8 Rules and Tips for a successful, virtual job interview

1. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A FUNCTIONING TECHNOLOGY

If you are now thinking "well, sure", you will be surprised how unclear this point seems to be to many applicants. Unfortunately, we must report from daily practice that, regardless of generation, there are still constant and regular technical breakdowns, because simply too little time is given to preparing the technical component:

Internet connection: Make sure you have a stable internet connection. Also bear in mind that if your partner or children are streaming Netflix & Co. in the next room at the same time, this can lead to interference and pixelated video images.

Audio settings: Far too many video conferences start with awkward questions about whether you can hear each other. Usually this often-clumsy greeting ritual ends with one of the participants having to adjust their audio settings first. Be the sound too soft or the microphone muted. However, this does not have to be the case. Make a professional first impression and go into the meeting prepared by checking these settings in advance.

Camera: In the unlikely event that your notebook is not already equipped with a good camera: Invest in a good webcam. Like the internet connection, it does not make a good impression if you can only be perceived in a pixelated way due to the camera resolution. If you want to rely on the camera of your smartphone or tablet instead, that's ok if you make sure that a professional image is still guaranteed. So, avoid going into the job interview with your smartphone in your hand.


2. FAMILIARISE YOURSELF WITH THE SOFTWARE OR COMMUNICATION PLATFORM.

Microsoft Teams, Skype, Skype For Business, Google Meet, Zoom, Facetime, etc. The choice of virtual video tools has become almost unmanageable during the Corona Lockdown. As an applicant, you naturally have the disadvantage of not being able to choose the platform yourself. It is therefore even more important that you familiarise yourself with the respective software in advance. If you need to install something, do so in good time and not just 5 minutes before the interview begins. But even if it is possible to participate via the internet browser, it is advisable to test the functionality in good time beforehand. The interview itself is already stressful enough - so you can do without the potential additional stress caused by technical uncertainties.

Bonus tip for using Skype: Make sure you use a reputable username. Job interviews with bärli79 and Co. seem alienating

3. CHOOSE A FAVOURABLE BACKGROUND AND PAY ATTENTION TO THE LIGHTING.

Here, too, the wheat is separated from the chaff. Let's start with the background: make sure it is neutral. Ideally a white wall. After all, you want to leave a professional impression and not give your counterpart too deep a view into your private sphere and irritate them with whimsical pictures or fancy decorative objects.

While the choice of background is the most likely to be considered in practice, far too little importance is usually attached to the appropriate lighting. Yet this is very important, because if light comes too strongly from the side, from above or even from behind you, it can seriously distort the impression you make. We therefore recommend lighting from directly behind the camera.

4. CHOOSE AN APPROPRIATE OUTFIT

It probably comes as no great surprise that proper business attire is more in demand than tracksuits at a professional job interview, even if it takes place virtually. But don't overdo the formality either. Being too formal from your own four walls could also look a bit inauthentic, depending on the position. To avoid unwanted camera effects, it is also advisable to avoid fine or restless patterns.


5. AVOID DISTRACTIONS

You can prevent horror scenarios of children running past in the background by blocking the door, for example. Also make sure that you put your smartphone and, if applicable, your smartwatch on mute and ideally also place them covered or out of sight. Also, close e-mail or messaging programmes on your desktop in the background. Incoming messages, e.g. from your current superior, could break your concentration unnecessarily...

6. KEEP EYE CONTACT AND DON'T FORGET YOUR BODY LANGUAGE.

Even though we are conditioned by our media usage to focus on the moving screen, don't forget to look directly into the camera on a regular basis, especially when you are speaking. This gives your conversation partner the impression that you are looking them directly in the eye, which in turn creates a confident and sovereign impression.

Another thing that is regularly forgotten behind the camera is to pay attention to your own posture. In direct face-to-face contact, this is often very superficially in the consciousness, but the conversation from within your own four walls often causes a lack of body tension. So, don't "slouch" in front of the screen and be careful not to lose your professional body language.

7. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE OPPORTUNITIES THE SITUATION OFFERS YOU.

The virtual interview, unlike the traditional interview situation, gives you the opportunity to make direct use of your notes and documents. Have your CV ready and feel free to use post-it notes with your key points in the background. However, be careful not to read them off, but only to use them as memory aids.  Reading them off would be conspicuous.

8. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A PLAN B UP YOUR SLEEVE.

Even if you have meticulously prepared all 7 points mentioned so far and nothing should go wrong, unforeseeable problems, such as a sudden WLAN failure, can unfortunately always occur. For these cases, it is important to have a plan B. Using a mobile hotspot or, at a pinch, taking part in the meeting entirely via smartphone may not be ideal, but it is better than not being able to keep the appointment. So be prepared for the fact that sometimes not everything goes according to plan. A well-prepared Plan B can save your nerves.


Do you have general questions about how to set up your job interviews? We will be happy to support you with professional application training tailored to your individual needs!

Mag. Thomas Webersdorfer, MSc, Business Psychologist
Business Psychologist

The solution does not care how the problem came to be.