No matter the job market, it’s always important to thoroughly prepare for an interview. In today’s environment, most interviews are being conducted virtually instead of face to face, making it feel like more of a challenge to find the right fit for a position, and like more of a challenge for a potential employee to shine in their interview.
TalentSpark helps companies find great talent and great talent to find stellar career opportunities. Here are some commonly asked questions and our recommendations for successfully preparing for and executing a virtual interview.

What should someone expect when they have an entirely virtual job interview?

Candidates should be prepared to show the same level of professionalism they would usually show in person, plus a few extra steps. Take the time to make sure you are presenting yourself professionally by making sure your camera is at a good level — preferably eye-level — and be aware of the background. Choose a blank wall or a background that won’t detract from what you are saying. Without an opportunity to meet in person, candidates should be prepared to oversell their professionalism and competence for the job.

How should someone prepare for a virtual job interview?

A quiet environment is most important. Giving yourself a distraction-free environment will allow you to focus and have a meaningful conversation with the employer. Ask your partner to take the dog for a walk or set your kids up with an activity in a different room.
Once you’ve secured a quiet environment, preparation should be like any other interview. Dress professionally. Be prepared for common interview questions like, “tell me about yourself” or, “tell me why you are interested in this position.” Candidates that have a two-minute pitch about why they are the right person for the job will stand out.

What virtual job interview mistakes are common?

A big virtual interview mistake is not dressing professionally. Right now, a t-shirt and jeans may feel dressed up, but that isn’t appropriate for most interviews. Candidates should always dress for the job or company culture, even for a virtual interview.
Another mistake is to be in too casual of an environment. Sitting on a couch or a bed doesn’t put off a professional vibe. Rather, sit at a countertop or a table on a straight-back chair or stool. Try to get your camera as close to eye-level as possible and again, be conscious of the background.

How should someone set the scene for a video interview?

I recently interviewed a candidate that was sitting in a basement that was clearly in the middle of being remodeled. Almost immediately he explained that his kids were afraid of going down there and therefore it was the only quiet place in his home. By calling this out right away, he demonstrated his ability to manage expectations and set himself apart from other candidates. If there is something that might be out of the ordinary, don’t hesitate to call it out and explain why.

How do you make a lasting impression without meeting face to face?

Follow up emails are even more important right now than they usually are. Write a genuine, well thought out follow up email — follow up on a question that was asked or a conversation that you had. Making your email personal will go a long way. Also, be sure to send it in a timely manner: 24 hours or so after the interview. However, sending the email IMMEDIATELY after the interview concludes can backfire; most hiring managers will assume you wrote it beforehand and didn’t put any thought or personalization into it. This seemingly small gesture shows the employer that they are a priority to you, even in the midst of a pandemic.

Any last thoughts on this subject?

There needs to be grace on both the employer and the candidate side. We are all working in unusual circumstances and things like dogs barking or a child popping into the video frame are small things that need to be forgiven. Likewise, if you do the work to prepare for the interview and things don’t go perfectly well, don’t be too hard on yourself. Lastly, the principles of in-person interviews still apply to virtual interviews and the little things can make a big difference right now.

Do you have any questions about preparing for a video or virtual interview? We’re happy to use our expertise to prepare you as much as possible. Contact TalentSpark today to get feedback from the professionals!