Tips for online job interviews
by Grossnickle Career Services Center (go to top)
Because COVID-19 remains an issue in the workplace, virtual job interviews aren’t going away any time soon; in fact, they may permanently replace phone interviews. Before we get into some tips, know that we’re here to help! Staff at the Grossnickle Career Services Center offers mock interviews for students and alumni over Zoom. We can always chat with you to help prepare for an upcoming interview.
While you certainly know at this point how to use Zoom and participate in best practices, here are a few tips to getting that job virtually:
- Dress for the part. The standard rules apply even if the venue isn’t traditional. Dress one notch above what the company’s typical attire is, so if the office culture favors collared shirts, check that box but also slip on a jacket. One interview expert even recommends wearing work shoes: “It might seem strange to wear your shoes during a videoconference, but it has an important psychological effect on you.” Also, be sure to wear solid colors, as stripes and complex patterns can look awful on video.
- Eliminate distractions. This one seems obvious, but doesn’t always happen. Close the door and windows in your room, shut off the TV down the hall and silence your cell phone (unless you’re using it for the conference). Even though it’s inconvenient, that includes the dogs and kids, if you have them. “And make sure the only window open on your computer screen is the video platform you are using,” says life coach Tom Marino. “Silence all pop-ups. The last thing you want is to lose your train of thought.”
- Prioritize the camera, not the screen. This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s most important that the interviewer see you clearly, not the other way around. This takes some practice and feels unnatural, but during your interview you should look at the camera as much as possible, not the picture of the other person on the screen. Looking at the camera is as close as you can get to making eye contact with the interviewer, while looking at the screen will appear to the other side like you’re staring off into space. The good news is that, on a small phone screen, this effect is minimized. If you’re doing your interview on a laptop, you can cheat this by shrinking the size of the videoconference app’s window and positioning it as close as possible to the location of the webcam. Also, elevate your laptop to eye level by stacking books or boxes underneath it. This way, you can stare directly into the camera without slouching or craning.
- Make a Cheat Sheet. Remember that the interviewer can’t see what’s not on camera, so use your interview space to your advantage. Stick a Post-It Note cheat sheet with notes, questions, or needed inspiration directly to the screen or to the wall behind your camera. The interviewer on the other side won’t ever know.
- Practice. Systems like Zoom let you record your meeting, so use this to polish your interviewing skills. “Record yourself telling your story before you go into an interview,” says Nicolle Merrill, a former career coach with the Yale School of Management. “A strong professional story will set a confident tone that offsets the awkward start on Zoom.” Study the recording to help scrub nervous tics, stammers, and other flubs from your delivery.
For assistance on this and other career topics, reach out to the Career Services staff by email at CareerServices@CCIS.edu or by calling (573) 875-7425. You can also schedule an appointment via Aviso, Zoom or Skype.