Online Job Interviews: Practice and Preparation
More and more companies are conducting online job interviews. These interviews save employers money because they don’t have to pay for a job fair or for candidates to travel to the office. Besides, the technology needed to conduct online interviews has become mainstream, so it is a simple and effective way to interview candidates for employment.
For job seekers, it's easy to interview right from home. It saves on travel time and can be less stressful than interviewing in person. There are different types of online job interviews. Familiarizing yourself with them ahead of time may help you think on your feet and achieve a more successful interview performance.
Webcam Job Interviews
The most typical online interview is the interview via webcam. Rather than having you travel to an office, the interviewer will simply conduct the interview via video. Depending on the company, they may send you a webcam and a set of interview questions, or you may be expected to use your camera, which is less of a hardship these days, as many, if not most, laptops come with webcams built in.
The interviewer will often use popular video conferencing software like Skype or Google Hangouts. If you’re not familiar with these technologies, it’s a good idea to practice using them with a friend before conducting the interview. It often takes a few tries to get the hang of angling the camera so that your whole face (and not just your left nostril or the top of your head) is in the frame. Plus, you’ll want to find a flattering angle and practice “making eye contact” with the interviewer via the camera.
Newbies tend to stare at the part of the window with their own video image instead of looking into the camera, which can appear odd, not to mention disengaged.
Some employers use online web-based systems for interviewing. For example, Spark Hire provides options for recorded interviews via webcam and in-depth live interviewing with split screen online interviews with candidates.
Sometimes, rather than interviewing you, employers email you a list of interview questions and ask you to film yourself answering them. If this is the case, all the same rules still apply. Even though you are not speaking directly to a person, be sure to smile and maintain friendly eye contact with the camera.
Remember to speak slowly and clearly. It’s easy to speed up and come across as nervous and garbled when you’re doing a self-paced interview. Take deep breaths. If it seems like you’re speaking too slowly, you’re probably doing it right.
Remember that online interviews are just as important as in-person interviews. Your interview could get you to the next round or even a job offer if the company handles all the interviewing online.
Here's how to get ready for your interview:
- Download the software ahead of time so that you’ll have the opportunity to get used to it.
- Create a professional username, such as a variation on your real name, as it appears on your resume, if it’s available.
- Dress professionally even if you are sitting down. Wear nice pants and shoes, as you never know when you will have to stand up. Plus, dressing the part will help you get your head in the game.
- Clear your workspace and any clutter that is behind you so that it doesn't show up on the screen. You don’t want your interviewer to be distracted by visual noise in the room or to assume that your disorganized space is a sign of how you’d perform as a worker.
- Make sure that you are in a quiet room where you will not be disturbed by people, pets, etc. Turn off your ringer, any alarms, and electronics that are likely to interrupt.
- Have a piece of paper and a pen ready so that you are not scrambling to find them later.
- Have a copy of your resume in sight in case you have to refer to dates, job titles, or numbers.
- Smile and focus as much as possible and try to behave as if you’re in a regular, in-person interview. Look into the camera, listen attentively, and engage with your interviewer. Don’t just wait for your turn to speak.
- Practice using your webcam equipment before the interview, so you are sure everything is in working order and that you’re comfortable interviewing on video.