Prepare For A Virtual Interview

Prepare For A Virtual Interview
By Joe Issid
Monster Contribuing Writer

As competition for jobs has increased over the years, candidate screening has become less personal and more cost-effective. A rapid 15-minute telephone chat can save both employers and job seekers valuable time, energy and money. Let’s face it; we’ve all experienced the anxiety surrounding the dreaded phone interview at some point in our careers. And we have often lamented that it is virtually impossible to provide – or gain – a favourable impression through faceless communication.
With the ever-increasing volume of remote workers, the need for an inexpensive yet intimate communication platform has become necessary. As such, it is not uncommon for recruiters to leverage face-to-face chat applications to be able to virtually ‘meet’ candidates and to conduct more intimate interviews. As with all other forms of interview, there are unwritten protocols that you should try to follow before signing into a so-called Skype interview. Here are a few suggestions:

Approach it as normal
I understand that this advice is about as useful as the ubiquitous “just be yourself” platitudes that your friends offer before a date. But the reality is that all interviews are equal and should all be approached with the same import. Any due diligence that you would perform for an in-person interview applies for a virtual interview. Naturally, the primary difference between a phone interview and a Skype interview is that your physical appearance and surroundings matter.
Look the part
Again, this is nothing new. But keep in mind that your interviewer(s) can not only see and hear you, but they can also see and hear your surroundings. Do not perform the interview from a crowded coffee shop or on board a train. Isolate yourself in a quiet area and try to ensure that your surroundings are warm and neutral. If you can recreate an office setting, all the better. The key here is to make sure that you have total privacy; if at home, you do not want your meddling roommate or his pouncing cat to interfere with your meeting.
Check your tech
 Not all of us are blessed with technical skills. But do what you can to ensure that your webcam and microphone are functioning properly. (Of course, it goes without saying that you need to ensure that you have all the necessary hardware to perform said interview before agreeing to it). Also, be sure that your internet throughput is not being hogged by any unnecessary activity. Pause all your downloads and postpone any major data syncs until your interview is over. It would be a shame for your interview to be impacted by your urgent need to update Quicktime.
Don’t be shy
If you are experiencing any technical issues, inform your interviewer right away. You do not want to run the risk of incorrectly answering a question that you did not hear accurately. If the call drops unexpectedly, don’t be afraid to re-initiate contact.
Maintain ‘eye’ contact
It goes against your natural instinct to look away from the person with whom you are conversing, but this is exactly what you need to do during a web-based chat. Remember, you need to maintain ‘eye’ contact with your webcam and not the person on the other end. If you try and maintain eye contact with the person on the screen, it will appear to them that you are looking down the entire time. As many integrated webcams can be difficult to perceive, you may want to tape a picture of an arrow on your computer that points to the lens. This will help remind you to keep your eyes looking in the right direction.
Don’t read a script
It is always a good idea to write down a few notes ahead of an interview for quick reference. But there is a difference between using a few cheat cards to jog your memory and reading entire speeches from a prompt. Just watch a good public speaker for an idea on how to subtly use visual cues without losing your audience’s attention.
As with any other interview, make sure you dress appropriately, groom yourself sufficiently and present a professional front. If you are interviewing for a remote position, chances are that you will be using Skype regularly in you day-to-day affairs. The interview will be a good first step towards integrating it into your professional life.