Avoid the Awkward: How to Handle Virtual Interviews

You just received the email saying, “Congratulations! We’re interested in hiring you as our Brand Ambassador.” However, in order to get the job you’ve been eyeing for so long, they’re asking for a Skype interview. What is it with everyone’s new obsession over not conducting interviews in-person? First comes the phone screen, then the phone interview, and the first time you meet your supervisor is your first day at work. Lovely.

Phone and Skype interviews are tough because you can’t read and respond to your interviewer’s body language. Instead, you have to pay extra attention to what they’re saying and how they say it.

Look Good

Non-verbal cues don’t fly out the window. Research the company and dress in accordance with their corporate culture, just as you would for an in-person interview. Also take time to set up your space, making sure you have a neutral background, few personal items, and good lighting. Clean up a bit if necessary, and make sure no one can interrupt you.

Model for the Camera

Let that personality shine with huge smiles, but limit your gestures a little more than normal (too much movement will distract your interviewer). To really make eye contact, avoid looking at the image of your interviewer on-screen and look directly into your camera instead. It’s tricky to pull off, but just make sure to focus entirely on the content of the interview.

Make it a Conversation

Long pauses and awkward interruptions litter every virtual interview. Don’t sweat it, and keep the conversation flowing by mimicking your interviewer’s talking style. If they show their interest by nodding, mirror them. If they interrupt you with the occasional “okay” or “mhmm,” do the same when they make an interesting point.

Cheater, Cheater

The one real advantage of virtual interviews is that you can “cheat”. Have your resume, company research, and talking points on hand as a security blanket in case you can’t remember everything you wanted to say. Just don’t be really obvious about it, that’s just rude.

Tech Problems

There’s always the chance that your video will have a glitch. That’s perfectly alright– it happens, and it’s easy to handle. Don’t interrupt, but don’t be afraid to stop the interview, either. Politely explain the problem and ask to redial if necessary. Take initiative and you will come off as a problem solver, instead of the idiot that just stares at the screen all confused.

photo credit: Per Olof Forsberg via photopin cc

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