This can cause a flat out panic attack, leaving you feeling a little nervous, which is completely understandable. In-person interviews, while sometimes nerve-wracking, are all pretty much the same: you go to the workplace in a business suit or other nice clothes, bring a copy of your resume, and answer questions with the hiring manager. When the interview is online, however, there’s less control. You’re likely not in an office, don’t have a resume or samples to hand to the manager, and can’t even shake hands. It’s very intimidating!
Luckily, many of us have already gone through this. I’ve done my fair share of online interviews, and I can tell you for sure, with a little preparation, it’s possible to make a good, lasting impression. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way.
5 Tips for Your Online Interview
1. Pick a good location
While an online interview may not be in an office, that doesn’t mean sitting anywhere is acceptable or professional. Remember, the hiring manager can see that Spider-Man poster or goofy photo of you and your friend in the background. Pick a place in your home with a blank wall in the background, preferably at or near a desk that has been cleaned off and straightened. Ensure it’s a quiet space, too, to avoid any interruptions or off-camera noises.
2. Use the best technology you have
You may love the laptop your mom gave you for your birthday four years ago, but if it’s slow and sluggish, or just plain out-of-date, your video feed may not work as well. If you have an alternative, go with that instead. Also, make sure you have all contingencies taken care of. Plug into a power source, test your camera and microphone, and make sure your modem and router are in tip-top condition. You’ll be happy you did.
3. Practice, practice, practice!
Professional basketball players and opera singers make sure to put in plenty of time to make sure their presentation is as good as it can be. Why should your interview be any different? Do a dress rehearsal with a family member or friend to brush up on your answers (and make sure your outfit is appropriate). In addition, brainstorm questions you want to ask the hiring manager – it’ll make you look more interested and engaged.
I have a couple of friends who don’t live in my area and I found it really helpful to practice with them over the computer.
4. Have a Plan B ready
If you have a sudden internet outage or your computer begins spewing smoke, you’re going to need to do something fast to make up for it. Make sure you have the interviewer’s phone number. Also, remember to keep calm! Just because your side is on the fritz doesn’t mean theirs is; they may be able to hear and see everything you’re saying and doing.
5. Send a follow-up note
Following up with the interviewer is a great way to keep your name top-of-mind. For an online interview, a quick “thank you” email can be a great way to stay in touch. But email is very impersonal, so if you have the address where the interviewer can be reached, try sending them a short thank-you note instead.
A little thought can go a long way. By planning out your online interview, you can get a great head start on making a good impression, and you can help assuage your nerves at the same time! Ultimately, it’s little things like these that will set you apart from the pack.