The basics
Study abroad : Career Prospects

Acing an online interview

Getting yourself ready to face an interview panel is hard at the best of times. When it's taking place online there are a whole new set of variables. We'll help you ace it with our guide.

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With the current global coronavirus pandemic, it’s become even more important to get to grips with the online interview process. Whether you have an upcoming virtual interview (go you!) or you’re currently hoping to land an online interview, we’ve got you sorted.  In this article we’ll cover how to prepare before the interview, what to do on the day and best practices to follow afterwards.

Before the interview

Interview Preparation is key

Although the format of an online interview is different, you will still be expected to know about the role, company and to prepare some questions for the interviewer. Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean that this is a more relaxed process. You still need to prove to the employer why they should hire you out of all the candidates. So, to feel ready, make sure you tick off each of the below:

  • Research the company in-depth. A tip is to look at the ‘about us’ page and their recent work
  • Check out the interviewer’s profiles on LinkedIn to see their experience
  • Look at their social media presence, what catches your attention? What could be improved?
  • Practice some common interview questions
  • Have someone ask you potential questions
  • List your reasons for wanting the job
  • Go over your experience in relation to the role
  • Come up with some questions to ask them. For example, if there are any training opportunities available.

Test your technology

It would be a little awkward if you started the interview and your camera wasn’t working or your audio was off. This doesn’t make for a great first impression so ensure that you check the technical side of things. Here’s a list of pointers to remember:

  • Turn off any other devices that might be a distraction e.g. alarms/app notifications
  • Check your camera and sound are working properly
  • Ensure that your chosen device for the interview is charged
  • Test your internet connection
  • Make sure you have the camera at the right angle so that interviewers don’t look up at your chin.

Interview setting

While the interview panel won’t be expecting you to have a perfectly set up interview-space, you should try to place yourself in the best possible setting. This might be at a desk or dining room table, somewhere you can sit in a chair with your device in front of you. You also want to make sure that there is enough light and that your background is uncluttered. Pick somewhere with a relatively plain and empty background. Practice makes perfect, so try to do this at least a day before so that you aren’t making last-minute decisions.

 

Consider potential distractions

If you’re living with other people, you should inform them of your interview and remind them closer to the time that you’ll need a bit of quiet while it takes place. It’s not ideal if you’re mid-interview when some loud music starts playing in the background. This might also cause you to lose your train of thought and could hinder your performance.

 

Plan your interview outfit

While it might be tempting to wear some comfortable clothes, you also need to look smart. As a rule, try to look more formal than not, just to be safe. This could mean wearing a shirt and trousers with neat hair. While your experience and attitude are both important factors for your chances of landing this role, the employers will also want to see that you can be professional. Remember, they will be looking to see how well you would fit in at their company. To make you feel more prepared, have your outfit ready the night before as if you were leaving the house for an in-person interview.

 

Mock interview

A great way to test yourself and practice for the real thing is to set up a video call with a friend or family member and have them ask you interview questions. By doing so, you’ll feel less anxious for the proper interview and will be able to notice areas that you need to improve in. You’ll also be more aware of your strengths which will boost your confidence. Of course, you might feel nervous, but practicing is definitely one way to feel more prepared. You might even go the whole way and get dressed as if it were the actual interview. This way, when you are in the real thing, you’ll have rehearsed this part already and will feel more relaxed.

 

On the day

Turn off other devices

Make sure your phone is on silent or switched off so that you won’t receive any unexpected phone calls during the interview. You might also want to silence any alerts on your computer that you would usually receive or any alarms that might be set. All of this is cause for distraction when your attention should just be on the interview. Interviews can be a stressful experience, so you want to eliminate any unnecessary disruptions.

 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious about the coronavirus situation, make sure you refer to our mental health guide for international students. Or you can also take a look at our article on 10 challenges you may face during coronavirus to support you in your job hunt.

 

Get ready for the interview

Depending on the time of your interview, you should leave a few hours beforehand to get yourself ready. Stick to a reliable routine:

  • Eat breakfast
  • Shower
  • Get dressed
  • Look over your notes
  • Go over the job description and key points that you want to address
  • Take a break!

This last point might seem counter-intuitive, but you don’t want to spend hours fretting about the interview. So, set aside some time to go over your notes but make sure you also give your brain a rest for at least 30-45 minutes before the interview. This way, you won’t feel exhausted before the interview has even begun.

 

Want more advice and guidance on keeping productive at the time of coronavirus?

 

First impressions count in interviews

This is your chance to shine and let the interview panel find out what you’re like in (virtual) person. So, here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Smile and say hello at the start
  • If they ask how you are, return the question
  • Look directly at the screen or web cam
  • Take your time when answering their questions, don’t rush through in a panic
  • Show your engagement by nodding and smiling where appropriate
  • Sit up straight

 

After the interview

Congratulate yourself

Even if you’re unsure about how the interview went, if you followed our advice here, you’ll have tried your best. So, make sure you take a second to congratulate yourself and take a break. Interviews can be nerve-wracking so it’s important to relax and wind down at the end of one.

 

Write a thank you email

Don’t forget to send an email to the interview panel thanking them for their time and that you look forward to hearing from them. This is a gentle reminder for the interviewer to get back to you and they may reply with information about when you can expect to hear about the role. This gesture will be appreciated by employers and might even help you to land that job!

 

Wait to hear back after an interview

While you might be eagerly awaiting a decision about the role, you should wait to hear back from the employer before reaching out. If the date you were expecting to hear has come and gone, then you can email to chase them up. This might not mean that you haven’t got the job, as sometimes there can be unexpected delays to the recruitment process. If you haven’t heard back because you didn’t get the job, then you can request some interview feedback which will be beneficial for your job hunt.

 

Don’t give up!

Job hunting can feel like a hard and lengthy process. While rejection can be demotivating, try to keep momentum and continue to apply for different roles as this is only going to strengthen your skills in the long run. You can now apply on most job sites with just the click of a button after uploading your CV making it super easy to put yourself out there.

 

If you’re worried about finding a job, take a look at our guide on finding work in the time of coronavirus.