So your newest job application has asked you to attend or submit a virtual interview? It isn’t just a new trend, in fact, more and more companies are staying virtual in their application process to learn more about candidates. However, it can be hard to figure out what companies are looking for in these interviews, especially when there is often a limit to the length of the videos you can upload. While you may think that you know how to do these interviews because you spend a lot of time online, it can actually be trickier than it seems.
Let’s tackle how exactly virtual interviews work and what you can do to make yourself stand out.
What Type of Interview is It?
Based on the organization you’re applying for, or what phase of the process you’re in, the interview type can differ. There are 3 different types of interviews you can encounter.
- A live interview: This is what you would normally expect when you think of an online interview. Some examples are a Zoom call with a recruiter or a video meeting with members of a potential team.
- A one-way interview: These interviews are observed in the first part of the application process, usually being the 1st or 2nd step after you apply for a role. These interviews are pre-recorded and involve you answering questions prompted by an interviewing service. You will typically upload your recorded video for the company to review.
- A screening call: Another option that is observed early on in the application process, screening calls are non-video calls where the recruiter gets to know you and asks basic questions about your employment history or work availability.
Based on the type of interview, what you can expect can vary.
Since one-way interviews aren’t live, they allow you to retake recordings as much as you like and present your best self. However, upload time limits are usually short, close to 60 seconds or less, which means it’s highly unlikely you will be getting any technical questions. The lack of a human person on the other side also means that visual cues won’t be there, making it harder to know if you’re answering the questions in a way the recruiter understands.
On the other hand, a screening call can be longer, lasting from 30 to 60 minutes. These calls are much more in depth, and are usually conducted by the hiring manager, rather than an outsourced recruiter. However, since these interviews are still in the beginning of the process, you might not get many technical questions, but rather more logistical questions like your employment history and availability.
Finally, live interviews can be a mixed bag. Some initial interviews can act like an expansive screening call, while others can be the first and only interview in the application process.
Do Your Due Diligence
Although it may seem like these interviews are simple because of their virtual nature, you have to remember that they’re the gateway to the next part of the application process, so give it your all. In general, your preparations for all three types of virtual interviews are the same.
Make sure to research the company, and role, ahead of time to figure out what the company is looking for. You don’t need to prepare a script, but knowing as much about the company and job as possible can allow you to connect your experiences to skills the company needs. Practice some commonly asked questions with friends and family to make sure you seem confident and that you can articulate your ideas. Even if these questions may not be asked in the subsequent interview, it’s still good practice. You can even have a list of talking points and questions written out that’s right under your camera, so you don’t have to move your eyes at all when referencing your notes.
If you’re doing a live or one-way interview, you should make sure that you seem professional. The first impression is usually made in the first 90 seconds, so make sure your room is well lit, there are no distractions, and that you are wearing professional clothing before you start your video recording.
Being Engaged in Each Type of Online Interview
For one-way interviews, try to focus on your expressive skills. Because you’re basically speaking to a camera with no interviewer feedback, you can often seem robotic and subdued. But because you want to show enthusiasm for the job, you may want to turn up your emotions by 20-30%. Use hand gestures or facial expressions (but don’t overdo it) to cement your points. Smile, be positive, and showcase your personality. It might be a bit embarrassing, but you can ask your friends and family to review your recorded video before you upload.
Although each organization can have different questions and structure for a one-way interview, this example offers a good basis for how these interviews might go. Note how, although the interview feels like the conversation, the applicant mentions her skill sets, past experiences, and her individual passion for the organization. These interview skills can only come with practice, so if you have the chance to, take your time to answer the questions comprehensively.
For screening calls, focus on being attentive and engaged with the hiring manager. Whatever the interviewer asks, make sure to connect your answer to the job roles and responsibilities. This example shows a few ways you can do it for various types of questions. Alongside your preparations, try to keep your options open for more sensitive questions, such as pay expectations, by pre-planning a range of numbers rather than a set amount.
Finally, for live interviews, remember the skills needed for in-person interviews. Try to maintain eye contact with the interviewer by looking directly into the camera and let your personality shine. Just like with one-way interviews, you can’t truly prepare for what the interviewer will ask, but some examples can help you think of ideas. Practice also helps, so try to conduct a mock interview before you attend the real thing.
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