20 October 2020

Top tips for acing your online interview

Picture your last Christmas. If a relative told you that within one calendar year, Australians would be getting paid to stay home, the Melbourne Cup was going to be run with a desolate grandstand and there would be no tourists in Queensland, you’d think they were going mad.

COVID-19 has drastically altered our lives. One way in which the professional landscape has changed, perhaps for the foreseeable future, is the way job interviews are held.

With the workforce going online to social distance, so too have interviews. However, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

If you’ve submitted your winning cover letter and landed an online interview, we’ll help you prepare with these top tips.

Preparation

Failure to prepare is preparing to fail. There’s a reason why that phrase is all over the internet and sky diving offices. Because it’s true.

Our tips

  1. Think about the role you’re interviewing for. Are you familiar with the position description? Have you read it more than once and ticked off the skills you have? Can you speak to those skills as well as those you need to improve on? Take some time to prepare, these questions are ahead and if you get them right, it will ensure a brilliant start to the interview.
  2. Every boxer wants to know the hits before they come; get to know your interviewers via LinkedIn, look up the company website and Google search any recent notable events or news.
  3. You’ll have received a video call invitation prior to the interview, so take the chance to familiarise yourself with the platform you’ll be using. Test the meeting links 5-10 minutes before the meeting. Have your battery plugged in, a spare set of earphones and a back-up plan in case of unexpected technical issues (perhaps a second device to continue the interview on). Navigating an issue is a great way to showcase your initiative and resourcefulness.
  4. Finally, practice rehearsing strong answers to common questions. Practice them out loud, on camera and in the space, as you will be in during the interview. They won’t see your big hits coming!

Presentation

Although you’lll be safe in the comfort of your home for the interview, you’ll still need to pay special attention to your presentation. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is what to wear. My mother told me “dress how your boss dresses”. This may not work if you’re of different genders, but smart-casual seems to be the dress code for online meetings.

Our tips

  1. Wear a simple, clean and comfortable outfit which you would be happy to be remembered in.
  2. Also, if not more importantly, think about your video background. It’s your chance to let them see a bit more of you. A sneak peek of your personality but only the best traits, of course!
  3. Place yourself in a tidy and quiet area. Curate your surroundings to showcase an achievement, a hobby or an ice-breaker item.
  4. Raise the device. Looking down onto a laptop can give even a supermodel a double chin. You’re looking up, forward seeing to the future, remember?
  5. For a better opportunity of conveying body language, place the camera at a distance so that your shoulders and upper abdomen are in the frame. With most of the body language hidden, it is important to emphasise your reactions slightly and project your voice; be upbeat but concise.
  6. If you find your attention dragged towards your own image (how could you not, you’re looking great!) cover it up with a post-it.

Pertinence

Keep the run-of-the-mill (but important) questions about working hours, car park and general perks until much later, you are above that.

Our tips

  1. Only ask pertinent questions. Prepare them ahead of time and have them ready to go.
  2. Enquire about what the company is doing in response to COVID-19 or what the onboarding process is in the virtual environment.
  3. Check-in with the interviewers to find out how the global pandemic has impacted them and listen to their answers with intent.
  4. Be up to date with the day’s news and don’t be afraid to mention something new you’ve learned if it’s appropriate and relatable.

Positivity

Studies show that having positive thoughts before a particular event directly boost your self-esteem. Bringing more positive thoughts into your day will go a long way during a video interview. It’ll make up for missed body language opportunities as it will transpire in your facial expressions, tone of voice and posture.

Our tips

  1. Take a moment to think how, despite COVID-19, you were able to do something good for someone else. Everyone is essentially good, and sometimes we need to remind ourselves how much we give.
  2. As much as possible, convey warmth on the call. The crisis has made people rely on their professional interactions for engagement and connection more than ever before. You might be the first person they’ve spoken to in the last few hours.
  3. Finally, when asked about current or past employers, steer away from speaking negatively, you want them to think that you are a valued member of any past institution you set foot in. Simply state the facts and focus on the experience you have gained.

Post interview

The lack of non-verbal information after an interview, may impact how you feel it went.

Our tips

  1. Mentally review all the reasons why it likely went well and move on to another activity.
  2. Make sure to thank your interviewers for their time with a personalised note within a day of the online meeting. It will keep you at the forefront of their minds and will reinforce your interest in the position.

Written by Anita Mitchell

Anita Mitchell has been helping renowned and prominent FMCG, Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices companies source elite scientists for seven years in Melbourne. Recently Anita relocated to Brisbane to pursue her career as the STEM team leader in PERSOLKELLY. She is most excited about growing our business under our premium PERSOLKELLY brand and setting a new standard when it comes to STEM recruitment. Anita is incredibly grateful to the PERSOLKELLY leadership team for the opportunity to relocate and chase the nicer weather.

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