Many companies are looking to hire new people: there‘s just one difference. The interviews are mostly virtual. Statistics all around the world state that hiring managers are reducing the stockpile of their resumes by interviewing them virtually to cut out the most deserving candidates. Ravaged by a second wave of the virus in most economies, companies continue to find new ways to hire employees, collaborate, and work to keep their companies going. 

However for employees, trying to make an impactful connection through video interviews on zoom, skype, or google hangouts/meet may seem unsettling. There are a few ways in which you can set yourself to ace your next virtual interview. 

Virtual interview and a general interview structure for most tech jobs

So generally there are three stages in every tech job hiring process that you might be familiar with: 

  1. The phone call(30- 45 mins): to test your general fit in the company. Usually by an external recruiter or the company hiring manager
  2. The initial virtual interview ( 30 - 45 mins):  A behavioral interview and maybe a written test of your preliminary basic test skills. Could include a take-home exercise. This is usually done over a phone call or over Skype, Zoom, Google Hangout. 
  3. The tech interview(45 mins-60 mins): The main technical interview where you’ll be tested and grilled on your tech skills before making you an offer. 

Virtual interview: For the sake of clarification, in this article, we’ll be discussing the second phase of the hiring process, i,e. The initial behavioral interview where you will be interviewing using video technology. Here you are mostly tested for your soft skills, your communication skills and could include some tech exercises to put your general skills to test. 

So let’s get cracking on how to prepare. 

Basic Prep

Check your connection and equipment: 

After you RSVP for the virtual interview, you basically know when and how you will be going through the interview This means you can download your zoom or skype if you hadn’t already and set it up on your computer. Also organize for a webcam, noise-canceling headphones, laptop table or and any other equipment you think you might need to make your interview a smooth process. You also want to make sure that you have a stable internet connection that isnt disrupted during the interview. Nothing kills your pitch like a poor internet connection where you can hardly persuade the recruiter to hire you over your voice or video breaking down.  

Body Language

When you are in the interview, make sure you are looking at the camera while speaking. It is the best form of eye contact you can maintain while speaking to the person on the other side. Also, you could download sticky notes to use as a reminder of the points that you want to talk about. It makes more sense than trying to flip pages on your notebook looking for the things you wanted to talk about. Sit up straight and avoid slouching while you are speaking to your interviewer.

Prepare for common questions

It makes sense to practice how you would like to answer common questions such as an introduction to yourself, your strength and weaknesses, your work history, etc. It helps if you record yourself talking and then check for body language cues that you can improve. You could also write the answers down so you have an idea about the ground you want to cover to make these answers great. Although you may prepare for these questions, it doesn’t fair too well if you sound overly rehearsed during the interview. 

You may also want to prepare for questions to ask the employer since the interview is not just a one-way street. They are interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them. So make sure you have your doubts cleared when you are given the chance. Another thing that you wanna ensure is that you maintain integrity with your answers; in other words, your answers must reflect the truth and must sound like you. 

Light, Sound, and room temperature: 

Pick a spot where there is minimal noise, somewhere you can be by yourself for an hour or so without distractions. If you have children, you want to arrange for them to be taken care of so that you can sit for the interview without any worry.  Keep a notepad ready if you may need to jot down points during the interview to touch upon later. If you tend to get nervous or have a dry throat you could keep a glass of water reachable to you. Pick a space in a room with ample light, away from distractions, and where it is not too hot or too cold. You don’t want to be sweating from your face or have chattering teeth while speaking. Communicate with your friends and family that you will be unavailable for that particular time. You might want to choose a simple plain background to keep the focus on you. But in any case, if you don’t have such backgrounds you could always opt for a virtual background that minimizes distractions. 

Do your research: 

Since you would have passed the first stage of the hiring process, you must have already done some research about the company you applied for. Now, it’s time to shift gears and double down on research. Things like what kind of problems the company is facing and how can your solutions help them, what they are in news for, what kind of employees work there, and what are company reviews on remuneration, culture, work-life balance, etc. It also helps if you can understand what projects the company is currently working on and how your role would carry forward the company’s goals and values. Keep relevant tabs open for you to touch back upon if you may need to. 

Professional Attire

It is a virtual interview but that isnt an excuse to skip on looking professional. Dress for the role you want, make sure you look professional and clean. This shows that you care and that you are serious about the job. A great universal formal attire for either men or women can be putting on a button-down shirt, some formal pants, and maybe a blazer. You also want to do a quick self-audit and remind yourself to keep a positive attitude and pleasant behavior throughout the process. 

What to do after a virtual interview

Once the interview is over, you want to send a thankyou note mentioning details and highlights from your interview. A genuine note gives themes a chance to keep you fresh in their mind. It also gives you a chance to follow up after spacing some time out after the interview- if they haven’t already mentioned a timeframe within which they plan to announce the results. You could wait 72 hours before your follow-up email to find out if you have qualified further along the hiring process. 

Moving Forward

There is no doubt that interviews can be intimidating, but now that they can be done in the comfort of your own space, it some consolation. Nevertheless, it makes sense to practice, prepare to present yourself in the most authentic and pleasant light possible. Although you may not be able to make up for the non-verbal cues such as a firm handshake you can use the tips above to keep communication respectable and show that you are serious about the offer at hand. Once you are approved, it’s time to get the big guns out and prepare for your tech interview.