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Jobseeker Career Advice

Online Interviews

The “New Normal”

Since the pandemic, more and more of our daily face-to-face encounters have been taken online. Whether checking in with family and friends, taking part in a quiz or fitness class, or even attending an important job interview, this has become the ‘new normal’ for us all. With businesses having worked remotely for many months now, it looks like this approach is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. So, for job hunters, this means they must be prepared to conduct job interviews online, and they may even be asked to work from home if they are successful.


A totally new experience

The idea of an online interview might seem strange, but it would be completely normal to feel nervous about the whole process. After all, it is a totally new experience for job seekers, as well as for recruiters now hosting these interviews. The main point for job hunters to remember is they must approach the online interview as if they are attending in the flesh. The same rules apply, so do your preparation, dress smartly, and be punctual for the call. (You can read our article on interview tips in the career guides section of the Jobs Fair website.)

But, having said all that, there are other considerations you must bear in mind for online job interviews. Firstly, you need to have a device on which you can take the call, as well as the software installed that the recruiter is using for the interview. It could be Zoom (which seems to be the most popular platform at the moment), Skype or Microsoft Teams. Be sure you know how to use it by carrying out a test run with a friend or family member first. If you know how the software works, this will help give you confidence in the interview itself. It will also give you the chance to iron out any problems you could encounter, such as the microphone being in mute mode or the video failing to stream. Another key point is to ensure you have a good network connection. You don’t want to find your internet is dropping in and out throughout your interview. In which case, it would be very wise to move to a better signal area, closer to your router.


Remove any distractions

On the subject of the location of your call, there are a few other important points to make. It would be much better to sit at a desk if you can, rather than slouching on the sofa. If you are sitting upright and showing good body language, your interviewer will be more likely to take you seriously as a possible candidate for the role. What is the backdrop to your video i.e. what will the recruiter see behind you? Ideally, you should try to have a plain backdrop to ensure all eyes are on you. Remove any distractions from the room, such as your family pet, and ensure you have arranged childcare for any little ones to prevent them from making an appearance during the interview. You should also close any windows or doors if you are worried about unwelcome noises. If the phone rings or someone is at the door, ignore it. Your attention should be on the interview alone, but recruiters do understand that these things happen. It is part of the course when carrying out interviews at home, so do not worry if you experience an interruption. Simply apologise and continue with the call.


Same rules apply

If you are a shy or anxious person, you may actually prefer an online interview within your own surroundings. But, do not forget what we said before about the same rules applying for online interviews as for interviews in person. The aim is to present yourself in the best positive light, so maintain eye contact with your interviewer and smile often in order to appear friendly and approachable. We have all got used to talking to our screens over the last few months. If you still feel uncomfortable, you may need a little practice. The best advice is to treat the interview as if the recruiter is in the room with you.


Thank your interviewer

If we assume your interview has gone well, you have answered all the questions accordingly, as well as asking some pre-prepared questions of your own, it is important to sign off the call in the usual way. So, thank your interviewer for their time and ask them about the next step in the process. Make sure you end the call and close down the software, so you do not appear to be left hanging on hold.

It is likely to take a couple of online interviews before you feel entirely happy with the process. We are all learning to come to terms with this new way of working, so do not be worried about asking questions to check the technology is working and if your interviewer can hear you. Why not treat the whole experience as part of your job training? After all, it will help to stand you in good stead when it comes demonstrating your ability to act professionally when faced with adversity and cope with the changing needs of the business.