In part seven of our interview series, we share tips on how to prepare for an online interview.
More and more, organizations are using real-time technology such as Skype to screen candidates and conduct initial interviews. Online interviews deliver several benefits, allowing interviewers to “meet” candidates without incurring substantial travel expenses.
For candidates like you, an online interview is a convenient and less stressful way to interview – but preparation is essential. Use this list of tips to correctly set-up for and ace your next online interview:
- Download required software. If you will be using Skype, go to www.skype.com and download it to the computer you will be using. Use smartphones with caution – sound quality, picture quality and network speed may present potential issues.
- Make sure you have a webcam. If your computer doesn’t have a built-in webcam, you can purchase one inexpensively from an office supply or computer technology store.
- Set the stage. Carefully choose the location for your online interview. A home office is best, but any room with relatively plain walls will suffice. Make sure there is nothing in the background that the interviewer could see which might reflect negatively on you (e.g., garbage, dirty clothing or personal items in plain view).
- Plan your wardrobe. Dress as you would for any professional interview outside your home. Although you may be tempted to stay in your slippers, don’t do it! Should you need to stand up or go into another room during the interview, you want the interviewer to see you in a polished outfit from head to toe.
- Test all your equipment. Ask a friend to help you test everything. Dress in the outfit you plan to wear and start by adjusting the webcam so that you are in the middle of the screen. Zoom to an appropriate level so that the interviewer can see your head and upper torso, and make sure your outfit looks okay on camera (sometimes white and/or patterned clothes can be distracting on video). Next, adjust the volume level for your speakers or headphones. Finally, adjust the lighting. If you’re in a room with open blinds and glare is an issue, try closing them and positioning an additional lamp behind the webcam.
- Change your computer settings. Make sure to adjust your screensaver and automatic hibernation settings. Turn off scheduled scans (so your computer doesn’t lag) and close instant messaging, chat windows, etc. to head-off potential interruptions or technical problems.
- Practice using the webcam. Unless you’re a broadcast journalist, you’re probably not used to looking into a camera. Eye contact is important, so practice answering a few interview questions while looking directly into the webcam, as opposed to the screen (where the interviewer’s image will be). Remember, too, that you may experience audio delays, so be sure to wait an extra second before speaking – otherwise, you may wind up continually interrupting your interviewer. Finally, although you don’t want to look like a statue, keep large, quick movements to a minimum, as video images can appear a bit jumpy.
- Eliminate distractions. Outside noises will distract both you and the interviewer, so do what you can to keep them to a minimum. Keep your pets and family members outside the room. Turn your cell phone, TV and radio off. Close your windows, so street noise and barking dogs will not disturb you.
- Remember, it’s still an interview. While you’re likely to feel more relaxed since you’re at home, you still need to prepare as though you’re going into a formal interview. Review your résumé and memorize important dates and figures listed, so that you’re not tempted to read your answers from a sheet of paper.
As you can see, a little preparation goes a long way. Have an online interview preparation tip to share with your food and beverage industry colleagues? Share it below.