Top Tips: Virtual Interviews
Interviews can be a nerve-racking experience for anyone at any stage of their career, and it is always good to be as prepared as possible. Speak with your recruitment consultant to gain more insight into what to expect or prepare for the interview and do your research.
We have noted below some top tips for both in person and virtual interviews:
Face to face interviews
Check the basics
- Know the time of your interview, what time do you need to arrive and who do you need to ask for upon arrival?
- Enquire who is on the interview panel and is there anything specific you need to prepare?
- Where is the interviewing being held, and is there more than one office location/building?
- Check the route and if there is onsite or nearby parking, or if there is nearby public transport routes.
- What is the dress code – normally it is best to assume business attire unless you are informed otherwise.
Know your audience
Interim roles can be very fast moving, and you may not have a huge amount of time between learning of and attending the interview. It is still important to familiarise yourself with the organisation and the people who will interview you.
Your recruiter will be able to provide additional information about the organisation, as well as being able to provide further details about the client’s style – i.e., whether they are more likely to come across as more formal/relaxed.
It is important to also do you own research. Look at board and annual reports, press releases or organisational structure charts, these should be searchable online. Additionally, look at the LinkedIn profiles of the company board members and who you will be meeting at the interview – do you have any mutual connections?
Know your CV, be succinct and qualify
Interims are often looked to as experts and are expected to hit the ground running, have an immediate impact and to identify and implement solutions to problems quickly.
When discussing your experience in the interview, keep your answers focused and relevant to the client’s brief. Provide examples of what you have delivered and achieved, how you did this and what were lasting implications for the previous client.
Understand and highlight your key skills - what will you bring to the role, why are you the right fit for the brief and how you can help the client.
Ask questions and qualify with the client what they are seeking, what are the issues that need addressing, what has or has not worked previously. Be sure you are able to deliver for the client in the timescale. Don’t overpromise and underdeliver.
Be aware of your body language and non-verbal communication
Body language and non-verbal cues are key in any conversation and can quickly create a lasting impression with a client. Maintain eye contact, an open posture and try to avoid fidgeting.
Please see our previous Top Tips on Body Language and Non-Verbal Communication.
Structured V conversational interviews
Interviews can often fall into Structure, Unstructured/Conversational or a mix of the two. Whilst interim interviews may lean towards a structure approach with clients often trying to gain as much information about prior experiences and expertise in a short time frame, they can also be conversational and encourage a two-way communication.
Speak with your recruiter to learn more about the client’s style.
- These are often direct with a list of questions focusing on the interim’s prior experiences, key skills/abilities and what they can deliver in the role.
- Often more conversational and free flowing without a specific list of questions. Interviews may be more directed by the client’s requirements from the role or focus more on the interims prior experience.
Adapt to virtual
Many interviews are still being conducted virtually – and whilst many of the above points still apply to virtual interviews there are a few additional points to consider:
First impressions are still important
Although we are now more comfortable on Zoom and working from home, we must not become complacent and should continue to maintain professionalism - consider how you present yourself, what you wear, your background and your preparedness for questions.
Prepare and test
Consider your lighting, sound, and camera angle. Before you join the call, do a test run to ensure your equipment is working and you are comfortable.
Have a contingency plan in case technology lets you down - if possible, have another device (such as a smart phone or tablet) to hand as a back-up and ensure you have the number of someone (perhaps your recruiter or a client contact) who you can alert to any technical issues.
Minimise distractions - shut down other applications, such as your email and instant messaging applications, so notifications don’t make a noise or distract you and turn your phone off or to silent or ‘do not disturb’.
Actively listen, display engaged body language and connect with the interviewers
Virtual interviews can require the interviewee to show high levels of engagement and to be more proactive in the conversation. Try to get into the habit of asking the client 2-3 questions – this could be about office culture, or more focused on the deliverables/requirements of the role.
In virtual interviews, body language is much harder to read – try to look directly into the camera and exude energy - think about your posture, your facial expressions and, critically, your use of hand gestures to animate what you are saying (without distracting).
In a virtual panel interview, is not always obvious who you are looking at or addressing so, when directing answers to a specific person, do state their name. Active listening is also key - talk at appropriate moments, qualify information back and ask/answer questions.