How to put your best foot forward in an online interview

How to put your best foot forward in an online interview

There is no doubt that during these changing times, video calls are only going to become more popular. In fact, we should be using video calls over phone calls because you simply connect better, are able to read body language and your conversation is more productive and meaningful. For job seekers, it is imperative that you become accustomed to video calls because most interviews are being done online.

Many candidates make the mistake of not taking an online interview as seriously as they would an in-person interview. This can have disastrous repercussions. Remember, you only have one chance to make a good first impression.

Here are some of my tips I would like to share on how to make sure that you look great, sound great and present great on a video call.

  1. Your tools – Make sure you have the basic kit
  • Webcam or even better an external webcam for the perfect angle
  • Headphones – it makes the call much clearer
  • Microphone
  • Software – There are many apps to choose from – Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams to name a few. Zoom is what we use, just because it is user-friendly.
  • Internet – make sure you have a fast connection AND always have a BACKUP device or data connection that you can switch to
  • Ensure your laptop is plugged in / fully charged
  • Try to have privacy for the duration of the call
  1. Lighting
  • Most people don’t look good because their lighting is not good
  • Position a light in front of you so that it brightens your face
  • Avoid sitting in front of a window as you will become a silhouette
  • The golden rule is never to have a light/or any light behind you
  • Make sure that you are head-height with the camera so that it is not facing the top of your head or even worse, under your chin.
  1. Background
  • Avoid clutter, mess, any personal spaces and a plain white/cream wall as your background
  • A plain wall, painting or bookshelf is a perfect background
  • Try not have any pets in the room (barking dogs can be very distracting)
  1. Sit up
  • One of the most important nonverbal cues is body language. Push back your laptop so that your hands and upper body are showing.
  • Always wave hello! This shows friendliness.
  • Use hand gestures while speaking (keep these professional) but not too many.
  • Keep hands visible hands while listening (to show you are not on a cell phone etc)
  1. Don’t focus on your appearance
  • Most people are so concerned about what they look like that they keep adjusting their hair, their smile, the level of their chin, the angle of their face and their facial expressions
  • Most people are more self-conscious on a video than in real life!
  • Most people spend most of the video call looking at their own face. This can be off-putting for the interviewer and it may make you appear either self-involved or nervous.
  • Best advice is to focus on the dot or the person speaking
  1. Remember your purpose and focus on your content
  • Have a notebook next to your laptop with all your notes for the meeting or keep your notepad on your screen
  • Prepare your meeting/interview like you would normally do
  • If you are asked a question, be able to answer it. Prepare and be a master of your content.
  1. General etiquette
  • Listen to understand
  • Do not talk over someone – wait to talk
  • Eliminate embarrassing moments e.g dogs barking, kids barging in, people talking to you
  • Tell everyone you are doing a video call before-hand
  • Lock the dogs up, lock the door
  • Do a quality check before you log in – your appearance, light, mic and video check
  • Have your invite link ready, test it
  • Arrive at least 5 minutes early for the call
  • Greet everyone appropriately by name
  • Make sure you have all the little things – paper, pen etc
  • Just because you are in your own home, don’t smoke
  • Have a glass of water if necessary
  • Be prepared for small talk in times where someone may have a technical glitch and you need to bide time
  • Make sure you like your listening face
  • Look at the dot, not yourself
  • Connect and interact
  • Always start with a wave and a smile with a happy, cheerful tone. People can hear your mood
  • Always make sure you know your position. i.e. Take the lead if you are the leader
  • Hand gestures show warmth, engagement and personality. Make sure you keep it to meaningful hand gestures, not just waving your hands around.  This can be distracting. Too many movements can cause a blurring effect which can be distracting.
  • Rather dress up than dress down
  • Make sure your dress is appropriate for the specific audience – smart, smart/casual
  • Avoid busy patterns and stripes, big dangly earrings. Remember, everything in moderation.
  • Send a thank you letter after the interview. Gratitude goes a long way.

Finally, good luck and remember that an interview video call is not a dress rehearsal, there are no second chances. ..