Careers: Preparing for an online job interview

Jul 21, 2020


As technology developed, online interviewing was already evolving to be more convenient and cost-effective for employers. With COVID-19 arriving, it quickly accelerated online to be the method of choice.

What technology will they use?

Online interviews will mostly use an online chat video/audio platform, such as Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams. You may be provided with a recorded set of questions and you are then required to record yourself addressing the questions and send this to the employer.

How do I prepare for this new style of interviewing?

Following these simple tips will help you to feel more confident going into this style of interview.

Test the technology

Make sure you are familiar with the necessary equipment and software. Test it all out well before your interview, check that your microphone and speakers are working and that your internet connection supports high-quality live video. Ensure that your screen name is professional and easily recognisable for the interviewer.

Preparation and Practice

Practice your interviewing technique online. Ask someone you know and trust to ask you practice interview questions over a video call. Practice listening carefully to the questions and speaking clearly with your responses. Use the practice session to:

  • Check your online body language. How much of you is seen on the screen, are you too close or too far away, are you sitting up straight? Check your surrounds. What does the background say about you? Is it well-lit and organised? You don’t want the interviewers being distracted by what’s going on around you or struggling to see you clearly.
  • Make eye contact. This can be harder than you think during an online interview. You will need to focus your gaze directly into the webcam instead of at the interviewer’s face or your own, so practice this.
  • Have a backup plan. Technology is notorious for malfunctioning at inconvenient times. Having a clear back-up plan can eliminate a lot of anxiety if things go wrong.
  • Think about what you want to have beside you.

Being online gives you the chance to have a cheat sheet there with you, which isn’t ordinarily available. Consider what you might need. Things you may consider are a copy of your application, information about the company, a list of questions and a pen and notebook. Although these tools can be helpful, ensure they don’t divert your attention too long or too often during the interview.

Dress professionally

While you may not be meeting the interviewers in person, dressing professionally is not only still required, but is essential to help you to feel empowered.

Your worst enemy during any interview can be your own nerves. The more prepared and practiced you are, the less likely they will impact. However, if you feel those nerves getting the better of you, have some water nearby, ask for a second to just have a mouthful, and as you reach for it, take a deep breath and count to five in your head. This will help you relax.

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