Prepping for Virtual and In-Person Job Interviews
Hcareers / JULY 29 2020

First impressions can be deal breakers on job interviews. After all, recruiters want to be assured that they have a viable candidate to present to their client and hiring managers are also gauging how a candidate will come across to colleagues and possibly even clients. Get it wrong in even just the first 30 seconds and there’s likely not going to be a second interview. 

Whether your job interview is virtual or in-person, ensuring that you make a positive initial impression requires some advanced planning. In fact, what you’ll need to do to get ready for a virtual interview isn’t much different from prepping for an in-person interview. 

Still, there are a few particular aspects of virtual interviews that you’ll want to consider in advance. Verify that your computer is plugged in or that your laptop battery is powered at 100 percent. 

Additionally, make sure your internet connection is functioning properly and if the interview is taking place via Zoom or another technology platform that offers public access, double check that you’ve downloaded the software and/or set up an account on the system. You definitely do not want to be “late” to the interview because of tech issues. 

The other major consideration for a virtual interview is the background that you select. The space that the interviewer sees behind you during the interview will cause the interviewer to draw some conclusions about how you are as a person. So put some thought into this. 

That is, you’ll want a background that implies professionalism such as an undecorated wall or a bookshelf. You do not want the interviewer to see a messy room with laundry strewn about and it’s best to avoid doing the interview in a bedroom if you can. 

Background noise is another possible distraction that you’ll want to keep in mind. 

Of course if you live on a busy street, you can’t control the sounds of passing traffic and with Zoom calls now standard business practice, people are more understanding of this. Nevertheless, close your windows. Also if you have a dog that’s prone to barking, you may want to keep him or her in another room during the interview. 

Otherwise, the preparation required for a virtual interview remains much as the same as it does for an in-person interview. For example, you’ll need to be dressed professionally and neatly groomed for both. You’ll want to wear office attire for both styles of interviews and make sure that you’re presentable and ready before the interview is set to begin. 

Arriving to the interview punctually is also essential. Whether you’re interviewing from the comfort of your own home or driving or taking public transportation to the venue where you’ll meet with the interviewer, you must show up on time. If the interview is in person, make sure you know the route to the location before the day of the interview. 

Before the interview, you’ll also want to prepare a few questions to ask either during the course of the interview or at the end when interviewers typically close by asking if there’s anything they can answer for you. You always want to respond to this offer in the affirmative as your questions will demonstrate both your interest in the job and in the organization. 

Your questions will also need to be intelligent, showing that you’ve researched the company before the interview because this is another strong indicator of how much you want the job and how much you want to work for this particular business. 

So begin by going through the organization’s website in detail. Start with the “About” section in order to learn specifics about the company’s size, history and importantly, their mission statement. You’ll want to go into the interview ready to talk about these aspects of the business.

Company blogs are also worth reading in order to learn more about the business. The blog’s tone speaks to how clients are addressed. The topics covered in the blog offer a more in-depth perspective of what specifically the organization is currently promoting about its services, products as well as its values. 

More and more companies also include a section about their community activism on their websites. It’s imperative to become well versed on how the organization gives back. The fact that they’ve included this information on their website signifies just how important it is to their business. So be prepared to discuss this during the interview or even to ask a question on the topic. 

If there’s a “news” or “press releases” section, check out their latest announcements. If they’ve recently launched a new product or service, you can bring this up in a positive manner during the interview. 

Looking at their social media pages, including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, is another means of gaining a more intimate understanding the company’s business and their values. Likewise, do a search on Google news to see what information is in the public domain about the company. You’ll want to go into the interview knowing more about the company than simply what appears on the website. 

Furthermore, you’ll also need to know the contents of the job posting like the back of your hand. If you have any questions about the post, be sure to ask them in the interview. However when you arrive to the interview, you should be ready to speak very clearly about parallels between your previous professional experience and possibly even your education and/or any volunteer work that you’ve done and the job criteria.

Following the interview, you should send a thank you email to recruiter or hiring manager with 24 hours. You should begin by thanking the person for his or her time and also mentioning something specific that you enjoyed learning about during the interview. Be sure to also reaffirm your interest in the position and the company. You can also reiterate why you would be a great fit for the role. Finally, let the interviewer know that you’re happy to answer any other questions that they may have or provide any additional information and then thank them again for their time and consideration. 

It’s normal to feel nervous going into a job interview, be it virtual or in person. But showing up prepared should make you feel more at ease with the process.