In 2020, most legal professionals had to become familiar with working remotely. This involved being available to regularly videoconference either externally with clients or internally with colleagues. Now that companies are heading back into the office, we may not be on as many Zoom calls as we were but there certainly has been a large shift in the willingness of businesses to utilize this technology. Whether we like it or not, videoconferencing is here to stay and with that there will be more openness by employers to conduct virtual interviews in the coming years.
Not every employer will require a virtual interview but if you are an active job seeker, you will want to make yourself available to attend one and become comfortable with the process. In this article, we will discuss best practices and how to prepare for a virtual/videoconference interview.
Practice, practice, practice! Well, you may not need to practice three times, but I would certainly test your computer and its settings at least once before your interview. Nothing can derail a virtual meeting faster than your equipment not being set up correctly at the beginning of an interview. Ideally, tests should be done an hour or two before the scheduled interview to make sure no settings are changed between testing and the actual interview. Here is a quick checklist:
- Do you have the software downloaded that you will need for the virtual call? (ie Zoom, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, etc.) The type of platform you will use should have been provided or it may be listed in a calendar invite you received.
- Does your computer come with a camera? If not, you can pick up a decent external computer camera for less than $30.
- I highly recommend having a family member or friend test your connection, making sure that you are able to join a test meeting successfully. Your testing buddy will need to download the software as well on their device in order for this to happen.
- While testing, be sure to check that your microphone and speakers are working properly. If you plan to use a headphone, Bluetooth earpieces, or a headset, be sure to test those devices as well.
- I would also check to make sure that your video quality settings are set to high and that you are coming through in a clear image.
- Ensure the lighting in your room is working in your favor. It is recommended that you have a good light source in front of you, to show of that smile. You will want to avoid having too much light behind you which will cast a shadow over your face. If needed, investing in a video conferencing light will help as well.
On a side note, you may be able to conduct the interview with a mobile device or tablet if you do not have a computer with a camera. I would still test the items listed above beforehand to confirm everything is working smoothly.
This is an area I think more people should take stock in. In 2020, there were plenty of opportunities for us all to see how organized or how disorganized some of our colleagues’ or client’s home office could be.
For me personally, I work in my den/office/guest bedroom that I have personalized with all sorts of knickknacks and things I have collected over the years. I probably should have thrown them all away by now, but I do not have the heart to. These items are all over the walls and can be a bit distracting or potentially off-putting to prospects. Because of that, whenever I have an important virtual meeting with a new client or candidate, I will actually move my laptop to my dining room. The walls in that room are less cluttered and I try to find a spot with just a blank wall behind me. Presenting a cluttered wall in my background is not the professional first impression I would prefer to give.
In order to make a great first impression, find a spot in your home that portrays the professional style you are trying to convey to a hiring manager. Take it a step further and pull up the camera before your interview and see what your background will look like. Some videoconferencing platforms can create a ‘virtual’ clean background for you as well, kind of like a green screen used in movies.
When conducting a virtual interview, dress for the part. Meaning yes, you need to be wearing pants and even nice shoes. You never know when the camera could accidentally move in that direction, or you might need to get up to answer an unexpected knock at the door (hopefully not!).
We cannot forget that your personality and energy are top attributes that can set you apart in the interviewing process. Unfortunately, these two items can get frayed in a virtual meeting. Audio and video in virtual meetings, while as great as it is in today’s world, will still lose aspects of your character and body language. Be expressive, sit up straight, convey warmth, and look directly into the camera (not your screen). I suggest recording yourself in a practice interview to see how your personality is being conveyed on camera.
Do not forget to be personable, this is still an actual interview where you want the interviewer to get to know you and like you! Jumping right into business will shortchange you in this area.
Do not allow regular or potential distractions in your home to become disruptive while interviewing. Put your phone on silent, turn off any appliances that might make noises, and put the dog in the other room.
Preparing for a virtual interview can be a little daunting but taking the steps listed above can help put your best foot forward and ensure a successful first impression. Be sure to complete all the other items you would normally do before and after an interview. Such as prepping for the interview beforehand by reviewing the job description you are applying for, researching the company, and generating any pertinent questions you have. Afterwards, always follow up and ask for feedback.