Career Advice

7 Steps to Online Interview Success
Shane Laros posted on June 24, 2016 |

New technology changes lives and careers daily, and if you’re currently looking for a job, you’ll likely notice a shift to online interviews over in person meetings.

With an online interview likely to factor into your job search, Kevin Nall, director of operations for Baylor University’s office of career and professional development has some tips to ensure you put your best face forward.

 

  1. Treat the online interview as if it’s a face-to-face interview.

Your research and preparation leading up to the interview should be as in depth and comprehensive as it would have been if the interview was in person. Any Q&A portions will have the same questions – and require the same well thought out answers.

 

  1. Know and test your technology – specifically, your internet connection.

Anyone who has tried to stream a presentation or pitch remotely knows the pain of a poor internet connection – and as an engineer, you’ll be expected to know and handle your own technology. While a company’s HR contact may test connections with you prior to your interview, it’s a good idea to check all your tech yourself beforehand to ensure there won’t be any hiccups.

One thought to keep in mind is the strength of your wireless signal. Nall recommends using a wired Ethernet connection rather than wireless.

“On a wireless network, you tend to have more buffering between questions and answers, and signal reliability can be an issue. It becomes incredibly frustrating when the interviewer and candidate are talking over one another. We’ve all seen news interviews via video where the reporter asks a question and the interviewee sits and stares at the screen for a number of seconds before answering. You don’t want that in a job interview,” Nall said.

 

  1. Create an appropriate atmosphere.

Your Baywatch poster and the hamper of dirty clothes in the room may not be the most appropriate for a potential new boss to see. “This can hurt the candidate’s credibility,“ Nall noted. He also suggests that you consider your surroundings for noise and distracting background movement. “I think it is incredibly important for candidates to find a place they know will be quiet for the interview, both inside the room as well as away from outside noise.”

 

  1. Make sure the camera is at eye level.

This sounds like it should be common sense, but adjusting the camera location is something often forgotten. According to Nall, “Many candidates fail to elevate their laptop or desktop computer and end up leaning down to the camera. We spend the entire interview looking up the candidate’s nose.” He added, “Also, do not sit too close to the camera. That is equally disturbing because we end up seeing nothing but your face in an extreme close-up.”

Many video platforms provide a smaller image of yourself, which you should use as a reference to help ensure your face is appropriately framed on the screen. When checking this image, however, keep the next tip in mind.

 

  1. Look at the camera, not the screen.

This is likely the most difficult part for people inexperienced at conducting video interviews. “Depending on how the interviewer has set up the view, you will typically see the interviewers in the main screen and a smaller picture of yourself in the corner,” Nall said.

“We tend to find that confuses some candidates. It almost looks as if they are watching a tennis match. They are unsure of where they should be looking, the screen…the camera…the screen…the camera, and on and on. Make it simple on yourself and just look into the camera and treat it as if it is the interviewer. It’ll make you look much more appealing and keep you from straining your neck.”

 

  1. Conduct a practice interview.

This is good advice for any interview, but particularly for one conducted online. “Skype with a friend and have them ask you questions as if you are conducting an interview,” Nall said.

Having solid and well-thought answers on the fly comes from preparation. Interviewers know this, and know the effort you will have put into getting ready for your interview.

This will also give you the chance to test and practice the previous tips, so you will be fully prepared with your equipment setup, camera location and knowing where to look when it comes time to do the real interview.

 

  1. Dress for success.

It’s probably not a good idea to conduct any interview in your pyjamas, even if you believe the interviewer will only see you from the neck up.

Nall suggests a full suit and tie, the same as you would wear for an in-person interview, but adds that this will depend on your industry. When in doubt, ask the company’s HR contact who is arranging your interview what would be expected. He adds, “If you can’t get that information, my advice is to err on the side of caution and go with the coat and tie.”

Looking for more tips on engineering interviews? Check out our webinar 3 Keys to Nailing Your Engineering Job Interview.

 

For more stories from Shane Laros, click here.

 

For more stories from Shane Laros, click here.

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