Preparing for the "New Normal": A Guide to Virtual Interviews

fay-mcfarlane.jpg  Senior Outreach PR Executive, Mediaworks.

  WWS contributor


Whilst those searching for work in the new year are going to be facing stiffer competition, there is an additional challenge — the virtual interview process.

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With more Covid-19 lockdown measures coming in the new year 2021 in places like the UK, sadly, the future of the labor market is looking rather bleak around the world.

Recent reports suggest that the UK is on course for the worst recession in more than 300 years. The Institute for Policy Research meanwhile warned that more than one million young people in the UK will be unemployed in 2021.  

Whilst those searching for work in the new year are going to be facing stiffer competition, there is an additional challenge — the virtual interview process.

Online interviews have been a part of many companies’ processes for years, but since the Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown was implemented, it has become a staple.

Furthermore, the virtual interview looks as if it’s here to stay thanks to the fact it allows employers to interview a plethora of candidates in a short space of time, at little expense to the business.

Additionally, unsuitable applicants can simply be sifted out prior to their and the employer’s time being wasted at a face-to-face interview.

We now understand why companies will be keen to maintain the idea of a virtual alternative, let’s look at how you, the jobseeker, can make sure you utterly boss your opportunity.


The New Norm: Online Interviews


One of the first things to be aware of is the fact that an online interview is different — disregarding the obvious. If you treat like a standard face-to-face interview, failing to adjust yourself, chances are you’ll face a particularly rude awakening.

Professional interview coach Sarah Johnston told the BBC:

“Interviewing online and interviewing in person are two completely different experiences. Job seekers share that it can be challenging to connect with the interviewer online because there is often less small talk and its harder to pick up on non-verbal cues.


Best Virtual Interview Tips for 2021


Be clear on where you’re going


For face-to-face interviews, you probably sat down the night before and planned out how you’re going to get there, checking Google Maps, parking, and the entrance to the building.

Your virtual interview should be no different — well, maybe a little. Discover how to use the platform it’s going to occur on. The recruiter should instruct you in advance of where the interview will take place, whether it’s Zoom, Skype, Teams, or another alternative.

Try and conduct a trial run before the big day with a friend or family member and ensure you know what’s what.


Fail to prepare, prepare to fail


Although this might seem like somewhat of a cliché, but a lack of preparation is only going to result in one thing — disaster. Just because the interviewer isn’t in the room with you doesn’t mean that you can just sit and read off a script the entire time.

Always research the company beforehand, know the details of the job you’re applying for, and most importantly, know what you’re going to say when they ask you questions!

Check both your camera and microphone work. The last thing you want to do is start flustering because things aren’t working.


Always dress up


Even though you might not be attending a fancy office block; that doesn’t mean you should turn off your professionalism.

Make sure you wear the exact same attire as you would if it was a traditional interview. Tailor this decision depending on the company. If they are a typically formal company then wear a suit or a dress.

Alternatively, if you’re going for a role at a more modern, laidback business, then you may want to adapt and wear something slightly more relaxed such as a plain black shirt or woman’s blouse.

Don’t be tempted into pulling on a shirt and tie without the trousers as this could seriously backfire if you need to get up to grab a document or pull a blind!


Have a strategic set up


A definite difficulty of conducting your interview over webcam and not in the office of the employer is the potential hazards that could make you fluff your lines.

It is imperative you plan strategically where you are going to sit. It’s probably best not to sit directly in front of a window or a door, as you might get an unwanted ray of light appearing.

We’d advise picking a space at a table in front of a blank background. If you have kids, or anyone else living in the house, warn them that you are going to be on a call for a certain period of time.

Also make sure that the washing machine or tumble dryer isn’t going to transcend into a high spin and pop your mobile phone on silent for the duration.

There are a number of ways you can prepare for your online interview, helping you to get that all important job. But most importantly — just stay calm!

Fay McFarlane is Senior Outreach PR Executive at Mediaworks Online Marketing. With 3 years experience in the retail industry, Fay is also an effective salesperson who can deliver exceptional customer service.