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Virtual interview, actual results

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Interviewing has gone virtual, virtually overnight. Here’s five tips you need to know now.

Nearly 9 out of 10 employers in the U.S., including Amazon, LinkedIn and Facebook, have  shifted to 100% virtual interviews due to the global pandemic. That’s an entirely new set of hurdles for applicants to overcome; and it means everything from bandwidth to backgrounds, and even overstimulated toddlers have to be accounted for. Here are five tips to help you turn your next virtual interview into an actual job:

Be comfortable with your technology. Shut down unnecessary applications and set yourself up in a clean, quiet space with the best wifi connection possible. Interviewers are sympathetic to technical difficulties…but they have their limits. If you seem overwhelmed by technology, you’re not putting out the “I can deal with adversity”-vibes employers often look for. 

Be camera-ready.  Eye-contact is as important in a virtual meeting as it is in-person, so be sure you’re looking directly into the lens. Position your webcam a little higher than your head, if at all possible, and look straight into your camera to effectively mimic eye contact. Try moving the window containing the interviewer’s video as close to your webcam as possible, so you’ll appear to be watching them speak, not staring off into the distance. 

According to Vice President of Employee Success and Talent Acquisition Alvin Lam, the biggest keys to a virtual interview are ultimately very similar to what they would be in-person.

Be prepared. 

Obviously, you’ll want to prepare by learning as much as you can about what the company does and what your interviewer’s role is. But preparation doesn’t end there. “Come in with a discussion framework in mind,” says Lam. You’ve already got an agenda: Why I’m Right For This Job. You should be able to make a focused, concise case for that outcome—  “…and have specific examples of your experiences that are relevant to the job you want.”

Be relevant – and 100% authentic.

You might have an entertaining, authentic story about the summer you spent as a river rafting guide. But if that experience isn’t truly relevant to the software engineering job you’re going for, you’re better off saving it for later. “It’s important to tie in your experiences to the job you’re applying for,” says Lam, “and definitely be 100% authentic about what you are truly responsible for.”

Be concise.

It’s tempting to use 100 words where five will do. Don’t. If you’re being transparent about your goals, your skills and your experience, you’ll check off the proverbial “boxes” that company is looking for – and reduce the likelihood of a technical snafu. Lam suggests “Let your experience do the talking.” 

At the end of the day, an interview is an interview, whether it’s virtual or in-person. We hope these tips will help you focus on what matters most—letting the best possible you come through. 

Originally published Aug 06, 2020, updated Dec 30, 2022

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