September 25, 2021
Ace Your Next Virtual Interview

Ace Your Next Virtual Interview

As we collectively adapt to our brave new world in 2021, recent hiring trends have surfaced that pose new, unexpected challenges. One such challenge concerns job interview best practices, which have primarily shifted to a virtual format rather than the pre-2020, in-person structure that we knew well, for better or worse. For the most part, it was a given that we would arrive at a set location at least 10 minutes ahead of time, prepped and ready for an interview with a specific person or team. In today’s increasingly virtual job search landscape, there are new expectations and requirements to consider.

These expectations concern both the style of hiring and often unspoken expectations concerning technological proficiencies, interview etiquette and the process in general. For instance, is it ideal to conduct a job interview with the camera facing a personal area, such as the bed? Probably not. Could your interview require you to record yourself answering a set of pre-specified questions? Potentially! So how should you deal with these unknowns? Here are the top considerations for your next virtual interview:

Create a checklist for success: It can be challenging to consider all the variables required to make the best first impression. So why not make a list? The last thing you want is to “walk” into a virtual interview unprepared. Issues include a poorly lit candidate, underdressed, out of earshot or simply struggling to use the technology. To ensure success, brainstorm a list of topics you could run into from start to finish. These issues will typically lead to critical questions that require answers before jumping into a remote interview.

For instance, I once interviewed someone unaware that their entire face was blacked out by the sun because they were sitting in front of a window. Additionally, this candidate decided to wear a casual t-shirt – and sit in front of their unmade bed for the interview! From purchasing lighting equipment to practicing with new technology, creating a checklist boosts a candidate’s success rate.

Prepare for one-way video interviews: One of the most common job seeker grievances I hear post-2020 involves the rise of pre-recorded interviews. In a recent April 2020 article on Flexjobs.com, author Rachel Peleta outlines the top reasons why companies use one-way interviews and the best ways to pass each screening with flying colors. According to Peleta, “Sometimes called an asynchronous interview, a one-way interview is a pre-screening tool employers use to determine if you should move forward to the next round of interviews. These interviews usually ask three to five basic questions about who you are, why you applied for the job, [your] strengths and weaknesses, as well as other high-level items.”

A one-way interview streamlines HR processes by screening more candidates at one time, widening the candidate pool by removing restrictive location requirements and assessing a candidate’s technological skills. This pre-recorded interview is then added to a candidate’s initial application and plays a significant part in determining the next steps in the hiring process. An asynchronous interview can feel, well, weird. Make sure to prep heavily, ask plenty of questions and look directly at the camera as you record – not at your image – to give the impression of maintaining eye contact with your interviewers.

Show and tell: One common interview mistake involves answering questions without providing examples. In a virtual interview, rapport is more challenging to build, so use real-life examples to support your answers to each interview question. For instance, a common interview question is, “Give me three words to describe yourself.” Rather than simply giving three words, ground each skill set in a story. Using examples helps interviewers envision you performing this action and, more importantly, begin to see you as a colleague rather than a job candidate.

Of course, it can be easy to stumble when answering basic interview questions remotely! In a recent video by Houston-based HR professional Melanie Woods of CGL Recruiting, drafting responses to the top 10 most common interview questions will help candidates ace interviews and land jobs. Questions like, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Or “What is your biggest weakness?” are best considered before an interview to ensure a candidate moves to the next stage in the hiring process.

As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes commonplace, face-to-face interviews may resurface. However, there are plenty of reasons why virtual interviews put a candidate at an advantage. Someone’s ability to control their environment from the comfort of their home – regardless of the location – provides job seekers with an advantage over more traditional interview practices. The aforementioned tips lay the groundwork for not only acing your next interview but landing a new job.

Key Takeaways:

  • Create a checklist for success: The last thing you want is to “walk” into a virtual interview unprepared. Issues include a poorly lit candidate, underdressed, out of earshot, or simply struggling to use the technology. To ensure success, brainstorm a list of topics you could run into from start to finish. These issues will typically lead to critical questions you will need to answer.
  • Prepare for one-way video interviews: An asynchronous interview can feel, well, weird. Make sure to prep heavily, ask plenty of questions, and look directly at the camera as you record – not at your image – to give the impression of maintaining eye contact with your interviewers.
  • Show and tell: Drafting responses to the top 10 most common interview questions helps candidates ace interviews and land jobs. Questions like, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Or “What is your biggest weakness?” are best considered before an interview to ensure a candidate moves to the next stage in the hiring process. Show interviewers what you bring to the table using real-life examples to ground your answers to each question.
Author profile

An editorial specialist and resume expert, Amanda Rico, PhD, helps senior and executive-level professionals optimize their career profiles, pivot to alternative career paths, land jobs and level up! Currently a columnist for the Houston Business Journal, she writes on the intersection between career trends, job search strategies, and the energy and petroleum industries. Dr. Rico, who holds a PhD in English from Texas A&M University, will be writing OILWOMAN’S Competitive Edge column, providing accessible, actionable advice to E&P pros. Connect with her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/amandaricophd

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