Preparing for online interview

The online interview has been a well-known tool in the selection process for quite a few years now, and the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020 has made even sceptics finally accept it. Unfortunately, this method is not yet as effective as a face-to-face meeting, so we have gathered a piece of advice to make the conversation more effective for both the interviewee and the employer.

Most of the advice seems self-evident, but we still make mistakes often. Do not deceive yourself that the sound and picture do not matter, only what you say. If the circumstances do not come together (crackling sound, grainy image), the interviewer is much more likely to get bored and incorporate external problems into his/her possible negative decision.


Circumstances:

  • Have good quality of internet. If a conversation is really important, choose a place where appropriate bandwidth is securely available. It is recommended to allow both mobile internet and Wi-Fi on your mobile phone. That way any of your network is weak, the device can automatically switch to the other one.
  • Have enough energy. Plug your notebook in the charger and freshly charge your mobile phone and headset. The conversation may take a long time, do not let any of the devices ruin the interview.
  • Dress elegantly. You should appear neatly dressed even in an online interview. Suit and tie or costume are maybe a little too much, but smart casual is recommended by all means. And yes, your trousers also should be elegant, so if you have to stand up from your chair you won’t be embarrassed. Elegant clothing has another positive effect on a good impression: You are also attuned to the situation of the interview.
  • Sit still in front of the screen. There is no problem with moving or making gestures at a personal interview, but in an online interview it is much more disturbing if you are constantly „jumping out” from the picture. In addition, if you move your head and look aside (and you don’t have a headset), your voice can be more difficult to hear as well.
  • Exclude disturbing conditions. Whether you connect from home or from other places, warn your family or colleagues not to disturb you. Close the door.
  • Log in on time. It is recommended to log in a few minutes earlier, thus even a badly timed automatic software update won’t confuse you.

Video image:

  • Have a video image. It sounds trivial, yet sometimes we run into "my camera doesn't work", "I don't have a camera on my PC" and similar responses. If they didn’t want to see you, they would have called you on a normal cell phone. The image is important for both parties, it is much easier to make a long lasting good impression if the conversation can be tied to a face. See video calling as an opportunity, a chance to make a good impression.
  • Have a good quality camera. Fortunately modern notebooks already have pretty good cameras that are perfect for video chats. For older machines it is recommended to get an external camera and try it out in advance. Interviewing from mobile phones should be avoided, there are fewer setup options on mobile apps than on desktop versions, and mobile image quality is generally poorer. Although mobile phone cameras are very good quality in themselves, but for video calling, unfortunately, we can only use their much weaker front camera.
  • Try to imitate real conversations. The camera should be approx. at eye level, it can be useful placing a few books under the notebook. Mobile phones also should be raised higher. An image focusing on the toad from below can be very illusion-destroying.
  • Find a stable place for your mobile phone. If you have to make the on-line interview from your mobile, be sure to fix it well. If you hold it in your hands, the movements you feel tiny seems like big jumps on the other side. It is recommended to build a platform for your phone from books, boxes, beer bottles, etc. the point is not to slip and that the phone should be in a vertical position.
  • Have enough light. Sit in front of the window and in the evening place a small lamp in front of you.
  • But there shouldn’t be light behind you. It is a common mistake to have a light window or a hanging ceiling lamp behind someone so that only a dark silhouette is visible in front of the great brightness. Overall, it’s best to sit in front of a wall or bookshelf, in front of a window.

Sound:

  • Do not rely solely on the microphone of your notebook or mobile phone. The characteristics of these microphones are calibrated to sounds coming from a relatively close range, turning steadily towards the microphone and eliminating external noise can be used to talk smoothly. Using a headset is much simpler and produces better quality. The best is a headset with microphone specifically designed for conversations (so-called call-center). The Bluetooth connection is the most convenient, but the wired version is also perfect in terms of sound quality.
  • Try the headset in advance. A Bluetooth headset has many setting options, practice, be confident. If your headset is connected to more devices (e.g. mobile or notebook), turn off the Bluetooth on the other device for the duration of the conversation because if you connected to one, the other will not find it. If there is no sound, you can set the source of the desired microphone and audio output in the „Open sound settings” menu on Windows devices by clicking on the Speakers icon on the taskbar.

Software:

  • Skype. Teams. Zoom. And much more. If you used one of them, you will be able to handle the others without any special learning. Before a live deployment, it is worth to test with a friend to see if everything is downloaded and enabled.
  • Be found. Especially with Skype, it is important to fill out your basic information in detail so you can be found by either email address or mobile number. A common mistake with Skype is that you did not make yourself searchable, so: Skype / Settings/ Contacts / Search, Appear in Search Results, Yes would be required for sure to be found. Zoom and Teams build on invitations, if you did not get one, then you can also send it to the chat partner in advance.
  • Choose a background wisely. It is best to use a natural, room background that looks through the camera. Nowadays, most apps offer the ability to blur the background, so take advantage of this if you feel very unacceptable about your room or are afraid of appearing passers-by in the background. On the other hand, if there is no problem with the furnishing, a clearly visible background will help to make a good impression. However, we definitely discourage everyone from the generated virtual background (e.g. in the case of Zoom).
  • Use chat. During a conversation, you can share links with the conversation partner, like references and articles about you on the web. This will help him/her to remember you.