How to prepare for a virtual interview?

Since everyone is keen to practice social distancing, virtual and phone interviews have become popular. It’s now a necessity rather than a convenience. Not that we are complaining. Imagine how much time, fuel cost and stress you are cutting down on?

Yet, why do we find ourselves complacent when we have to e-meet a potential employer? Moreover, how does this hurt our chances to find employment? And how could we up our game, especially in the present context? Find the answers to all these questions below.

Why is it important to prepare for a virtual interview?

Sri Lanka’s unemployment rate increased from 4.5% in the last quarter of 2019 to 5.7% during the first quarter of 2020. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you know why. The pandemic led to job losses and had companies declare themselves bankrupt. This implies you’re likely to face severe competition for job vacancies in Sri Lanka. This is not only true for government job vacancies in Sri Lanka but for the private sector too.

Moreover, the other applicants may score better with greater skills, qualifications and experience. At least, on CV. But hold on a sec! This is not why you should give up but why you must leverage any opportunity you get to its fullest. We’ll tell you how in the next section.

Successful phone interview tips

1.      Preparation

  • The first step to receiving an interview invite is to mail an up-to-date resume. Ensure you proofread your curriculum vitae. One with wrong spellings and poor grammar will create a bad impression. Further, customise your CV to highlight the job specific skills you have. If necessary, look up CV examples and templates available online. Choose a clean, professional CV format that suits your profession. Likewise, write a cover letter for CV. This should emphasise why you’re the right candidate for the post. Companies reject 76% of resumes due to incompetent emails.
  • Meanwhile, the company expects you to prepare yourself for the phone interview. For example, study the company website and browse their social media accounts. If possible, learn about the interviewer as well. For instance, watch their videos and have a look at their LinkedIn profile. This way, you can get an idea of the company so you know what to say in the phone interview. 

2.    Setting

  • Remember all those funny videos of family members interrupting a professional video call? Take necessary precautions to avoid such incidents during a virtual interview. For example, get someone to look after kids or pets and tell everyone not to disturb you.
  • Set up your laptop or mobile device in a quiet area with good lighting. Remove any distractions in the background. A minimalistic view is likely to be more pleasant for your interviewer. Likewise, be mindful of the camera. Try to position yourself in the centre of the screen. If you’re using a mobile, make sure it’s not lopsided. A mobile stand is a useful tool. 

3.      Dress and Body Language

  • Dress up in your best professional attire. A well-groomed look creates a good first impression and boosts your confidence. A handshake helps you both connect but a virtual interview eliminates such a gesture. Thus, do the next best thing – Smile! Similarly, use eye contact, nod your head where appropriate and sit comfortably. Your enthusiasm and energy speaks louder than words.
  • Meanwhile, speak clearly when you answer the phone interview questions. There are tons of resources showing you how to prepare for a phone interview. These may also contain phone interview questions with sample answers. Get an idea from them but don’t memorise standard replies. You don’t want to come across as if you’re reading out from a phone interview script. Interviewers can immediately see through that. In short, be authentic. You can keep a sheet of paper with points you want to convey during the phone interview conversation. Also remember, it’s an opportunity for you to understand the organisation’s expectations from you.

 4.      Technology

  • Charge your device beforehand but keep the chargers nearby, just in case.
  • Put the phone in silent and turn off notifications. You don’t want to look distracted during the interview because your Facebook friend just tagged you on a meme or you received yet another forwarded message on COVID-19 cure from your WhatsApp family group.
  • Test the internet connectivity. If possible, check the quality of the network before the interview. This way, you can figure out an alternative way or spot well in advance. 

5.      Other points to remember

  • Be ready at least 10 minutes before the scheduled time.
  • Keep a glass of water close at hand.
  • Have a pen and notebook ready to take down points.
  • Print a copy of your CV. You don’t want to fumble around on your computer or phone for a soft copy when the interviewer refers to your resume.  

6.      Follow Up

After the phone interview, a thank you email is mandatory. Thank the interviewer for his or her time and mention that you look forward to their response. Send this email within 24 hours of the interview. In fact, most recruiters expect one from you. It shows them you’re serious about the job. This is an important consideration on any list of how to ace an online job interview.

How to conduct a phone interview?

On the other hand, you might be the recruiter, planning on how to conduct virtual interviews. Firstly, remember to ask high quality interview questions. This may prompt candidates to open up more about specific points on their resumes. As a result, you can assess their capabilities and personality much better. Secondly, consider other aspects to discuss beyond common phone interview questions. For e.g. how did they handle an unexpected development in their career.

Furthermore, the list of your phone interview questions must provide value to you. Most recruiters say finding the right talent is the biggest challenge. But asking creative questions is likely to help you find the best candidate. Finally, be a keen listener and encourage questions. And don’t forget to end the interview with clear instructions on when they can expect to hear from you.

Next step to find a job?

A fascinating development in the job market is the rise in remote working. This creates new online jobs in Sri Lanka. Some of these are part time jobs in Colombo. Did you know, ikmanJOBS keeps a tab on the job market in the country? We’ve partnered with prominent employers, so that you first get to hear about job openings on our website. From full time to part time jobs in Sri Lanka, our vacancy listings give you what you’re looking for. Moreover, you can set up your profile on ikmanJOBS for a faster and simpler job hunt than ever before. 

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