5 ways to ace your online job interview

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Thanks to COVID-19, online job interviews have become the norm. Career consultant Julie Knox explains how to make a winning impression, even when you’re not face-to-face.

Just when we thought life was slowly returning to normal, COVID-19 had other plans. With a second wave on our doorstep and harsher restrictions coming into play across the country, the way we live is constantly evolving.

One of the biggest changes has been the push towards remote working. And while you might have already found a way around working-from-home muscle pain, liberated yourself from wearing make-up every day and found a way to survive the endless stream of useless video meetings you’re put through every day, how prepared are you for a online job interview?

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Online interviews vs face-to-face interviews

“There are a few key differences between a virtual online interview and a face-to-face interview,” explains Julie Knox, career consultant and director of Blue Sky Career Consulting. “The most obvious is that the interviewers won’t be in the same room as you. This means it can be harder for both parties to read body language and subtle facial nuances that we intuitively pick up on when we are physically near someone.”

While a face-to-face interview usually involves a little small talk, during an online interview it’s often kept to a minimum. “Small talk is actually a vital part of a face-to-face interview where hiring managers gain a first impression. It’s important therefore to try to make a strong virtual first impression,” tips Knox.

There are some advantages to online interviews, though. Although it can be harder to build up a rapport, the interview itself is often shorter, doesn’t involve travel and means you can be in a more comfortable and familiar environment, like your living room.

Five ways to ace your online job interview

1. Take advantage of the privacy

“Use the fact that the interviewers aren’t in the room with you to your advantage,” tips Knox. “Set your laptop up against a wall and then stick post-its with your interview reminder notes around the top edge of your laptop. That way you can easily glance at your notes without the interviewer being aware!”

2. Look the part

At least from the waist up. Even though you’re not there in person, it’s still important to wear professional work attire, which includes donning make-up, neat hair, a smile and good eye contact with the camera. “Remember you can use the ‘Touch up my appearance’ setting if using Zoom,” notes Knox.

3. Think about your environment

“And your background setting,” tips Knox. “What can the interviewers see? Set the scene that makes the best impression. Additionally, test your equipment including your laptop camera and microphone (get a friend to call you if needed for a trial run) and ensure your Zoom/Skype/Teams or whatever software you are using is set up, ready and fully working (with professional usernames!)”

4. Choose a quiet space

As well as picking a spot away from dogs and kids, it’s also worth muting all notifications on your laptop to avoid unnecessary distractions or interruptions. “Ensure there is no background noise from email or social media pop-ups during the interview,” she tips. “Shut all other applications down and don’t be tempted to click away from the video screen or play with the settings during the call.”

5. Treat it like a face to face interview

“Just because it’s online doesn’t mean it’s any less of a formal interview – research the company, think about questions they might ask you, prepare responses and examples of achievements, have a couple of questions for them ready and close the interview professionally by thanking them for their time.”


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