By Laura Myers, associate director of student career advising, serving students in the School of Communication and Bienen School of Music.
Congratulations, you landed an interview! You’ve been practicing answering interview questions but you just found out it’s not over the phone, or in person, it’s virtual! Whether it’s a Skype interview or a digital interview using a program such as HireVue, it’s important to plan ahead and present yourself in the best way possible for ultimate success.
Practice: Mock virtual interviews with a friend or career adviser can help you gain confidence, improve your interview skills, and get familiar with the technology.
Make your space interview-appropriate. A quiet room free of distractions with a neutral wall to serve as a backdrop is best. Ideally, this is a space that you have to yourself, but if others will be nearby, let them know in advance so that they can give you privacy for the duration of your interview. The last thing you need is a knock on your door in the middle of your interview. (If you’re in need of a quiet space for your virtual interview, interview rooms are available for Northwestern students in NCA’s Interview Center at 630 Lincoln St. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a room.)
Think about lighting. You want to try to look the same virtually that you would in person. Place a lamp at either side of your desk (at the same height as your webcam or higher) to ensure the room is well lit. At the very least, make sure you don’t have a light shining behind you.
Consider the location of your webcam. I think we all know by now that the selfie shot from above, though annoying, is a really flattering angle. The best position for your webcam is at your eye-level, pointing slightly down.
Present yourself professionally. Dress in business professional attire for a virtual interview, just as you would for an in-person interview. Also, be mindful of your body language. A smile and good posture convey confidence and enthusiasm!
Make eye contact with the camera. Instead of looking directly at your computer screen, focus on the camera to maintain natural eye contact with your interviewer. It may help to place a post-it note with a smiley face above the camera hole.
Test your connection. Confirm that audio and video are clear prior to your interview for both you and the person with whom you’re connecting. Make sure that you have a strong Wi-Fi connection (or, even better, connect to a router with a network cable to avoid a disconnection).
Update your profile. When doing a Skype interview, your interviewer will see your Skype username and picture, so it’s important that both are professional.
Minimize interruptions. Shut out of other computer programs beforehand so that the video screen is the only window open during the interview. This especially includes applications that make noise, such as social media and Gmail.
Send a thank you note. Make sure to get your interviewer’s contact information, if you don’t already have it, and send a note within 48 hours. Find tips for writing a thank you note on the NCA website.
Sources and Additional Information on Virtual Interviews
- USA TODAY College: http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/personal/2013/08/01/13-tips-for-a-great-skypeinterview/2608915/
- Big Interview: https://biginterview.com/blog/2014/11/video-interview.html
- The Muse: https://www.themuse.com/advice/skype-hype-the-key-to-acing-yourvirtual-interview