Are you nervous your online job interview will not be as effective as it would have been face-to-face? Are you afraid, you cannot shine as you could have in a physical interview? And are you worried you will miss out on some important details because it all happens on a screen?
Then we urge you to continue reading, as we want to share some tips that are based on scientifically proven facts, and which can help you to succeed in your first (or second…) online job interview – whether you are hiring, or you are the candidate.
The Right Match Can Easily Be Made Online
There are several benefits to having online job interviews; it is time saving and there are no health risks in times of a pandemic. Other more surprising factors have also been highlighted through research: According to a scientific rapport from Hudson 2020, some of the benefits of having online interviews include fewer unconscious biases and higher accuracy when matching candidates’ skills to a position. This is because the interviewer has fewer non-verbal clues to go by and, therefore, is less likely to be affected by factors that are not related to the candidates’ competencies. In other words, unconscious biases, which could prevent the right candidate from landing the job, are not as present in online interviews as compared to physical interviews. Also, in online interviews, the interviewer becomes more focused on what is actually being said and takes more notes which ensures a more well-founded match.
Tips for the Hiring Company
There are things, however, which you can do to make the online job interview a better experience for the people involved. For instance, studies have proved it to be quite successful to start the interview in an informal way. Had the interview been conducted physically, there would have been room for small talk on the way to the interview room or while getting a coffee refill. In online meetings, informal conversation has to be facilitated more actively, because people more often jump to the formal part as soon as everyone is present on-screen. Therefore, we recommend you start the interview with 2-5 minutes of polite small talk. This will take the edge of any butterflies.
If there are more interviewers present, it can be a good idea to decide beforehand, on who should facilitate the job interview, to avoid interrupting each other and to ensure a clear structure. This may not be necessary for physical interviews, but it can be a helpful to do online as it can be difficult to sense when others wish to speak.
A tip for Both Parties
Human beings interact by mirroring each other and by reading a number of non-verbal cues. This is harder to do online which means that we are more likely to have a passive body language during an online meeting compared to when we meet physically. You may have noticed this during online meetings as most people are starring on the screen with a blank expression and without smiling or nodding. Be aware of your own body language and make sure it signals what you mean to show.
Nod and smile to what is being said but keep from verbal confirmations such as “Yes” and “Mhh” in-between sentences, as this can be disturbing because your voice will be delayed by a few nano-seconds and can disturb the flow in the interview. And finally, do not judge your own or the other’s performance too harshly as online job interviews are still a new phenomenon to many.
Tips for the Candidate
As a candidate, there are a number of things that you should be aware of when participating in an online job interview. Most of these are technical: Before your meeting, check if you know the media platform. Is it Zoom? Teams? Skype? Do you know how to use the platform? If not, try it out with a friend or a family member before your interview, to avoid technical mishaps.
You would also want to think about your physical background, and what you are wearing. The interviewer will have very few visual cues to go by to form an opinion about you, and this can serve to your advantage as it prevents unprofessional biases, but it is a smart move to make sure, the interviewer can see something that soothes the eye. Choose a simple background like a plain wall for your background. Avoid having windows as your background this can obstruct the right light and make it impossible to see your face. If using Teams, avoid doing it on your phone as the camera zooms far too close to your face.
Consider if you would want to wear neutral colours without prints as these can be confusing to the eye. Make sure, the light is bright enough for the interviewer to see you properly. Try to elevate your screen, to keep it is as much at eyelevel as possible. From scientific studies, we know that unconscious biases are nearly impossible to prevent, and though they are more limited in an online job interview, they may not be completely gone. These suggestions will help you ensure that the unconscious biases work in your favour and guide the impression, you want to leave with your interviewer.
The last two pieces of advice are: Try not to leave your screen during the interview; it will be a good idea to have a notepad, a pen and some water within reach during the interview. Also, make sure you have the interviewer’s phone number in case there are any technical issues. In our experience, technical issues cannot be totally avoided.
If you have an online interview coming up and this seems like unfamiliar territory, do not worry: Using an online job interview, the right match between an employer and a candidate can easily be made. This is because while some non-verbal cues are unavailable to the interviewer, the interviewer becomes less affected by unconscious biases that would otherwise have blocked their ability to see candidates clearly. Instead, candidate and interviewer become more focused on what the other one is actually saying, and they can base their choices on this rather than any unconscious biases. Also, during online interviews, people tend to take more notes which help the memory and can prove vital, when having to make a choice later in the process.