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How to Ace an Online Job Interview - Top Tips to Make Sure you Succeed

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Don't let 'hindsight' ruin your chances of success with foresight - forward planning.

The pandemic saw a growth in the number of people working from home and If you're lucky enough to get an interview, it's more than likely to be conducted online via Skype or Zoom than face-to-face, as employers have realised that employees can successfully work from home, a trend that is expected to continue even when Covid restrictions are lifted.

How to avoid and prepare for any technical issues that may occur during the interview

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  • We've all had those moments when we've forgotten to connect the wi-fi. Or the moment we're about to begin an important time-sensitive task that our computer needs to restart for a critical update, so check your systems update schedule.
  • Audio. 1 2 1 2. Mic-check your microphone. The first conversation you will have with your potential employer will probably be, 'hello, can you hear me and see me okay'?
  • Webcam Test your lighting (natural, artificial, or a combination) to compliment your appearance — you want to appear fresh and well-rested — and make sure you present well
  • Enlist a friend who can be available at least an hour prior to your interview to connect with you in a web meeting to help you test your equipment. They might also notice issues from the other side of the connection
  • Turn off all other technology that requires wi-fi usage. during an in-person interview.
  • Be sure to close all background applications, or you risk out-of-sync audio and video and transmission delays (lags) and possibly a disconnection.
  • Relocate your wi-fi router as close to your computer as possible to ensure the best connection and avoid transmission delays, especially during international calls.
  • Make sure everyone in your home is aware of your interview and waits until you are finished so that all available wi-fi resources are dedicated to getting you a job.
  • Check you have enough mobile or Internet data to avoid being cut off during a potential 60-minute meeting..

Making the right Impression

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A study examining the art of first impressions found the first seven seconds of meeting people will have a solid impression of who you are — and some research suggests a tenth of a second is all it takes to start determining traits like trustworthiness.

  • Wear smart, clean, comfortable, professional or business-appropriate clothing that helps you feel more confident. If you're required to stand up to retrieve a document or other during an interview, you do not want to be caught 'literally' in your underpants, so fully dress!
  • Avoid wearing striped clothing or busy clothing (clothing with patterns or logos).

We always feel at home when we're home, but we need to create a business-like environment to get into the role/zone

  • Look for the quietest room in the home, away from potential disruptions and disturbances from inside and outside.
  • Use your computer and webcam for the meeting, instead of your smartphone; your computer is a much better option, more professional, and shows stability.
  • Reduce all visual distractions in the frame, including all obstacles between you and the prospective employer — e.g, people, pets, children, robotic devices, and anything distracting such as shadows and reflections.
  • Choose your background wisely. I would not recommend a 'book-lined shelf' to be the best background for an online meeting, but a blank wall to eliminate visual distractions in the frame.
  • Ask a neighbour or friend to look after pets or younger children who may find it hard to keep quiet, especially if you anticipate the interview to run longer than an hour.
  • Eliminate the potential for unpredictable and unexpected distractions — it might be impossible to disconnect your doorbell, but you can place a note on your door: (interview in progress: Please return after 2 pm).
  • Mute your smartphone and 'mute' all other mobile devices to avoid unwanted notification sounds.

It's always best to be as natural as possible, but be especially mindful of your body language

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  • Pay attention to your posture. It can be very easy to start slouching, fidgeting and fiddling, especially when you're in a comfortable home environment, so try to be mindful that someone is watching you at all times.
  • Keep your movements to a minimum, your head in the middle of the screen and your body at arm's length to your webcam at all times. Also, maintain good eye contact. These communicate self-control and discipline, confidence and professionalism. even if you're not feeling it. Remember: if you cannot sit still for a one-hour interview, why would a prospective employer believe you can sit still and work for eight hours?
  • Ask your family, partner, or friends to ask you interview prep questions so that you can prepare to give more meaningful answers as well as receive helpful feedback from your interviewers.

What will you need during the interview?

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  • If you provided your CV, have a copy of it at your fingertips. If you provided written recommendations, commendations and awards, have those to hand as well. You might believe you know all of this already, but when you are nervous or misremembering, you want to avoid talking about something different to the prospective employer.
  • Have a notebook and at least two pens at the ready for note-taking; if you have nothing relevant to write, pretend to take notes, which will keep your hands occupied and create the appearance of interest and attention.
  • Keep a bottle of water or juice within arm's reach to stay hydrated, but always use a bottle to avoid accidental spills.
  • Using a handkerchief to wipe away any sweat, especially if things get too heated, is better than using the back of your hands or shirt sleeve. ideally when they're not looking.
  • Write notes you can place above or behind the monitor, to remind yourself of any of the key points above you are more likely to forget, such as, 'Keep Head-Up. Don't Fidget,' and 'Look Confident'.

During the interview

Back-up plan. Verify that the prospective employer has your contact details at the outset in the event you experience any technical or wi-fi issues during the online interview.

  • If possible, separately record your interview, which you can do on your smartphone, then ask a friend or family member to give you feedback about your presentation during the interview.
  • Rather than rush to answer every question immediately, take a moment to absorb and understand the question being asked, and ask for clarification when you need it, so you can give thoughtful, appropriate, relevant answers.
  • If you're stuck on a question, relax and keep your poise before you answer. Make a note! If you do not understand the question, always ask for clarification. If you understand but, for instance, the question asks about a skill you do not have, share a similar skill or analogous experience to show that you understand.
  • Highlighting your positives to show how you will add value to your prospective employer's business are expected, as is some exaggeration, but do not lie or exaggerate when discussing your capabilities. (Having said that, white...ish lies have helped me!)

Remaining calm, confident and composed at all times, and showcasing your positive personality traits will give you the best odds of receiving a virtual handshake and a job offer. If you do not get the first job, consider the interview practice for the next interview to give you more insight to make a great first impression.

After the Interview

Follow up within 24 hours of an interview with a 'thank-you email'. Say how much you enjoyed the interview and If you forgot something to say at the interview, now is the time to ask — and let them know that you're available for any further questions.

Wishing you the best!

© 2021 Tony Sky

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