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How to Prepare for a Virtual Job Interview

By |November 30, 2020

If we’ve learned one thing during COVID-19, it’s that it’s not that hard to maintain already-established relationships virtually. But what about establishing brand-new relationships in virtual environments? In short, it’s a much bigger challenge.

Here’s a vignette to illustrate: The Black Swan Group recently hired a great asset to the team. When I met him virtually, I thought he was an average, quiet guy—maybe 5’8’’ and 200 pounds. But when I saw him in person for the first time, my whole perception changed. Here’s a guy who’s a giant—maybe 6’4’’ and 295 pounds. He’s also got a great physical demeanor and always has a warm physical expression and a pleasant look on his face. When you’re around him, you feel safer because of his size and the energy he exudes naturally.

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None of these characteristics came across during our virtual interviews—which means they won’t come across in your virtual job interviews naturally, either. When you know that the energy of your personality won’t come across virtually, you need to find other ways to exude that energy to increase your chances of getting an offer. With that in mind, here are three ways you can prepare for an interview that’s conducted virtually.

1. Start with an Accusation Audit™

Nobody really likes doing interviews. Now, couple that with the idea of what it’s like to be a recruiter during the pandemic, hopping from one Zoom call to the next and dealing with all of the associated technical difficulties—like faulty connections, poor lighting, and bad sound.

When you start a virtual interview, launch into an Accusation Audit (AATM) to set the stage and address the negative sentiments likely harbored by the person on the other side of the screen. Kick things off with something like this: I’m sure you weren’t exactly looking forward to conducting yet another interview on Zoom, and I imagine you’ve got better things to do with your time instead of figuring out who the next person on your team will be.

The interviewer will appreciate that you are able to recognize what the interview process is like for them, which feeds into your likability. Regardless of your experience or how much money you might want, the fact that you demonstrate that you understand the process you’re going through makes you a viable candidate.

When possible, try to incorporate elements of your personality into your AA. If you’re a humorous person, inject humor. If you’re a serious person, be serious.

2. Use Video Emails

One way you can convey your personality during the virtual interview process is by using video emails. If you’re not familiar, it’s a new trend in which people are recording videos of themselves talking and sending them as attachments or links over email instead of writing a regular email filled with text.

Personally, I think this is a tremendous tool. If you’re interviewing for a job, it’s a great way to give off some of your energy and essence ahead of time.

Think about your favorite movie star—the one you’d like to have a drink with. Odds are you’ve never met this person, yet you think you understand what they’re like in real life. Tap into this same emotional element during the interview process by using video emails to thank the company for the opportunity, introduce yourself while showcasing some of your personality, and explain why you’re interested in the gig.

When the interview is over, repeat the process. Thank the interviewer for their time and express your understanding that they are under pressure and have a tough decision to make.

3. Dress the Part

Chances are you’ve heard the old adage that tells us to dress for where and who we want to be. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to wear a suit and tie or pantsuit every time you interview. But wherever you’re interviewing, you definitely want to be presentable, clean, and fresh—and dressed for what you want.

Research the company before figuring out what to wear. If it’s a tech startup where everyone wears T-shirts and jeans, you don’t want to show up to an interview wearing a really nice suit.

My advice is to wear what makes you feel like yourself while considering the company culture and what fits in with it. If you end up not getting hired because of that, it’s probably not the right job for you.

Ready to Ace Your Virtual Interview?

At the end of the day, it’s all about empathy—or, more specifically, Tactical Empathy™.  By showing the person on the other side of the screen that you truly understand their perspective, you go a long way toward building rapport.

Now that you understand how to prepare for an interview that’s virtual, it’s time to continue your learning with the next piece of the puzzle: how to negotiate your next salary.

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