The current global pandemic has shifted everything online. We are now truly living in the “digital age,” with meetings, interviews, family calls, conferences, concerts, and everything else taking place online.

With this shift in how we interact, the way we look for work and conduct interviews has also shifted significantly. We can no longer meet with a handshake, break the ice over a cup of coffee, or be ‘wowed’ by a place of business. Things have changed, and we’re now making our own cup of tea or coffee, greeting each other with the standard “can you hear me?” greeting, and then getting down to business.

Rather than being intimidated by the prospect of meeting someone online (and possibly having your meeting interrupted by poor internet service, a howling pet, or a sniffling child), follow these simple guidelines and ace your interview:

Before you click the meeting link, make sure your internet connection is up and running.

As previously stated, avoid the typical start of an online call by sitting in the room in your house with the best connectivity. Accidents do occur, and as with all technology, things can be unpredictable. Don’t let the screen freezing or being cut off from the call disrupt your interview flow and confidence. “I recommend to all my clients that they close the tabs on their computer, restart their laptop, and update any software they need to before the interview,” says Katrin Mantay, one of our top recruitment coaches. A pre-interview sound and video quality check will help ensure that your internet connection is up to the task of handling a video interview.

Your background can say a thousand words.

Instead of sitting in front of a favourite family photo or displaying your latest macrame collection, choose a quiet background with no distractions for the interviewer. Choose a room with a door you can close to avoid people, pets, and unexpected noises. Natural light from behind you is not permitted. Sit with the light on your face to highlight your features and share your emotion and excitement.

Experiment with different locations in your home, such as using lampshades or windows to disperse light evenly on your face.

It’s all about making eye contact.

Focusing on your own face on video is a natural reaction to a video call. It’s also easy to have your laptop/computer/monitor at an awkward angle, causing your eye contact to be off. Katrin recommends placing your laptop on an ironing board so that you can easily adjust the height. “If your laptop’s camera is too low and you’re looking down into it, you risk appearing condescending. When the camera is too high and above your eye level, you can appear dismissive.”

Another thing to keep in mind is posture: make sure you’re sitting upright and not slouching in your chair or leaning over your desk. Look alert, interested, into the camera, and maintain your focus throughout.

Choose your outfit carefully.

Wear whatever you would have worn to your in-person interview on your Zoom / Skype / Google Hangout call. Investigate the culture of the organisation for which you are being interviewed and try to imitate the dress code.

According to Social Psychological and Personality Science research, wearing business attire and ‘dressing up’ can boost your confidence and abstract thinking.

Avoid the temptation to wear business attire on top, and stay comfortable out of the camera’s view!

Don’t go overboard with the notes.

When you’re being interviewed and you’re constantly looking down at your notes or reading from a’script,’ you sound unnatural, appear nervous, and don’t make eye contact with the interviewer.

Katrin recommends the following clever trick:

“Stick your notes near your camera on top of your screen, and write down three bullet points of specific achievements or past successes that you want to communicate.” Let the interviewer know if you want to take notes during the call.

Vigour and zeal

“People can come across flatter on video calls than they would in person, making them appear less excited about the opportunity,” Katrin says. It may be time to turn up the passion and energy to get the message across on camera. Add hand movements, head nods, and lots of smiles to show enthusiasm, even if it feels unnatural.

If you’re new to online interviews or phone calls, a helpful tip is to record yourself beforehand. Answer any typical interview questions and watch how your body language changes when the recording is played back.

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