There’s a visible shift happening in the job market globally and in Canada: many organizations have moved to a remote or hybrid model. Previously, a majority of job interviews were in-person. More companies are now leveraging technology and video conferencing apps like Zoom and Google Meet to interview and onboard candidates virtually.
If you’re planning to move to Canada as a permanent resident (PR), this shift in the job market may work in your favour. You can start applying to jobs in Canada and interview while you’re still in your home country and get a headstart on your job search journey. Do consider time zone differences when scheduling time for interviews from your home country.
What is a virtual job interview?
A virtual (or a video) job interview leverages video technology to allow the discussion to take place with the interviewee and the interviewer connecting remotely. It is similar to a phone interview; the only difference is that you can also see one another on-screen.
There are a few types of virtual interviews:
- In-office video interviews: These take place at a potential employer’s office and may happen if you’re interviewing with a hiring manager or team member based in another location.
- Pre-recorded video interviews: This interview format usually requires you to record answers to questions that appear on the screen or that may have been provided over email. At the end of the recording, you can review your video and submit it. Often, there is a time limit for responses, and you may have more than one chance to record your answer.
- Remote video interviews: These interviews take place outside the potential employer’s office. You could be interviewing from your own home or public spaces like a hotel or a coffee shop.
In this article, we will be focusing on remote video interviews. We will outline what to expect with this type of interview and share some tips to help you prepare for one, so you can put your best foot forward and set yourself up for success!
How to prepare for your virtual interview
1. Test your technology
There are a few basic things that need to be set up and functioning for you to participate in a virtual interview: a phone with good reception or a computer with a webcam and microphone, necessary software to stream the video call, and strong internet connectivity. Be sure to test your technology prior to the interview and fix any issues so you can have a smooth audio/video call.
- Ask the recruiter or the interviewer for a phone number to reach them if you experience technical difficulties.
- Check your connectivity an hour or 30 minutes before your scheduled interview time. If there’s an issue, inform the interviewer or recruiter as soon as possible.
- Do practice runs with friends and family and ask them for feedback on your voice and appearance.
Prepare your computer by closing all extra windows and tabs. If you have a portfolio or work samples to show via screen share during your interview, make sure that it’s ready in an easy-to-access, but minimized, window.
2. Check the environment
Choose a quiet, tidy, and well-lit place for your virtual interview. Ensure the lighting is not too bright or too dark. Also, look for any glare on the computer screen. To avoid distraction, turn off your television, music devices, and any voice-controlled home devices. If there’s audible traffic noise in your residence, closing the windows might help muffle the sound.
You may also want to lock the door or let others in your residence know that you can’t be disturbed until the interview is done. If you experience background noise or if someone enters the room unexpectedly, apologize to the interviewer, ask for a few moments, mute your microphone and turn off your camera, and then step away to deal with the interruption.
Remember to set your phone on silent and have a notepad and pen/pencil handy to take notes. It’s a good idea to keep a glass or a bottle of water with you during the interview. Don’t sit too far or too close to the computer: to appear well proportioned on-screen, make sure there’s a bit of empty space on the screen above your head and check that your shoulders and upper chest are visible.
3. Be prepared with interview-basics
You should prepare for a virtual interview just as you would for an in-person interview. From analyzing the job description to conducting thorough company research, preparing your elevator pitch, and practising responses to commonly-asked interview questions, all aspects are equally important. Don’t try to look up answers on the internet during the interview; the sound of clicking and typing is easily transmitted through a video call. You want to appear focused and well-prepared.
Tip: Don’t memorize answers to questions. Instead, use post-it notes to jot down key points and stick them on your computer so you can easily refer to them during the interview.
Research your interviewer’s background and have a few topics handy for small-talk. It will help settle your nerves about the situation while also serving as a good way for the interviewer to remember you based on a story or a common interest you shared.
4. Be mindful of your body language
Non-verbal communication is important in any conversation. At in-person interviews, you shake hands with the interviewer at the beginning and the end of the discussion. It’s an important body language cue that helps you establish the relationship.
In virtual interviews, you can exude confidence by sitting up straight, smiling, and having your camera set at eye-level. A virtual setup can make it difficult for the interviewer to get a sense of your enthusiasm. So be sure to be expressive by smiling or nodding during the interview. Avoid fidgeting or letting your gaze drift away from the device.
Tip: Look at your camera while speaking and not at the image of the interviewer on-screen. When you do this, your eyes are more likely to align with the interviewer’s eyes on the other end. When you’re listening, you can look back at the screen.
5. Dress professionally
For a video interview, dress as you would for an in-person interview. Professional attire shows that you are serious about the position on offer. Avoid outfits with bright colours and patterns. If you wear glasses, adjust the lighting in the room to reduce glare from your lenses.
In recent times, an increasing number of companies are adopting virtual interviews as part of their hiring process. Remember, acing an interview, both virtual and in-person, is all about preparing well and having a confident demeanour. Treating your virtual interview like a real conversation will help you build a strong connection and rapport with the interviewer, thus leading you a step closer to the job you desire.