Twelve months ago, if I were hiring a teacher, doing a virtual interview would have been the last thing on my mind during the hiring season. Few principals offered the option, and fewer candidates would have chosen it. One world pandemic later, we find ourselves in a world full of video calls, webinars, and chat rooms to accomplish the most fundamental part of our jobs.
Enter the virtual job interview. If you’re on the job hunt during this hiring season, you are likely going to have the option of doing a virtual job interview. It may even be required (especially for a first interview). If that is you, here are six great tips for nailing that next virtual job interview.
Before the Interview
Tip 1 – Know the Platform
A virtual interview is a general term for any interview that is not in-person and involves a meeting via some technology. Generally, the interviewer chooses the platform. Zoom and Google Meet are two prevalent virtual meeting platforms. The important thing is being familiar with the platform before the interview. To do this, be sure you have interacted with the program before your interview. Find out how you will interact with others during the call. Check out possible features like sharing attachments or screen sharing. These are just a few of the variables into which you need to look.
Tip 2 – Own the Setting
One benefit of a virtual job interview is that you get to be in control of your setting. In a traditional interview, the setting is chosen by the company or the supervisor in charge of hiring (generally, one that is comfortable for their team). Conversely, in a virtual interview, you get to be in control. This control offers some great benefits. Think about your background. It should not be blank, but it also should not be distracting. Think about your lighting. You do not need fancy equipment; just directly facing a well-lit window during your interview will provide ample light and will allow your interviewers to see you well. Don’t forget to dress to impress. Remember that you want your potential employer to have a mental image of you that is professional. A t-shirt will not give that desired image.
Tip 3 – Rehearse
Like any job interview, you should practice with sample questions. Be careful with this. The idea is not to guess the questions your interviewer will ask. You do not want prepared answers – you
will sound robotic and disingenuous. Instead, practice answering some traditional interview questions. If you can, use the platform you’ll be using for the interview with a friend or trusted colleague and have them give you feedback. Bonus tip: recording your answers and listening back to them is one of the best ways to hone speaking skills.
During and After the Interview
Tip 4 – Create your Space
Taking part in a virtual interview has its advantages. Namely, your interviewers have a relatively small rectangle of your setting. That means that you can create a cockpit of reference sheets, bulleted lists of info, and notes about your accomplishments. Whether you prefer printed information or multiple tabs in a browser, you will have the benefit of useful information right at your fingertips. Imagine getting to that part of the interview where they ask if you have questions, and you can reference an item directly from the school’s website or school improvement plan. Color your interviewers impressed.
Tip 5 – Interactions with Interviewers
Everyone knows that eye contact during an interview is essential. Somewhere between nervous glancing and awkward staring lives excellent eye contact and mastering; this can take an interview from mediocre to fantastic. Also, don’t forget about body language; some gestures and movements of the arms and head can be distracting on camera. Be sure to pay attention to this (especially when practicing). You want your web camera to be at eye level. Looking down on your computer screen is never a good look, and it can negatively impact how interviewers see you and your background. Stack up some books if you’re using a laptop so that the camera is at eye level. Trust me, this looks much better.
Tip 6 – Remember, An Interview is an Interview
Just because your interview is digital does not mean that you should not practice good professional behavior during and after the interview. Remember to use professional language, sit up straight, say thank you, and call interviewers by name. Always jot down each interviewer’s name so you can reference specifics from the interview when sending a thank you email.
Remember, a virtual job interview is not the scary thing it might once have been. What might have been an awkward experience before is rapidly becoming just the way we do things. Whether you interview is in-person or online, be sure to spend some time preparing for success, and you are very likely to find it.