How Do I Stand Out In A Virtual Interview?

Remember the nerves that come before a job interview? How many times would you check your hair, tie, shoes, train timetable, Google maps, and then your hair again: all before leaving the house? What about the journey to the interview? Waiting in reception, reciting your notes in your head, and wondering who was going to come down the stairs? Shake hands? Probably. Hug? Definitely not.

Now add global pandemic to your list. Since the beginning of 2020, COVID has affected every industry, profession, and business in the world, and we are seeing the world evolve and adapt like never before.  Many employers are opting to meet candidates virtually, in video interviews and calls. Sort of a pre-face-to-face meeting.  While this ensures the safety of both candidate and employer, it definitely adds a new dynamic.  For instance, with face to face meetings, so many factors come into play, such as body language, full dress sense, mannerisms, comfortable eye contact, scent, mirroring and posture to name a few, all of which need a whole new approach in a virtual capacity.

We asked Managing Director/CEO of Rampling Clarke, Arron Rampling, what are his top tips for preparing for a virtual interview.

What do I wear to a virtual interview?

Great question! Firstly, it’s essential that you place as much importance in your appearance as you would for a face-to-face interview: as you are still on show, and first impressions go a long way.  We all joke about wearing casual clothes out of sight from the camera, but one quick movement or jolt of the camera could have your Darth Vader pyjamas on show to your potential employer.  Ensure that your interview outfit is smart, formal, and tidy. Have a shower, do your hair and make-up.  Your future employer will see that you’ve prepared and made the appropriate effort before meeting with them.

Where in my house should I have my virtual interview?

The right environment is also vital when having a virtual interview.  Your bookshelf might be your pride and joy, but it could be a distraction too.  We recommend a tidy, plain background for the call: an empty wall with minimal pictures is best.  If there is a door in the background of your call, be sure to shut it! Family members crossing the doorway with cups of tea, or handfuls of washing might distract you and your potential employer.  Ensure that you have good lighting also, so that you can be seen whilst on camera. Household distractions are understandable: since lockdown started most of us can say we’ve been there.  But try to minimize these as much as possible, by asking other people in the house to be quiet whilst you are busy.  Would you answer your phone in the middle of a face-to-face interview? Probably not.  So, maintain the same rules during your virtual interview.  Switching your camera off to attend to children, or worse, leaving it on whilst engaging in other conversation is bad practice and not something I would want any of my candidates to do in an interview.  Personally, I would feel inclined to stop our meeting all together – and only under an extreme circumstance would I offer a second chance.  Harsh but true! Pay attention, give your focus to your future employer and show your commitment to this interview.

How can I prepare for a virtual interview?

The same way you would for a face-to-face interview! Always prepare and educate yourself on company knowledge.  Prior to attending your interview, we recommend spending an hour or so looking at the company’s website.  Brush up on your knowledge of their: market, audience, revenue, and company ethos.  There is nothing worse than a poorly prepared candidate, and I’ve seen my fair share. Turning up to an interview without doing your research is arrogant – and for me, a MASSIVE NO.  Your CV and resume can get you through the door, but your approach to the interview can slam it in your face. One of the great things about a virtual interview, is that you can have your notes in front of you – just off camera.  Make the most of this! When you are prepared, it shows.  Your potential employer can tell straight away if a candidate is familiar with the company or brand and will be pleased with your commitment to this interview.  Know the role you’re applying for and the company which you’re applying to.

Any other top tips?

My best advice is to be yourself! No really. Virtual interviews are more laidback than face-to-face interviews because we all understand the limitations of this new way of working.  Be calm and collected, make good eye contact, and don’t talk over others.   Break the ice, with a comment about the “new-normal” way of working: “This is my first virtual interview!”, or “What do you think of this new interviewing style?”.  Address the elephant in the room! Because for once in our lives, we really are all in the same boat. If you have a portfolio of work that you would like to show in the interview, show initiative and ask to share your screen. Employers want to see the best of you, so use everything you have to sell yourself in the most effective way.
Familiarise yourself with ZOOM or Microsoft TEAMS, and always test your microphone, speakers and camera before joining a virtual meeting. 

Arron Rampling – Managing Director/CEO

Rampling Clarke are dedicated to preparing their candidates for working and gaining employment in the new world. To speak to Arron directly about virtual interviews, creating a stand-out CV, or about any part of the recruitment process, send your enquiry to Arron.

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