How to Prepare for an Online Interview: Insider Tips from a People & Culture Professional
We sat down virtually with Artscape’s People and Culture Business Partner, Madhavi Kulkarni, who gave us insider tips on how to ace online interviews. We discuss the setup, lighting, how to tackle those pesky nerves and much more below.
Tips on Setting Up for an Online Interview
Where to look?
When you sign in, turn off self-view. You don’t need to look at yourself, just the panel, and it reduces one additional box on your screen. Look straight at the camera if you can (although this is very difficult) or look at the top frame of your laptop.
Backgrounds – Is it appropriate to have an outer space or safari background for my interview?
I do not recommend zoom backgrounds. When you move, the background causes a distortion and may impact voice and video quality.
What to do when you have a poor internet signal at home
If you notice a certain time of day where you have a poor internet signal, flag this right at the start of the interview and come up with a plan with the panelists if the internet does cut out such as signing back in right away or turning off your video.
Keep a glass of water handy. Chances are you will get a dry throat so stay hydrated during and before. Don’t ever drink with the bottom of the glass to the camera, turn your head so that your face is still visible.
Have ample lighting during the interview. I recommend turning on the flashlight of your mobile so that it adds to the light on your face (especially if there is a light behind you casting a shadow on your face).
Tips for During the Interview
Have a paper and pen ready
For longer interview questions, write them down so you don’t forget and let the panelists know that you are doing so. This means that you are paying attention to all aspects of the question.
It’s ok to tell panel members that you need more clarity or that you don’t understand the question. If you are still unsure after answering, you can ask the panelists if you answered correctly and if they need you to elaborate on your answer.
Bring good questions to the interview
There will always be an opportunity to ask questions during your interview. Bring three very sensible questions about the organization. Ask questions related to the organization’s strategic plan, recent and past media releases, questions about diversity and inclusion, outreach in the communities, how does the organization identify sales targets, etc. Coming prepared with good questions shows that you have done your research about the organization and that you are serious about your interest in the position.
If there is an interview where homework is involved, ask relevant questions such as how much time do you have to present, what format do they prefer, how many pages should your presentation be, what mode of presentation works, etc. This shows that you’re interested. Just before your presentation, ask if everyone has a copy (don’t forget your basic manners during an interview!).
Keep an eye on the fonts and colours that you use. Keep it standard, basic and accessible to all. Basic fonts include Calibri and Arial, 10-11 font size, black font on white page. Keep it basic even if the role you are presenting for is in marketing or social media.
Dealing with Nerves
Unfortunately if you’re nervous it’s much more obvious on screen than in person. The trick is to centre yourself. Here are a few tips on how to do that in the moment: hold something in your hand such as pen to help with fidgeting, take your eyes off the screen (to the top of your laptop or above the laptop), take deep breaths and in moments of intense nervousness, you can turn your video on and off stating internet issues to re-centre yourself.
Tips for Post-Interview
Remember your manners!
Always send a thank you to the panel after the interview. This is a great way to express your continued interest in the role and it makes you stick in the panel members’ mind.
If you receive a rejection email, thank them for the opportunity and ask for feedback as to why you didn’t make the cut. Use that feedback to build into your learnings. Keep on the lookout for future opportunities at the organization and don’t hesitate to reach out to the person who interviewed you about current opportunities that are of interest to you.
And don’t forget the main thing, regardless of online or in-person interviews, is to do your research on the organization. When you apply you should be interested in the role and it should appeal to you. If there is a long gap between when you applied and when your interview is scheduled, refresh your research from the organization’s strategic plan and recent media releases to stay up-to-date on the organization.
Good luck on the job hunt!