According to a 2011 Aberdeen Group study, two-way virtual interviews are the most common and preferred type of interview for connecting with remote candidates.How do you ace one of these two-way virtual interviews? For starters, you recognize that it is a real interview. All the same rules of being interviewed in person apply: know the company's background, prepare your answers for difficult questions about yourself. Here are 10 other tips to ensure that you make it through a virtual interview without a hitch:
Before the Interview
1. Download the Required Software for the InterviewLearn how to use it properly. Set up a professional user ID. Practice using the software with a friend to get an idea of how smooth the image and sound flow. Make sure your camera and microphone are working properly. Plan ahead for any difficulties with your internet connection.
2. Carefully Stage your Setting
Arrange your interview area by making sure your desk is cleared of unnecessary items. Be sure your background is clean and uncluttered. To ensure that the interviewer has a clear view of you on his end, check how the lighting will be during the time of day for which your interview is scheduled.
3. Get Rid of Any DistractionsTurn off your telephone notification sounds. Make certain your pets are in an area where they can't be seen or heard barking. Inform your family and friends that you are not to be disturbed for the period of time you are being interviewed.
4. Appearance CountsKeep in mind that how you look on camera carries the same weight as it would in an in-person interview. Dress appropriately—all the way down to your shoes. You never know when you'll have to get up for something and then caught on camera in your sweat pants.
5. Stand out from your Background
Make it easier for the interviewer to focus on you. A plain, neutral colored wall is best. Or, perhaps, a neat, organized bookshelf as a backdrop will work.
During the interview
6. Eliminate all Distractions for YourselfClose all your computer's browser windows, except one allowing you to refer back to the company's web site. It's good to have a copy of your resume in front of you, but don't keep referring to it during the interview. You should already be well-versed on its contents.
7. Don't Stare at the Interviewer on Your Screen
Look directly at the camera, which is the equivalent of looking the interviewer in the eye. If it's tempting to watch yourself in the small image on screen, turn that off. Smile warmly throughout the interview, as appropriate, so you don't appear rigid, with a deer-in-the-headlights gaze.
8. Resist the Urge to Fidget
Playing with your hair or jewelry is very distracting. It also signals a lack of confidence. Minimize body movements, such as shifting from side to side, knee shaking under your desk, or foot tapping. These can make small noises that get amplified through the microphone, and is disturbing to the interviewer.
9. Speak Clearly & Wait to Respond
And make sure that the interviewer has completely finished speaking before you respond. Be aware that online conversations can occasionally lag, and that will cause an interview to get out of sync. Practice eliminating subconscious noises, like “Um”, “Er”, and avoid empty phrases such as "You know?" and "And stuff."
10. Take Notes During the InterviewTaking notes during an interview is appropriate, but do so in pen so that you aren't clicking away on your keyboard. Continue to make as much “eye” contact as possible as you write.
Allow the Interviewer to Disconnect First
He may have last minute thoughts or questions, and if you terminate the conversation before he does you could miss the opportunity to add something critical. Also, you don't want to appear to be in a rush to end the interview. Finally, once you have ended the interview session, double-check to make sure you are actually disconnected before you go on with your daily activities.
This article was written by Pamela La Gioia, who has been a telecommuting researcher since 1993. She is the President of Telework Recruiting, Inc., a web site boasting over 2,000 companies that hire teleworkers. She writes on all aspects of telecommuting, and has been featured or quoted on CNNMoney, The Wall Street Journal, USA, and Today.