The outbreak of Covid-19 has made virtual interviews the norm since 2020; now both employers and job seekers are learning to adapt to this new way of employment.
As a job seeker actively searching for your next role, you may need to be ready for an interview soon. So how can you prepare for a virtual interview? Is there anything you need to be mindful of that you wouldn’t normally worry too much about for an in-person interview?
At Carrot Recruitment, our consultants are all experts in helping their candidates present themselves in the best way during an interview – whether that’s in person or virtually - and have now collected together a useful list of tips to get you ready for your next interview.
This new perspective of interviewing emerged when remote working became the norm back in March 2020. Even though the interviewer can only see you through a small screen, getting your surroundings in good order can make a significant difference to how you’re perceived. As with a face-to-face interview, you can bring along notes to a virtual one, but Healthcare Communications Team Lead, Louise Lavelle, spoke of the importance of avoiding becoming too distracted by them: “I’ve seen candidates being rejected because they put too many sticky notes around their computer screen, and it’s obvious to the interviewer when you constantly read from them.”
Background and lighting – These factors directly affect how you appear to your interviewer. Is there a clutter of clothes behind you? Or is the room so dim you can’t even see yourself properly? Before you log on to the interview, double check how you appear and what the other person would see in the frame. A good rule of thumb is to face a window, as opposed to having your back to one.
You may not think of this right away, but any preventable background noises are worth checking too. A baby crying, dogs barking, or even cats jumping on your desk could interrupt the interview. If possible, try to make arrangements to minimise these from happening during the interview, although your interviewer will be understanding if they do.
Technical issues – We all know too well how disruptive technical problems can be to a virtual meeting, and that’s the last thing you’d want during your interview. Therefore, arrange for a backup plan for if your equipment fails and make sure you have the telephone number of your interviewer in advance in case you need to continue the conversation on there.
Don’t be too comfortable in your comfort zone. Even in the comfort of your home, you can still create a feeling of attending a professional interview as a reminder to be at your best; a great tip from our Advertising and PR Consultant, Alice Smith, is to wear those slightly uncomfortable shoes you would wear for interviews.
Competency may be crucial to a candidate proceeding to the next stage of the recruitment process, but by no means will employers ignore the candidate’s appearance. This includes your outfit, how you carry yourself, and your mannerism.
Stay put – Our consultants have seen candidates being rejected for walking around during their virtual interview. You wouldn’t do that in a normal interview, so you should treat a video interview the same way.
Look professional – Senior Consultant Chris Newall says: “You should treat it as a normal interview and wear something smart.” Don’t let the casual home setting make you think you can relax about the dress code; a virtual interview is still a professional occasion where you may get your next dream job.
Body language matters - Most of us use some form of body language when we speak, and this may become even more prominent when we’re nervous. Practice in front of a mirror before your interview and keep your body language to an appropriate level.
Apart from the aspects above, employers also like to see how prepared the candidates are, as it could imply whether they appreciate this opportunity and are passionate about the role.
Pharma Sales Recruitment Consultant, Hannah Hall, says: “Make sure you fully understand everything regarding the role and the company.” Read through the job description carefully and think about how you can relate the responsibilities to your experience and skillset; even better if any of them matches your forte.
Do extensive research on the role and the company. Practice your answers using the STAR technique – discuss a specific situation, task, action and result. Competency-based questions are popular among employers as they are a good way to gauge whether a candidate is the correct fit for the role. Remember, the employer would want to know whether you can manage at least the majority of the responsibilities that fall under the person specification.
LinkedIn can be a helpful tool too. If you know who you’ll be meeting in the interview, look them up on LinkedIn. This networking platform makes it easy for you to find the details and background of any professional, so you won’t be meeting complete strangers like in the past.
Last but not least, if you do your research on the company by browsing through its website and social media channels, you'll have a solid understanding of them. Attend the interview with questions about the things that interest you; employers like to see this attribute in a candidate as it shows that they are genuinely interested in the company.
If you’d like to know more about the current health of the sector you work in within Pharma and the Life Sciences and what opportunities could be available, you’re in the position to consider a career move currently, or you’d simply like some advice on virtual interview techniques and what your future options might be, our experienced recruitment consultants are here to help in any way possible.