- A major mistake candidates make on in-person and video interviews is failing to target a hiring organizations’ interests.
- Introverts can use their strengths to research an organization, and can practice their pitch on video while smiling into the camera.
- Even those who aren't seasoned streamers can benefit by rehearsing keyword-rich sound bites for video interviews.
A major mistake job candidates make on in-person and video interviews is failing to target hiring organizations’ interests. Interviewees often talk about how they could benefit by getting the job. Instead, zero in on your relevant experience, knowledge, and skills that could contribute to the organization.
Beforehand, learn about the organization and its people through internet searches and your professional network. Pick 10 keywords/concepts from the job posting that you believe are most important to the organization (e.g., areas of experience and knowledge; skills, including transferable ones)—and practice speaking in those terms. Once you’re on a virtual interview, speak (naturally!) in the language of the hiring organization’s keywords. Basic for in-person and video interviews alike? Yes. Often forgotten? Definitely.
What else can help you prepare for online interviews? Rehearsing on video with a trusted advisor? Check. Logging in early to test the tech? Check. Looking into the videocam and use vocal variety? Check. But wait, there’s more: When a human is at the other end, you can usually see each other from the shoulders up. But it may be hard to build rapport, without eye contact and other intangibles of sharing a physical space. Unless you’re a seasoned broadcaster or live streamer, you may be thrown off.
If you’re an introvert, you may feel at a particular disadvantage on video. Even if you’re well suited for a job, you may rather do it than sing your praises about doing it. You may also dislike being in the spotlight, coaxing partially formed thoughts from your mind to your mouth. So, use your quiet (and other) strengths, listening attentively to help you build rapport with the interviewer.
Introverts can especially benefit by resting up, preparing, and practicing to get ready. Rest up so your energy for interaction isn’t zapped. Prepare, because it will ease your mind to gather, research, and analyze information. It may help to prioritize your points and craft questions for the interviewer. Practice because it will prime you to speak at your best.
Let’s look at more virtual interview challenges and tips.
Challenge: Video interviews make you nervous. Your effectiveness at summarizing your assets into sound bites can make or break your prospects for an offer. So the thought of “selling yourself” to a stranger on video may make you anxious.
Tip: It’s common to have a running dialogue between your ears. Using the following self-talk tips before your interviews may sound strange, but research indicates they may shift the way you feel as well as boost your performance. First, reframe your fear into excitement. Second, speak to yourself in the second or third person. For example, say to yourself: “You’re excited to describe your relevant accomplishments.” Also, remember to breathe. Consciously. During the interview.
Challenge: You freeze up on video. It can be hard enough to “just be yourself” when interviewing in person. Knowing that a gatekeeper may evaluate a video recording of your every um may freeze you up. Looking at yourself as you speak can also add to your self-consciousness.
Tip: Put a sticky with a smiley face above your videocam as a reminder to smile. Ron Gutman, author of Smile: The Astonishing Powers of a Simple Act, claims: “One smile can generate the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 bars of chocolate.” I say, eat a piece of chocolate beforehand—and smile for extra insurance! You’re not naturally smiley? Me neither (as an introvert who often just grins internally). However, know the impact on others that an upturn of your lips and crinkle-twinkle in your eyes can have.
Challenge: You ramble when you’re anxious. Many candidates are wordy on interviews. Trying to impress the interviewer may shake your confidence, leading you to run on in long, snaking sentences.
Tip: Prepare crisp answers to common interview questions, weaving in those keywords—and practice out loud. Video record yourself; trim what you can. You may know the STAR (situation-task-action-result) method for structuring your answers. Or just briefly convey how you solved a relevant problem. It may help to provide one main point and ask: “Would you like to hear more detail about that?”
Challenge: No human interviewer! Some organizations conduct screening interviews in which you talk into a void, without human interaction. You may even be timed, without a “do-over” option. So, unless you get past that Wizard-of-Oz-ish gatekeeper, you may never reach a second round.
Tip: If possible, do a trial run on the organization’s online interview platform to video record yourself practicing. Do a playback to see what you can improve on.
Challenge: Too many others in your space! It can take time to find a private, quiet space with a neutral background.
Tip: Line up the space in advance. Fallback options might include your car or a room you reserve at a library. Doing so may be especially important if you’re an introvert, who may feel overstimulated by people drifting in and out of the space.
Challenge: Tech meltdowns. Technology issues can stress you out. It’s one thing when you’re among multiple colleagues whose Wi-Fi konks out at a Zoom meeting. It’s another when you’re interviewing for a job.
Tip: Log in early to test your audio and video. Adjust your real or virtual backdrop and lighting. Then, if your tech melts down, stay calm and say something like: “Excuse me briefly while I dial in.”
In summary, almost any job candidate can benefit by preparing and practicing answers to typical interview questions on video. For introverts, that’s especially useful because of their challenges speaking on the spot. Also, for everyone, an important part of preparing for a virtual interview is getting your virtual ducks in order beforehand to reduce the chances of the tech goblins commanding center stage. Just as in an in-person interview, aim to connect and share what matters to the hiring organization. Here’s to your virtual success.
© Copyright 2022 Nancy Ancowitz
Brooks, A. W. (2014). Get excited: Reappraising pre-performance anxiety as excitement. Retrieved February 13, 2022, from https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/xge-a0035325.pdf
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