What to Expect on a Virtual Job Interview

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Dear WAHFAQ,

After applying to several companies for work at home jobs, I finally got my first virtual interview! Is there anything special I should plan for? What should I expect?

Virtual interviews are not that different from regular in-person interviews, other than they’re conducted remotely via phone, Facetime, or Skype. Because you won’t have in-person interaction with your potential employer there are a few things to keep in mind for a successful virtual interview:

Set aside time in a quiet environment. It should go without saying that you should make sure your dogs and cats and kids and other distractions are out of sight and hearing range. If you’re trying to get a work at home job and it seems like you live in a disorganized, chaotic zoo, you’re not likely to get hired.

Test your connection. Check and double check any software you’re not familiar with, and make sure your Internet connection is rock-solid. If you get spotty reception, try to use a land-line instead of cell phone.

Make sure you’re dressed professionally. If your interview is over Skype or Facetime or any other video-conferencing platform, make sure you look the part. I’ve seen outtakes of interviews where someone was wearing a dress-shirt and tie, but it was revealed that he was in boxer-briefs when his dog came running into the room and the applicant had to stand up to grab him. Full interview clothing, folks…head to toe.

Make sure you act professionally. Again, a virtual interview is very similar to an in-person interview. Don’t let your home environment relax you into being your casual self. It’s never a good idea to swear, drink beer, eat food, or smoke (cigarettes or otherwise) during the interview. Yeah, you’d be surprised at what people do!

Be prepared to give a tour of your workspace. Some employers will want to see the equipment you have, or ask you to share your screen to see what programs you use. It’s best to clear your browser history (in case they want you to go online) and not have a lot of random icons (or sexy pics!) cluttering your computer screen. Make sure your workspace, both online and physical, looks professional.

Be prepared to be tested. People lie on their resumes. Since you can find out any kind of information with a quick search, some job applicants figure they can fake it ‘til they make it, and state that they know how to use software that they really have only heard of. Your potential employer may ask you to share your screen and ask you to complete certain tasks during the interview process.

Maintain eye contact. If you’re not used to using Skype or Facetime, it can be a little disorienting because you’re going to want to look at the interviewer’s face, which usually is in the lower right corner of your screen. But, when you do that, you’re not looking at the camera, and the interviewer can’t see your eyes, which, even if subconsciously, discourages connection.

You can overcome this awkwardness by positioning the interviewer’s face (the box you see them in) right under your computer camera lens…in the top center of the screen. Then, just think of your camera lens as their eyes. You’ll still be able to make quick glances down to their face, but it won’t be as obvious as looking in the lower corner of your screen. Practice a bit with friends, and you’ll definitely notice the difference that slight adjustment makes!

Good luck on the interview!

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