Published on December 18th, 2020
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a shift in the hiring process of most businesses. A Gartner survey in April 2020 found that 86% of interviews are now virtual.
This means that the interview preparation and experience has changed for candidates. The advice that was relevant in previous years is no longer as accurate as it once was.
The interview types have remained largely the same with consulting firms still using case interviews, investment banks still asking technical questions and cultural fit questions being the same but the platform and environment has changed.
Candidates are now interviewing from their living room rather than travelling to the company office. This change in environment has caused good candidates to perform badly in interviews due to poor pre-interview preparation and not adapting their style to the virtual interview format.
As with in-person interviews, candidates that prepare effectively for virtual interviews perform better.
Many candidates are treating virtual interviews differently and doing less research on the company, less drafting of model answers and less technical question revision.
Inadequate preparation is easy to detect on virtual interviews because there is less opportunity to build rapport with interviewers and impress with interpersonal skills.
When preparing for a virtual interview you still need to do the fundamental research and preparation that you would for an in-person interview.
Knowing what differentiates the company from its competitors, what services they provide and any recent news are all good things to have in mind for the interview. You also want to prepare answers for the usual questions around your motivation and experience such as:
- Why do you want to work here?
- Why do you think you would be good for the role?
- Tell me about a time you overcame a challenge
- Tell me about a time when you worked effectively in a team
Two new factors that need to be considered in the interview preparation is location and equipment.
A bad location in your house can create a bad first impression. You need a location that is well lit, preferably with natural light by a window, and with little distractions around you such as posters on the wall or in front of the television. A location with a neutral background allows the interviewer to focus on you and not the items around you.
Equipment is important because it can be detrimental to the success of the interview. If your computer crashes or WiFi drops mid-interview then you are reliant on the company taking the time to reschedule the interview.
If they are interviewing a large number of candidates then it is unlikely they will be willing to do so. To make sure your interview runs smoothly you can take a number of steps to test your equipment and reduce the risk of problems:
- Have a practice video call with a friend or family member on the platform you will use for the interview (e.g. Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Zoom etc.) – each platform is slightly different and some work best with downloaded applications rather than in an internet web browser
- Make sure your laptop is plugged in during the meeting – a flat battery is preventable and not something you want to happen during the meeting
- Turn off any other devices using your WiFi during the interview – other devices sharing your WiFi will be taking up bandwidth and reduce the quality of your signal. You can check your internet speed at fast.com (1Mbps is good enough for a video call)
During the meeting, focus on the answers you give and not trying to engage with the interviewer via eye contact or body language.
They are not in a position to judge your interpersonal skills as well as they would in an in-person interview and therefore more emphasis is placed on the answers you give. Ensuring you are relaxed but well presented (not slouching etc.) is enough.
Finally, adjusting your communication skills is a great way to ensure a good dialogue with the interviewer. Taking the time to clearly pause at the end of your sentences and allow them to respond avoids talking over each other.
Similarly wait until the interviewer has finished what they want to say before beginning your own answer. A slight delay in response is beneficial and maintains the conversation. This is especially important if you do have a poor internet connection.
Thorough preparation will prevent any unwanted interruptions during the interview and ensure you give a good account of yourself giving you the best chance of passing the interview.