Q: Why are so many employers interviewing virtually, and how can I prepare for this?

A: Interviewing is just one of many job search aspects that has been greatly impacted by the pandemic. Some of the changes made to interviewing techniques and styles may be here to stay, long after the pandemic is over – whenever that may be!

Prior to the pandemic, virtual interviewing was conducted by some companies, but due to necessity, it became commonplace relatively quickly. Virtual interviewing is often conducted through platforms such as Zoom, Teams, and a host of others.

With the obvious benefit of keeping everyone safe and healthy during the pandemic, there are other reasons why this trend may become the norm.

Virtual interviewing is especially popular for initial interviews, with pre-screening occurring virtually and in-person interviews coming as a later step in the process, perhaps as a second or third interview. Virtual interviewing also allows employers the opportunity to interview more people within a day, as candidates will likely have greater availability for interviews if they do not have to travel to the job site.

Employers may prefer virtual interviews because they minimize the need to take copious notes while candidates are answering, as the interview can be recorded and viewed again at a later date. This allows more face-to-face interaction and rapport-building, as well as the opportunity to observe body language and non-verbal cues, from both sides of the table.

Many jobs became remote jobs through the pandemic, and numerous companies still offer work from home opportunities, potentially for the long-term. This means that candidates may live much farther from the work site than they normally would. Virtual interviews only make sense in these circumstances, and they allow employers to cast a wider net for qualified candidates.

In terms of preparing for virtual interviews, it’s essential that you practice using the platform the interviewer is using. You do not want to be scrambling to download software and learning how to use it on the day of the interview! Download some of the more common platforms and set up practice meetings with family and friends. Make sure you have a good understanding of the controls and options within the software so there is no guesswork on the big day.

It’s essential that you have a good quality webcam and microphone and that you practice using the audio effectively as well.

The way you dress for a virtual interview is important as well. Ensure that at least the top half of your body looks professional and well-groomed.

Pay attention to the background that is visible in your virtual calls. Is there a lot of clutter in the background? Will you be disturbed by pets, children, phones ringing, or other distractions? Can you find a quiet place in your home to conduct the interview? Having a clear background with minimal additional noise is ideal. Finding good lighting is important, too. If you can sit facing a window, you will have natural light on your face and this can be very flattering on camera.

Becoming comfortable with the idea of virtual interviewing may take some time, but we need to recognize that this may be the only option going forward for many employers, so it is best to become well-versed in this style of interviewing if you are job searching, and embrace the opportunities and benefits that it presents.

If you would like more information about virtual interviewing, or if you have any other questions related to job search, feel free to contact Emily at eberry@jhs-niagara.ca