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Mistakes to avoid in your virtual interview

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Published: 6 May 2021

Person in an online interview

COVID-19 has changed a lot about the way we live our lives over the past year and job interviews are no exception.

Before the pandemic, it was uncommon, but not unheard of, for companies to do this stage of the application process online.

But by April last year around 86% of companies were already conducting job interviews entirely online and that number is only likely to go up.

Which means you need to prepare for it as much as you would for a face-to-face interview.

It’s likely the format and questions will be the same as in the past. You’ll need to impress the interviewers if you want to land the role.

But there are certain things you need to be especially aware of now you’re interviewing over video chat.

1) Don’t ignore mistakes

We all make them, it’s completely natural and your interviewers will know that.

But pretending you didn’t make a mistake is something hiring teams are finding is more common with online interviews.

Everyone will be staring at the screen, looking directly at you and paying attention.

So they’ll notice a mistake and might find it awkward if you don’t highlight it – as if you haven’t noticed it yourself.

For example, if your audio doesn’t work, your pet walks across the screen or your child comes in the room, it’s far better to point it out than hope the interviewer didn’t notice.

Show you can relax and role with difficult situations by laughing it off.

2) Have a backup plan

Acknowledging mistakes is one thing but having an alternative if things go wrong is even better.

Bring an extra set of headphones in case your ones don’t work on the day, consider buying a separate microphone for your computer, have an extra charging cable to prevent unexpected battery loss.

A common concern is a poor internet connection. Most mobile phones can create a Wi-Fi hotspot your computer can log in to.

Google your phone (e.g. Android, Apple etc) and ‘Hotspot’ and you’ll find easy to follow guidance from several sources.

But be sure to practice before the actual interview.

Your interviewers will be understanding with technology issues, but treat this like an opportunity to show them how prepared you can be – and how important the job is to you.

3) Engage with your audience

Interviewing can be tricky at the best of times. You must maintain your interviewers' interest throughout.

That can be even more difficult when they’re distracted by the busy world of remote working.

Make sure you have some small talk with them, ask them how they are, smile and maintain eye contact.

One trick for doing that over video calls is to look at your camera. To your audience is will appear as though you’re looking directly at them.

Also, make sure you’ve turned off all distractions yourself. Don’t let an email notification pop-up on your screen and draw your attention from the interview.

4) Use the mute button

A lot of video chat programmes only allow one person at a time to talk, cutting off everyone else.

This can be a problem if there’s background noise on your end which disrupts them while they’re talking.

Even if the platform you’re using does allow multiple people to speak at once, unnecessary noise is a distraction you should avoid.

Do this by muting yourself unless speaking – look up the programme you're using if you’re not sure how to do this.

It’s completely possible for you to be as engaging in a virtual interview as you would be in person.

Don’t forget, everyone else going for the role is in the same position as you, so just follow the advice above and you’ll be in with a good chance of landing that dream job.

The University of Sunderland in London’s Careers and Employability office is here to help you get ready for life after graduation.

To have a one-to-one chat with them, book a meeting through Compass.

Alternatively, email out more by following #WeAreSunLon on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.