Conquering the Terrain of Virtual Interviews

2020. The year of COVID, lockdown and working from home.

No doubt this will be a memorable year for all us. For job hunters and recruiters, the terrain of looking for a job is now very different to pre-COVID days. No longer are we advising candidates to give a firm handshake on arrival (for obvious reasons now) or setting up a Microsoft Teams call to advise them of whether they should sit near the window to ‘take advantage of that lighting’ when the sun comes through during the interview. Virtual is now the new reality and so I thought I would give a few tips on how to conquer the terrain of virtual interviews.​


1. Test the meeting link before your interview


Please make sure you have the latest updated software available to open Zoom/Microsoft Teams/Skype with ease prior your interview. Given most people already now have Microsoft Teams or Zoom on their laptops, a lot of candidates assume the link will just work automatically. However, Zoom and Teams do have maintenance updates, so it is best to check your accessibility to the program prior to the interview. Nothing is more stressful than downloading a software update when your interview is starting in a minute. This leads me to the next point.

2. Do not be late!

Given that most candidates are now working from home, companies are now expecting candidates to be ready in the virtual lobby on the dot – and unfortunately you can’t use traffic or an accident as an excuse anymore! Make sure to set yourself reminders!

3. Make sure your technologies are working

In a world amidst a pandemic, using technologies to connect with each other is now paramount. Especially in interviews where both parties are not in the same room, you are really going to need that Bluetooth
headset to work.

For example, if you know your internet connection is going to be lagging, perhaps try finding an area where you can connect to the internet smoothly. One option may be to perhaps tether from your mobile network and buy
a dongle beforehand. This sets the tone of the interview. There is nothing more distracting than a freeze frame of your face during an interview where you are trying to convince your interviewers you are a capable individual.

Also, do a test run of your headphones and microphones to make sure the recipients can hear you and vice versa.

4. No distractions

Let your flatmates/family members know well ahead of time that you have an intervie

w at this set time so the household can keep noise distractions to a minimum. This will always mitigate your risk of someone interrupting your interview!

Also, if you are having your interview at home, I would also make sure there are no clutter and distracting décor in the background. Try to have a background as blank as possible. Yes, unfortunately those posters and photos hanging on your wall have got to go.

5. Dress to impress


I know this rule always ring true in an in-person interview but guess what – that is also true in a virtual interview. I understand the WFH situation has allowed people to dress very casual for a usual day of work now but for an interview, companies are still expecting candidates to make an effort. A shirt and tie are still expected for most interviews. If you are unsure of the dress code expectations, better to overdress than to underdress!

​6. Smile – you are on camera

Body language is so important in a virtual interview. Make sure you sit up straight and smile when you are there. Some hand gestures are also fine.

Lighting matters! Please make sure your camera is in a well-lit room and the camera is positioned onto your face so the interviewers can see you clearly. This helps the interviewer with getting the best impression of you.

7. Have a Plan B

However, even if you follow all these steps, sometimes things might still go wrong. We are in 2020 after all. Therefore, have a backup plan for yourself.

Maybe have the Zoom or Microsoft Teams app installed on your phone so you can use it as an alternative way to connect with the interviewers if the laptop suddenly stops working. If you have their phone numbers, perhaps do a quick phone interview instead. How you respond to emergency situations can show interviewers how you can adapt in the workplace.​

As the saying goes, opportunity comes to those who are prepared. If you are looking for more interview preparation tips and guidance or seeking more information about the actuarial market and actuarial opportunities, feel free to reach out to myself or to any other SKL consultants.

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