Expert tips on how to prepare for that virtual job interview

Test your wireless connection and video-conferencing software several times before the interview.
Test your wireless connection and video-conferencing software several times before the interview.PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO

SINGAPORE - As work-from-home arrangements remain in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus, job seekers may find themselves attending virtual interviews for the first time.

Here are eight tips from human resource professionals on how to make the most of the video call.

TEST YOUR EQUIPMENT

Test your wireless connection and video-conferencing software several times before the interview, says Mr Grant Torrens, 38, regional director of recruitment agency Hays Singapore. Making a practice call with a friend or family member will allow you to check for sound and picture quality and get used to speaking into the microphone.

Before the interview, you should also do some research to familiarise yourself with functions that may come in useful, such as screen- or file-sharing.

PICK THE RIGHT SETTING

Choose somewhere quiet and away from distractions. Your backdrop does not have to be a white wall, but an ideal spot is one free of clutter so it is easy for your interviewer to focus on you.

"Think of some of your favourite YouTubers, for example," says Ms Deana Zafir, 26, content producer for recruitment agency BGC Group. "Most of them have neutral backgrounds that feature bits of a plant or a clean and organised bed."

A room with natural lighting is ideal, but placing a lamp with white light in front of you is a good substitute too.

DRESS PROFESSIONALLY

Virtual interviews are still a professional process, so you should dress as though you were headed for an in-office interview.

 
 

Ms Deana says: "The best way to decide on the right attire is to ask the hiring manager or recruiter about the dress code. If that seems too intimidating a question, try looking up the company on its social media to see how employees would dress on a normal office day."

She adds that collared shirts, blouses, light make-up and tidy hair usually suffice, but in an interview setting, it is always better to be overdressed than underdressed.

BE PUNCTUAL

Log in at least 10 minutes before the interview begins, says Ms Miya Toh, 30, principal consultant at recruitment firm Robert Walters. Not only is this a sign of respect, but it also allows you to get into the right headspace and make sure everything is set up correctly.

LET THE CONVERSATION FLOW

To avoid delays or interruptions, Mr Torrens also suggests waiting a moment to ensure your interviewer has finished the question before you begin answering.

Silence can also be more difficult when you are not in the same room, so if you are stuck on a question, ask for some time to gather your thoughts before answering.

DO NOT READ ANSWERS OFF THE SCREEN

Do not type out your responses as bullet points and refer to them during your interview as this is a "big no-no", says Ms Deana. Not only will it make you sound "robotic and inorganic", but your interviewers will also be able to tell. Prepare your responses and familiarise yourself with them beforehand instead.

STAY ENGAGED

Ms Toh says: "Most people tend to fidget more, with their eyes wandering off, when their interviewers are not in front of them.

 
 

"To make direct eye contact, look into your Web camera instead of your interviewer's face on the screen. You should also sit up straight, with your feet on the ground and arms on the desk or on your lap."

Ms Deana adds: "Try not to shake your leg or tap your pen as that will be picked up by the microphone even if it is off camera."

CLOSING STATEMENT

Conclude your interview by thanking your interviewer for his time and the opportunity.

Ms Toh suggests following up with a note of appreciation to reinforce why you are interested in the role and would be a good fit for the position and company.

Add a personal touch - like mentioning something you enjoyed discussing during the interview - to make a difference.