During the previous normal, face-to-face interviews were the most common form of finding the perfect candidate for the job. However, online interviews have recently become a more popular form of interview as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. Granted, remote interviews are not a near concept as businesses have been using Skype and telephonic interviews for years but Zoom and comprehensive online assessments have joined the list. And each interview method has its own intricacies, so here are some pointers to help you ace your next interview.
The first step when preparing for an interview is doing some background research on the business, owner of OMK Personnel Kgotso Ahutu says. An added advantage is that you can refer to your notes during an online interview, unlike face-to-face interviews, he says. Not being physically present at your interview is an advantage because, “some people get cold feet during an interview so being in your comfort zone [helps] because you can be yourself”. HR Practitioner and Payroll Administrator, Nomsa Furumele, adds that, “the panel is smaller and most times it’s a one-on-one interview”, which eases the interviewee’s nerves.
Ahutu says being able to contact your interviewer to ask questions you forgot to ask during your interview is also an advantage. He additionally cautions against asking questions that are related to the status of your application process; instead he advises that you should ask about when to expect a response, processes following approval, assessments and the kind of tasks you’ll be expected to be carryout as soon as you begin. Considering the number of retrenchments that most industries have experienced, Furumele says you should remember to ask about job security, growth prospects and issues that will affect you as an employee (such as salary cuts and retrenchments).
At the same time, there are disadvantages to be mindful of. Furumele says one of them is that they are often time-bound, “so most times candidates don’t have enough time to ask all their questions”. Ahutu says another disadvantage is that candidates can’t observe or explore the work environment, see future colleagues and see if the location is suitable for them.
Ahutu and Furumele advise to follow this checklist when you set up for the interview:
- Functional gadget(s): Such as a laptop or desktop but not a cellphone, “because they sometimes experience connection issues or cut off”, Ahutu says. Ensure that your headphones or speakers are working.
- Background and lighting: Make sure that there are no distractions – such as noise, moving objects or traffic. The lighting should be good enough for the interviewer to see you. Sit on a comfortable chair and don’t lay down.
- Dress appropriately: Always look presentable – just because it’s an online interview it doesn’t mean you should neglect how you present yourself.
- Strong internet connection: Make sure that you have enough data/Wi-Fi bundles and that your connection is stable. Test your connection by calling your friends before the interview.
- Non-verbal cues: Maintain eye contact, provide straightforward and concise answers, maintain good posture and sit up straight.
Even though there are pros and cons to every type of online interview, there are some general basics to be mindful of:
- Research: You’ll be expected to know about the company and explain what you know in relation to your experience and the job you’re applying for – and you can refer to your notes if you need to refresh your memory. Prepare your questions before hand, so that you ask relevant questions to the relevant panellist.
- Go through your CV: Ahutu says people tend to forget what they’ve added in their CV and fail to provide relevant information, which he says is normal, especially in short-term work.
- Contact future colleagues: Company structures differ and getting in touch with people who report to your future manager will give you a better understanding of their work culture, responsibilities and resources they have.
Ahutu cautions against lying to stand a better chance of getting the job but he, instead, advises that candidates shouldn’t shy away from punting their strengths, experience and sharing a few tricks they can apply to aid the company’s operations. As convenient and cost-effective as online interviews might be, they still require some preparation to help you standout.
image credit: Andrew Neel