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Prepping For A Virtual Interview? Be Sure To Avoid These 6 Major Faux Pas

Salva Mubarak
Senior Features Writer

One of the major side effects of most work-related operations being conducted remotely is the slow obsolescence of in-person job interviews. Instead of conference rooms or cafés, you have to present yourself as a gainful employee to pixelated interviewers, while hoping to every God in the Universe for a stable Internet connection. “It’s a new world for both employers and job candidates because there are so many factors, like connectivity issues, background distractions, and inability to read the body language of the candidate in person, that comes into play with virtual interviews,” says Bangalore-based HR executive Sowmya Prabhakar.

But, tricky as it may be, it’s not entirely impossible to make a lasting impression on your potential new bosses over a Zoom call. Make a note of these common mistakes that most people make unknowingly during a virtual interview, and be sure you don’t make the same in the future.

No visual

Prabhakar states the importance of putting a face to the person you’re interviewing virtually. “Some candidates do not put the camera on while having a conversation,” she says, “ It doesn’t bode well when there’s no face to the conversation and that immediately sets a bad first impression.” She insists that this goes both ways as it’s important for the candidate to have a visual of who they’re talking to while giving the interview. Therefore, having your camera on, and in focus, is very important during the conversation.

Being distracted

With virtual interviews, there’s always a chance of external distractions, like doorbells, or people accidentally walking in while you’re giving the interview. “A lot of people don’t realise how distracted they appear in a virtual interview,” says Prabhakar, “So we’d see them constantly looking away, or checking their phones, there would be noises in the background. It’s not something that would immediately make us reject a candidate, but it also doesn’t work in their favour.”

Poor Internet connection

Another con for interviews over video calls is that you need to constantly ensure that your Internet connection is not lagging. “Not everyone has a stable Internet connection,” acknowledges Prabhakar, “There’s a good chance that the interview will keep getting interrupted by poor connectivity issues. This wastes a lot of time and results in a poor interview experience from both ends.” If you know you’re going to face Internet issues, she adds, then it’s always better to take care of it before the interview.

Sloppy dressing

“An interview is an interview, whether it’s in-person or over a video call,” states Prabhakar. This one goes without saying. You don’t have to be decked out in full formal gear, but day-old sweats and a band T-shirt with holes does not make for a good interview outfit. “If you’re in a too-relaxed environment, where you’re not even dressed properly, it does put us off,” she says, “You need to look presentable.”

Messy background

A messy and unorganised background can prove to be a distraction for the interviewer. Not to forget how it would reflect on you as a potential employee. “Typically when you’re doing an in-person interview, you’re doing it in a dedicated place like a conference room. This helps set the tone of the interview,” says Prabhakar, “Your background, including how chaotic it is or noisy, would directly affect the tone of your interview. Be mindful of your surroundings before sitting for the interview.”

Not being prepared

Prabhakar laments how the ease of virtual interviews has made candidates go lax when it comes to being prepared for the interview. Whether it’s because there is no disciplined procedure of getting ready and going to an external venue for the interview, or the knowledge that you can quickly look up the correct response because of the security of being behind a laptop screen, people are usually not as prepared as they should be for virtual interviews. “We expect you to do some background research,” she says, “When you’re being interviewed for a particular job, we’re also trying to gauge your understanding of the organisation other than just your job profile.”

Now that you know what to do, and what NOT to do, in your next interview, here’s hoping you ace the next one!