The Comprehensive Guide to Acing Digital Interviews
Digital interviews (or online/virtual interviews) weren’t exactly an alien concept before the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down. Depending upon particular circumstances (such as the candidate and employer being located miles apart), various companies had already been utilizing these options in some way, shape, or form. However, the in-person interview was still the largely preferred mode of candidate assessment.
That changed with the onset of the novel coronavirus. As the world started shutting down and an even bigger portion of our lives moved online, face-to-face interviews gave way to virtual/digital ones. Organizations were quick to come to terms with the sudden change in work dynamics and adopted technological solutions to ensure operational efficiency.
The Growing “Digital Hiring” Phenomenon
Back in 2015, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) carried out a survey of employers utilizing digital tools for hiring purposes. About 75% of the respondents said that they make use of video communication at some stage in the process. Fast-forward to 2020, and the use of video conferencing software (Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Google Meet, etc.) has become crucial to employers’ recruitment practices.
According to a 2015 survey by SHRM: 75% of the respondents said that they make use of video communication at some stage in the process
In 2020, it has become crucial to employers’ recruitment practices.
In another SHRM survey earlier this summer, around 50% of employers responded that adopting these tools helped them reach a more diverse talent pool. It also provided a cost-effective method for screening prospective hires. With remote working set to be in effect for the foreseeable future, digital hiring will surely be the way to go.
What Constitutes a Digital/Virtual/Online/Video Interview?
While these terms may be used interchangeably, there are subtle differences between them. A video interview is a digital/online interview which can include you interacting with an employer based at a different location or just you recording responses on camera to be assessed later.
It’s this second type which tends to intrigue and stump job seekers at the same time. For one thing, you aren’t communicating directly with the interviewer(s). A set of questions is provided and your responses are recorded. Typically, you are given a few minutes to read a question and contemplate your answer. After that, you have another couple of minutes to get your reply on camera.
Some companies do it in real-time. Others give you a specific timeframe (anything from 2 days to 1 week) to complete the recording of answers on your own and send it over. During a real-time interview, some organizations also provide you an opportunity to retake the whole thing in case you mess up. This can be a single redo or unlimited tries, depending on a particular employer.
Challenge for Job Seekers
The advent of digital hiring has brought new challenges for job seekers. As a candidate, you must surely be wondering about the following things.
- How to prepare for a digital interview?
- How to make the right impression knowing that you’ll probably be staring at yourself (in the camera) instead of at the interviewer(s)?
- How to dress for such an assessment?
- What digital tools you’re going to need to make the process go seamlessly?
It’s important that applicants adapt to this brave new world of recruitment. Digital interviews are expected to remain in vogue even after offices reopen. Besides, interview prepping basics remain the same.
You still have to respond to questions about your ability, qualifications, skills, and experiences. Some aspects of a traditional face-to-face interview do get eliminated in the digital version; like the chance to ask the interviewer(s) some questions. However, like always, your answers will convince an employer of your suitability.
In a nutshell, virtual interviews are no rocket science. You should go about preparing for them in the normal way. Just practice delivery using the right technological tools and you’ll be fine.
What Do Recruiters Expect from a Digital Interview?
Employers aren’t looking to put you through the mill at this stage. They know that a lot of applicants are novices at these types of interviews. As a result, some awkwardness is expected. Therefore, organizations are likely to stick to conventional questions that usually make up the first-round evaluation. We’ve all answered the following queries multiple times during our careers.
- Tell me/us about yourself.
- Why do you want to work here?
- What do you know about this company?
- Why do you think you’ll be a good fit?
- What are your major strengths and weaknesses?
As always, the purpose of these questions is to get to know the candidate better. So, make sure that your answers clearly highlight your suitability for the job.
Digital Interview Preparation Tips
The following tips will help you ace any digital interview.
The following tips will help you ace any digital interview.
Test Your Equipment
Ensure Adequate Lighting
Choose a Neutral Background
Dress for Success
Practice Delivering Your Answers Into a Camera
- Test Your Equipment
This seems like stating the obvious but a surprisingly large number of people tend to overlook this simple thing. You really don’t want connectivity issues or problems with your camera keep you from landing that job you’re after.
Inspect your network connection. Which place in the home has the strongest signal? If that’s not your own room, then talk to your family/housemates. Let them know beforehand that you need a particular space for an interview on a specific date and time.
Next, see to it that your microphone and camera are in good working order. If there are issues like grainy visuals, then consider getting a mini webcam that has a built-in microphone. Run all these checks again on the big day.
Being tech-savvy is one of the most attractive traits that employers are after these days. So, if you’re fumbling around with your audio or experimenting with camera angles during a call, then that is likely to put the interviewer(s) off.
- Eliminate Distractions
If you’re in your room, shut the door or perhaps lock it to ensure that no one comes in for the length of the interview. Put your phone on silent (unless you’re connected to the interview call with it) because you just never know when it might ring or beep.
Furthermore, it’s always better to close other windows/tabs and silence all pop-ups on your laptop. If not, you run the risk of losing your train of thought while answering a question. Again, that won’t go down well with the employer when they evaluate your responses.
- Ensure Adequate Lighting
Getting the lighting right for a camera, especially in a home environment, can be tricky. However, don’t sweat too much over it. Just make sure there’s enough light around so that it doesn’t look like you’re hiding in the dark.
Don’t overdo it because too much lighting will cause glare on your eyeglasses if you wear them. Use natural light as much as possible and eliminate backlighting such as that from a window or bulb directly behind you.
- Choose a Neutral Background
Pay close attention to your background. A bedroom with an unmade bed, a cluttered living room table, or a disorganized home office leaves a very bad impression. You’re essentially telling an employer that you’re unprofessional and even uninterested in the position. They may even find the mess distracting.
The safest bet is going with a blank background. But, it shouldn’t clash with your shirt. Having a wall behind you works fine but avoid sitting up against it. That way, you won’t flatten your shot by blending into the backdrop.
- Dress for Success
You could try dressing up the way you normally would for an in-person interview. This enables candidates to focus and get in the zone. If you aren’t one of these people, then any form of business casual clothing is fine. Just avoid bright patterns or funky designs because they can also become distracting for the interviewer(s).
- Practice Delivering Your Answers Into a Camera
Tools like Zoom enable you to record meetings. Use this to practice your responses and improve delivery of all potential answers. Other than the usual questions regarding skills, qualifications, strengths, and weaknesses, behavioral queries are common these days.
For instance, you might be asked to narrate a story about a time you successfully solved a problem or led your team to achieve established objectives. Think about how you’ll respond to such questions in a clear and succinct manner. Avoid rambling on for several minutes every time. If you do, then the interviewer(s) would start to lose interest in what you have to say.
Going for a digital interview can certainly seem daunting. You may feel overwhelmed and bogged down. However, we hope that won’t be the case once you’ve gone through this piece. There are certainly challenges associated with virtual interviews.
But, at the end of the day, they aren’t that different from in-person assessments. All you need is a bit of preparation and practice with the needed technological tools. If you have that covered, then there’s no reason for you not to nail a digital interview.