Ace Your Online Interview With These 7 Tips
So, it's Friday! I'm at work, being productive and minding my business when @dadaben_ tags me on his latest Fred Donga video.
This was midday, so I decided to take a break and watch the video titled: How NOT to prepare for an online interview. Two seconds into the video and I'm laughing out loud and shaking my head. No! Just no! In the spirit of wanting to be helpful to all young professionals out there, here's what you need to do to ace an online interview.
An online interview is still an interview. The same rules for an in-person interview apply here. Take the time to learn about the organization. Visit the "about" section of their site. Read their "news and press release" pages. Learn more about their team, especially the executive leadership. Where possible, find out as much as you can about your interviewers (we are talking full stalker mode here).
During the interview, use what you've learnt about the company to your advantage. 'Pepper' your conversation with random facts about the company and its achievements. This signals to your interviewer that you've done your research and are enthusiastic about the company.
Practice your answers:
In addition to learning about the company, anticipate interview questions and practice your answers. For instance, a common question that you'll get asked at the start of the interview is "tell us about yourself".
Great answer: My name is Lagbaja, I am a Communications professional with X years experience in social media marketing. Some recent projects I've worked on include the "More Zobo Less Fanta" campaign and #KeepTheChangeBruh Chronicles. I love social media planning, email marketing and content writing and I look forward to bringing these skills and my expertise to the Social Media Manager role at XOXO (Insert company name).
In that short but sweet answer, you've told the interviewer who you are, what you do and why you are a good fit for the role.
Please do not follow Fred Donga's example and say "I can't have anything, you are the one that has work for me...business deaf". You will not be deaf IJN. Lol.
Practicing your answers is a great way to boost your self confidence and manage any weaknesses (actual and perceived) you may have. If you've been blessed with an accent (when the mother tongue won't let you be great), practicing your answers can help with enunciation (speaking clearly) and structuring your thoughts for presentation during the interview (I use this tip for all my interviews and public speaking. It has never failed me).
Have great examples:
Oh Fred, saying you have skills isn't the same as providing examples of how you've used your skills to solve a problem. For every skill you list, have an example to demonstrate your expertise.
For example, you can demonstrate your familiarity with Content Management Platforms (CMS) such as WordPress and Squarespace by saying - "I have a working knowledge of WordPress and Squarespace and have built and managed 10+ (site numbers where necessary) websites for previous clients including keepthechangebruh.com.ng, Work Smart Nigeria, and Iwanthisjob.com".
The goal is to make it easy for the interviewer to visualize you in the role you have applied for in their company. Providing concrete examples goes a long way.
Negotiating who will drink the next "pure water" is not a great example of a skill. #Usewisdom...lol (Fred Donga needs deliverance, honestly!).
The most important aspect of an online interview is technology. A bad wifi connection, low phone/computer battery, or faulty video camera, laptop or computer makes a huge difference in the quality of the interview.
Test your technology to make sure it works. Charge your phone or laptop, do a test video call with a friend or family member, ensure that your computer camera and microphone works.
On the day of the interview, set up your interview space and gadgets 30 minutes early so that you aren't scrambling at the last minute.
I can't stress this enough. Your physical environment is an important part of the interview process. Here are a few things to avoid:
- A noisy environment: Find a quiet spot for your interview. While a cafe or business center might sound like a great place to hold an interview, you may get distracted by people walking around. Also, the everyday noise of the business hub may create a noisy background during the interview. Also, be aware of generator noise, traffic (if your house is close to the street), human traffic (if your interview is at home), etc.
Bottom line, find a quiet environment with little to no distractions.
- Backdrop: Aim for a blank wall or a formal backdrop as the background for your interview. Set up a table and a chair, with your back towards a wall.
If the location of your interview is a study room, it is okay to have your bookshelf behind you. If it is your dining room, pick a spot where your interviewer isn't looking at your beautiful patterned curtains, or out the window. Similarly, if you are interviewing in your living room, do not sit on the couch or have living room furniture in the background (TV, couch, etc.).
Pay attention to the lighting in the room. For instance, in the Fred Donga clip, we see a window, a mirror on the wall, a shelf, a door and a bright light hanging overhead. While these style choices are beautiful, you want the interviewer to be focused on you and not your decor.
Dress for the part:
I know, I know, it's an online interview. Why do you need to wear your sunday best? The key word here is 'interview'. You don't need to wear a full top to bottom suit. However, a formal dress shirt/top, a blazer jacket, and tie (for the guys), will go a long way in making the right impression. The rule of thumb is any part of your body that appears in the video should look formal.
Do not show up looking sloppy to your online interview.
Show up early:
In most cases, the interviewer will call you. However, it pays to be ready 10 minutes to the time. Set up your technology and sit in your interview space in anticipation of the call. Not only will you be calm, it will give you enough time to collect your thoughts and practice your introduction.
I could go on, but to summarize:
- Treat your online interview like an in-person meeting. Prepare, prepare, prepare.
- Practice your answers and have ready examples. This will help you structure your thoughts and also boost your confidence.
- Make sure your technology works. Do a test run to ensure that your equipment is functioning at full capacity.
- Your environment matters. Look for a quiet place and minimize distractions
- Be formal in your appearance. Don't be sloppy
- Be on time
Alright guys, that's all I have for you. Moral of the story, do not be like #FredDonga :). Let me know what you think in the comment section below.