As the world embraces remote work, job interviews have adapted, moving from boardrooms to our computer screens. Whether it’s a real-time interview over Zoom or a pre-recorded one, mastering this new format is critical.
For international students seeking that first big job or chasing the ideal internship, we’ve crafted a guide filled with handy tips specifically to help you navigate and succeed in these virtual interviews.
1. Familiarise yourself with the platform
We’re living in a digital age, and that’s reflected in how we interview. Platforms like Zoom, Google Meet or perhaps even proprietary interview software are now your gateway to potential jobs. To make sure you’re fully prepared, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the technology. Do a test run, check your microphone and webcam, and ensure the lighting is good and your face is clearly visible. If anything seems off, don’t hesitate to ask your recruiter for assistance or guidance on how to resolve the issue. For pre-recorded interviews, run a few trials to get comfortable with the time limits. This hands-on experience will not only boost your confidence but also ensure that the interview runs smoothly.
2. Timing: Your key to a stress-free interview
It’s all about timing. When you’re setting up your interview, choose a slot when you can give your undivided attention and are least likely to be interrupted. You need to be in the right frame of mind, fully prepared, and totally present. If the recruiter asks for your availability during a phone call, it’s perfectly fine to ask them to hold on until you can check your calendar and get back to them via email. This way, you won’t feel pressured into agreeing to a less-than-ideal time, and you can avoid rushing through your interview.
3. Dress to impress, even online
Never underestimate the power of a great outfit. Do some research about the company’s culture and dress code before you dress up for your interview. Even though it’s a virtual interview, dressing up professionally shows your respect for the company’s culture and also helps build your own confidence. If you’re unsure about what to wear, it’s always a good idea to ask your recruiter for guidance. Remember, first impressions matter a lot, even in a virtual setting.
4. Create an optimal interview environment
The environment you’re in can make or break your interview. your surroundings – they can be your best ally or your worst enemy during the interview. It’s all about creating a little oasis of calm in the hustle and bustle of your daily life. Choose a spot that’s quiet, gets good lighting, and where you’re least likely to be disturbed.
Do a quick tech check – shut down any non-essential browser tabs and maybe even leave your phone in another room. You certainly don’t want your favourite YouTube video or a text message chiming in the middle of a deep discussion about your qualifications! Also, give your pets, family members, or roommates a heads-up to avoid any surprise cameo appearances during your interview. This tranquil environment will allow you to focus, let your thoughts flow smoothly and ensure you deliver your best, whether it’s a live or a recorded interview.
5. Be mindful of time
Virtual interviews often come with their own ticking clock. In order to give comprehensive yet concise answers, it’s crucial to be aware of the time constraints. Practice delivering succinct, relevant responses that address all parts of the interviewer’s question. The goal is to provide as much insight as you can into your qualifications, experience and suitability for the role within the given time.
6. Show off your international experience
You’ve got a secret weapon in your back pocket – your international experience. This isn’t just about being a student from another country; it’s about all the incredible skills you’ve developed as a result. Being adaptable, resilient and having a broader worldview – these are real assets to potential employers. So, during your interview, make a point to spotlight these experiences. Discuss the hurdles you’ve jumped, the diverse cultures you’ve interacted with, and the personal and professional growth you’ve achieved. By doing so, you’ll not only distinguish yourself from other candidates but also demonstrate your unique value to their team.
7. Practice makes perfect
It’s an obvious one but arguably the most important, so it’s worth a reminder! The more you practice, the more confident you’ll feel. Conduct mock interviews with friends or mentors, and record your responses. Listen to your recordings and identify areas for improvement. Keep in mind the ideal pace as well: research by the Harvard Business Review shows that speaking at about 115 words per minute hits the sweet spot between too slow and too fast, helping to ensure your responses are comprehensive and well-understood. Regular practice will make you comfortable with the interview format and will help you deliver your responses with confidence and ease.
8. The power of a follow-up email
After the interview, take a moment to send a follow-up email. A simple thank you note can leave a lasting impression on your interviewer. It not only shows your appreciation for their time but also reaffirms your interest in the position. It’s a professional courtesy that can help keep you at the top of their minds when they’re making their decision.
Best of luck!