Tips to Ace Online Interviews during COVID-19 Outbreak

Ace Online Interviews

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to stay put indoors. Despite the persisting lockdown situation, companies are functioning remotely. If nothing else, this is a way to ensure business continuity. As part of the process, HR Managers or recruiters are hiring rampantly through online job interviews.

Have you received a remote job interview invite? Please note that cracking it is not as difficult as it seems. Don’t worry if you haven’t. Chances are you will land an online interview invitation soon, provided you are an active job seeker within the coronavirus pandemic.

In this article, we have curated some highly actionable tips for acing an online job interview. Read them and rock any remote or telephonic job interview from the comfort of your home during the lockdown.

Things to do before the interview


1. Know your interview panelists

It is okay to know who will be interviewing you. Ask your HR contact person to share the names of your interviewers or panelists. Check them out on professional networking sites like Twitter in advance to get an idea about their profile, interest areas and domain expertise. Try to keep this research discreet. You can also do a healthy google search on them. (No stalking on Facebook and Instagram please!)

Action Point:The purpose of this exercise is to gather information and also to discover a common professional connection. Eventually, these points can become great conversation starters.

2. Research the company

Do a basic research about the company you are about to interview for. Check the organization’s background and read up any major news pieces. Derive a generic idea about their major products and/or services. Also memorize the names of important people like CEO, Founder, and Board of Directors etc.

Action Point:The purpose of this exercise is to be able to talk about the company for 2 minutes if you are asked to do so.

3. Prep the interview area

Tidy up your designated home workstation or the spot you pick for your remote job interview. If it’s a video call, displaying a messy room with scattered children’s toys or other personal items can make you appear highly disorganized. This may give off an unprofessional vibe and mar your chances of landing the job! Also as you speak, the interview panel should not get distracted by a mess. Also the acoustics shouldn’t be hinting of clutter around you.

Before the audio or video interview call, look around to see what the interviewer’s view is like. Take your designated interview seat and turn the camera (of your laptop or phone) ON in selfie mode. Double check your setting. Keep your background as businesslike and as neutral as possible. Also, organize your desk neatly and get rid of chaos for convenience. Keep obvious stuff like a notepad, a pen and a few sharpened pencils handy.

Action Point:The purpose of this exercise is to suppress any unnecessary information about you. You also do not want your interviewer to draw pointless conclusions about you or your lifestyle.

4. Think of a plan B

Think of as many worst case scenarios as possible in advance. Your video conferencing app or meeting platform might hang or stop working during the interview. Your internet might get disconnected as you are speaking. Power supply may fail in the area! Anything can happen beyond control during your interview. What do you do in such palpable cases? Of course have a plan B ready!

Start out by keeping the email address and phone number of your HR contact person handy. This is to connect with them instantly in case of a discrepancy. You might end up having a conference phone conversation instead of a video interview.

Action Point:The purpose of this exercise is to ensure your remote job interview plan is 100% foolproof. Also, in case of adversity, your plan B can save your day and even land you the gig!

5. Prepare well in advance

You would, of course, brush up your basics in advance. Similarly, ensure that you are leaving a strong impression by logging in a few minutes early. Double-check if all technology and equipment are working fine. Charge your laptop or phone well. Also, keep the charger/adapter handy just in case your battery drains out. If you are planning to attend your interview on a desktop, reboot prior to the interview and keep it plugged into the power source.

Action Point:The purpose of this exercise is to be prepared for an interview and not be rushing when the interview begins.

Things to do during a video interview

Here are a few things you should take care of while your interview is in progress via a video call.

1. Check internet bandwidth

Internet bandwidth at home is a persisting issue. Sometimes, two or more people are online in an apartment or house at the same time. So the network can cause delays, glitches and other issues while using video conferencing tools. In such a case, please notify your family or roommates in advance to stay offline across devices through the duration of your interview.

Also be prepared to turn off the video function on the meeting application during your remote interview. You’ll still be able to talk to your interviewer on whatever platform you are using, minus the visual bit. Or you can reschedule the interview at a later time if things go really awry.

Action Point: The purpose of this exercise is to ensure your remote job interview goes on smoothly till the end. Of all things, internet speed should be the last villain of the job you applied for amid COVID-19. So take precautions in advance.

2. Dress appropriately

Interviewing from home also calls for a professional look. Your interviewer knows you are locked up indoors. So dress up professionally and look neat. Tidy up by bathing and brushing before the interview. While men can wear a smart light-colored shirt and trousers, ladies can wear a light-colored formal top, a headscarf, and choose to put on some light makeup too. Footwear obviously does not matter for both men and women.

Action Point: The purpose of this exercise is to ensure you are appropriately dressed for a job interview, even while attending the interview from home. This gives a subtle hint about your professional approach towards work.

3. Keep all noise levels low

You will be addressing the interviewer over a video or audio call. So try to keep the noise level in your interview setup as low as possible. Please make arrangements for someone to watch your children, pets, guests, etc. at home for the duration of your interview. Also, turn off all distractions like televisions, stereos, mobiles, land phone ringers, calling bells, etc.

Action Point: The purpose of this exercise is to ensure that nothing distracts either you or your interviewer from concentrating.

4. Pay attention to facial expressions and voices

As you answer the questions of your interviewer, address their queries one by one. Try to speak in a calm voice and articulate clearly. Remember to smile and laugh when appropriate, just like you would face to face. You want to demonstrate that you are totally involved in the conversation.

Give a pause of a few seconds at the end of your sentences to avoid talking over someone else. Remember to look into the camera while speaking, and not at your own image or the other person’s image.

Action Point: The purpose of this exercise is to demonstrate a methodical, calm, and mature approach.

5. Give a strong conclusion

As your remote job interview comes to an end, you will be asked: “Do you have any questions?” Ask your interviewer about the next steps in the process. Also thank them for their time.

Action Point: The purpose of this exercise is to demonstrate yourself as a future employee of this company. Your effective communication over a video conference has to leave a positive impression in the mind of your interviewer.

By now you have gathered a lot of information on how to conduct yourself before and during a remote job interview from home. Remember to follow the above actionable tips to the letter. Then you would surely hear yourself say ‘YES!’ loud and clear to a new job opportunity soon enough.

All the best for your remote video interview!

Photo by J. Kelly Brito on Unsplash

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Categories: Covid-19 and Careers

About Geetanjali Mukherjee

A true wordsmith — Not only is writing a way of sharing what I think, but it’s also a way to clear my mind and understand the world around me

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