In simpler times, job seekers would send their resume to a prospective employer, or fill out an application in person. A few days later, if the employer believed the applicant was qualified, they would receive a phone call about scheduling an interview. Dressed appropriately, the applicant would meet with the employer, learn more about the company and the job, get a tour of the facilities and be introduced to some of the folks they might be working with. Today, though, you’ll be sending your resume electronically, if the employer deems you worthy, your interview will be scheduled via email, text message or online scheduling system. And, quite possibly, you might not have to leave home for your interview.
These days some employers find it easier to interview their applicants remotely. No longer is it necessary for the job seeker to be in the same room as her interviewer. A wide variety of free, relatively inexpensive and easy-to-use videoconferencing options are available to both employers and job seekers to facilitates pre-employment interaction, over long or short distances but still face-to-face. Though qualified candidates may live down the street from a potential employer, an online interview may be just as likely for a local as it would be for competing job seeker from out-of-town.
For a job seeker to be able to do an interview online, an Internet connection, webcam, earphones or speakers, a microphone, and a free Skype account is all you need to get started. Many late-model laptop computers already have built-in webcams (speakers), so you’ll just need a microphone, and to download some easy to use software, and you’re ready to do your interviews online. A Skype app downloaded to one of the newer smart phones will also do the trick.
These same technologies also allow the applicant to be on the road, and still be available to interview. This can be particularly handy if an interview opportunity comes up after a job seeker decides to get away for a few days to recharge and refresh.
But there are some important considerations to remember if you are being interviewed online. Before you transmit your image to the employer:
- Make sure you are dressed appropriately and look as good as you would if you went to the interview in person. You still want to make a good impression on prospective employers, and you want to feel professional during your interview.
- Position yourself so that your face is well lighted. Natural light is best, but decent overhead room lighting should be sufficient. A dimly lit space will add visual “noise” and a grainy look to the transmitted image. Don’t make it hard for the webcam to transmit your image clearly.
- Set yourself up in a quiet and non-distracting environment. If you’re doing your online interview from home, find a quiet place away from family, children, television, music, etc. If you are away from home, a public library can usually provide the quiet space you need. A book store or coffee shop will also do in a pinch, but offer you a bit less privacy. If you must be outdoors to conduct your online interview, try to find a place away from traffic noise and other loud distractions.
- Be prepared! Be as attentive and ready to answer questions as you would want to be for an in-person interview. Prepare a list of questions that you want to ask. Have some paper and a pen handy so you can takes notes if necessary.
- Make eye contact with the camera. Most videoconferencing software allows you to see yourself the way you’ll appear to the interviewer, so make sure you look like you’re paying attention and focused on the interviewer.
- Know the basic functions of your software and webcam. Before you have a critical online meeting like an interview, take some time to do an online chat with others using the same or similar tools. Learn how to turn the camera on and off, mute the sound, end the connection, etc. You want to appear confident during your online interview, not fumbling around trying to figure out how things work during this important interaction.
The technology we can use today to conduct job searches may be different, but the basics remain the same. When doing an interview, whether online or in-person, you must still convey that you understand and have the ability to fulfill the employer’s needs, and that you are someone the employer wants to work with. With just a bit of thought and preparation, you can make your online interviewing experience a positive one, local or long distance.
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