Solid handshakes are a thing of the past when it comes to starting off strong for an interview. That’s because more interviews are taking place digitally via video or phone. In fact, most companies will start off with a phone interview or quick 15-minute video conference before inviting you in to interview in person. According to a US Census, over 5% of workers in the US work from home - or some 8 million people, which means you may never step into an office again to show off that handshake. No longer can you woo a potential employer with your sharp looks and reassuring grip, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still nail your interview. Below are five helpful tips on how to walk away from a digital interview successfully.
1. If it is a video interview, create your space: Video interviews, in a way, are more intimate than in-person. You’re inviting a potential employer into your space, and that means you need to make sure it’s presentable. Find a well-lit, quiet space within your home or shared-work space. Ensure that the background is professional and clean, add sophistication with a simple plant or framed photo. Before you begin, be sure to always make sure your camera and speaker are in good shape and functioning. Don’t be afraid to add an extra lamp or two to better light your face. The same goes for ensuring that the lighting isn’t too bright in your space- nothing is more distracting than a darkened face or too bright a glare.
2. Quiet space means quiet space: Have you ever been on the phone with someone and heard a dog bark, or a baby cry, or a siren roar by? Sure, these are everyday sounds, but during an interview they are distracting. As a rule of thumb, I would avoid coffee shops (I’ve yet to find a quiet Starbucks) or outside spaces. Mics pick up on the smallest of sounds, especially the wind or odd tweet of a bird. If you can’t find a promising quiet space, try to create one. Your car (parked somewhere off the main drag) is a great place if your home or remote office is too loud. You can also lock it, ensuring no one enters midway through.
3. Make sure they have everything they need from you prior to the interview: Because you aren’t going to be able to hand them your resume or examples of your work in person, ensure that they have the most up-to-date copy in front of them. Sometimes resumes are pulled from job boards or LinkedIn, and these might not fully demonstrate your most current work. Feel free to add a few lines to better represent the qualifications they are looking for. Shoot them an email a few hours before your interview with your fresh resume and links to your portfolio. Not only will this save them time, it will also let them know you’re on top of it.
4. Smile as you talk: You can tell when someone is smiling as they talk over the phone. Don’t believe me- try it out. Your voice inflection is immediately lighter, more energized, and, well, happy. Smiling also releases positive endorphins, helping to reduce your stress or anxiety during an interview.
5. Dress for success even if no one will see you: Studies show that our appearance affects our moods and thoughts. When we look polished and professional, we tend to put off that kind of energy and feelings. When we are in sweats and a t-shirt, we tend to think less abstractly, feel sluggish, and give up power. So even though you might not be leaving the house, dress in something that makes you feel empowered, professional, and ready to nail your interview!
6. Send a “Thank You” email directly after your interview: Some argue this is overkill, but I’ve never had anyone ignore a “Thank You” email. In the email, make a point to mention a thing or two about the company that was covered in the interview to let them know you were paying attention. Thank them for their time and let them know further availability in your work week where they might reach out to you again if they have any further questions. Sometimes when you’re up against twenty plus candidates, showing up in their inbox multiple times can be the difference between getting passed over or getting the job offer. Sidenote: If you don’t yet have a professional email, make sure you create one using Alcamine! Roxygurl89@aol.com probably isn’t the vibe you are trying to send. Instead, opt for an email with your first and last name, and a few numbers if that is already taken.