Virtual interviewing is more than just a passing trend. More and more companies are utilizing video calls, screen sharing, and voice chat to transform all aspects of their business, and interviewing is no exception. Meeting virtually is becoming synonymous with “meeting in person,” and that’s actually a good thing.
And that’s especially true for client-focused, global companies like Ernst & Young LLP (EY). With thousands of employees and clients collaborating around the world, EY teams have to be nimble and ready to work with anyone, anywhere, across time zones.
So, to better prepare yourself for an interview that will mirror the new way of the working world, we spoke to Paige Sacks, an EY recruiting leader. She shared her tips with us for mastering the virtual interview—which she called “the dos, don’ts, and don’t worry abouts.”
The Dos Of The Virtual Interview
“Remember that this is an opportunity to tell your story,” Paige says.
Video interviews can either be live—with the interviewer on the screen—or short clips recorded in response to predetermined questions, and many of the best tips she had remained the same for both types of interviews. With that in mind, she had some must-dos for future virtual interviewees.
Prepare, prepare, prepare. Whether you’re conducting an in-person interview or a virtual one, it’s still a formal assessment of you, your qualifications, and your interest in the company. That’s why doing your homework is equally important for a virtual interview.
“Know the company and know your résumé,” Paige tells us. “Be ready to share an experience you’re proud of. Think about what you would want a future employer to know about you. Practice articulating why you want to work for that firm and what interests you about the role.”
Even if you’re sitting in your bedroom or an empty classroom, this is a business meeting, and you need to come as prepared as you would for any other.
Focus on the content of your responses. “We know the video interviewing experience can be awkward or nerve-racking,” Paige says. “We’ve done it, too, and we agree.”
However, given the prevalence of the technology and its key role in the EY business model, this form of interview is an assessment not only of your qualification for the role but your ability to function professionally in a virtual environment. Demonstrating that you can handle that, and do so with gusto, is essential.
Bring your natural energy and enthusiasm. “It’s hard even with a live video interview to get the kind of energy an in-person conversation would give you, so be sure to show that you’re engaged,” Paige says.
That means nodding, paying attention to the other person when they’re talking, and asking questions when appropriate.
The Don’ts Of The Virtual Interview
Despite their similarities, virtual and in-person interviews differ in crucial ways, creating certain pitfalls you must be careful to avoid.
Don’t be too rehearsed. While you do want to think about your answers to common interview questions beforehand—like why you want this job at this firm—you also need to avoid sounding too scripted. While this is usually more common in the prerecorded video interviews, if you sound like someone reciting a rehearsed answer, then your answers won’t sound authentic, no matter how much truth they have to them.
Don’t mess with the tech. Figure out your technology setup ahead of time. Make sure you have the latest version of the applications you’ll need. Test your mic and camera setup by doing a Skype call with a friend or family member. Make sure the space you are in doesn’t echo. Fumbling and fidgeting with mics, updates, and settings during the call could throw you off your game.
But know that, no matter how much you prepare, technology can be tricky, so you don’t have to worry about it too much.
“Technology is great, until it doesn’t work,” Paige says. “There are a few things that can go wrong when using video technology. We don’t care if they happen, but we do care about how you react.”
If something goes wrong, stay calm and address the issue to get back to business as soon as possible. Any company utilizing video interviewing knows these things can happen.
The Don’t Worry Abouts Of The Virtual Interview
Interviews are stressful situations. And there are plenty of things worth worrying about. Here are a few things Paige told us not to lose any sleep over.
The décor. You don’t need to rearrange the room or paint your walls white. You’re not being assessed on your taste in decorations or what kind of books you have on your shelf. As long as things are relatively neat and there’s nothing obscene in plain view, you’re all set.
“You need to have an awareness of what’s behind you,” Paige says. “But we’re not going to be paying attention to a movie poster or artwork on the wall.”
All the stuff that makes you a person. Sneezing, coughing, noises outside your window—these are just a part of life. If you’re recording a great response and you happen to sneeze, don’t delete it. If you’re talking and an ambulance siren echoes from the road, don’t sweat it.
Tough/difficult questions. There are no wrong answers to a question. The reason you were selected for an interview is because they wanted to learn more about you, which means they found you interesting. Don’t squander the opportunity by looking for tricks and traps.
“We’re not asking our candidates ‘gotcha questions,’” Paige explains. “We want our candidates to succeed.”
And if you follow her advice, there’s a good chance you’ll both get what you want: a great interview.
Want to put these tips to the test? Check out open opportunities at EY on WayUp!
The views expressed by the presenters are their own and not necessarily those of Ernst & Young LLP or other members of the global EY organization.