By Shea Ki
As technology keeps moving forward, companies interviewing or pre-screening their candidates online is becoming popular. I will never forget a recent surprising story an employer shared with me about an online interview his team was doing for their company.
The hiring managers were at the end of the online interview session with a very skilled college junior who had applied for a summer internship at their prestigious office. Everything in the interview had impressed the hiring team and they were ready to invite the job candidate to their headquarters for a final in-person interview. The interviewee was so excited to hear the good news. One of the people on the hiring panel was about to give the job candidate the exact location of where to meet for the last round of interviewing. The college student said, "Please wait just one moment while I grab a pen".
The interview candidate then stood up and walked across the room to get a pen off of his roommate's desk. He returned to the computer screen he had been interviewing on. He noticed that one of the members of the hiring panel was now laughing hysterically. Another had a horrified look on her face. The third was just shaking his head and quickly announced, "Uh, we suddenly need to get to a meeting. This interview is now over. Good luck with your internship search." All of a sudden the screen was empty, the online interview gone.
The college student was not sure what happened and put his head down in disappointment on his keyboard. He then noticed that although he made sure to wear the best shirt and tie possible, he had decided hours earlier, "who is going to see me from below my shirt on the computer?" In the excitement of getting the invitation for a final interview, he had stood up-- forgetting that he was only wearing boxers!
Here are five tips that will help prevent embarrassing moments during an online interview:
1) Your attire and body language still matter.
An online interview to some may feel more casual since Skype, Google Hangouts, and other video chat forums are often ways we keep in touch with friends and family. When an employer is inviting you to an online interview it does not mean you should be any less professional than you would be if you were both in the same room. Remember that how you stand and move come across the screen 10 times more than in person. Be sure to make eye contact with the computer camera often and try to keep hand gestures to a minimum as it can be more distracting across a computer screen than in person.
2) The background on the walls and the noise level can make or break your interview online.
If you were the boss or recruiter on the other side of the screen, what impression would the walls and other background give? Keep it neutral and take down any posters or other personal decorations. Be sure you will not be disturbed by anyone walking in during your online interview. You may need to shut down any air filters or other machines that make a static or other constant noise that online can sound louder than in your room.
3) Staying focused and uninterrupted are key.
Log out and shut down any instant messaging services, Facebook, Vine, Twitter, and all other social media. A phone vibrating or a person walking into your room will not only throw off any momentum, but can also expose to the company that you do not plan ahead. The interviewers also should not hear you typing or see your eyes wondering around on the computer screen. Multi-tasking during an interview can give the impression that the employer's time is not worth your full attention.
4) Put your safety first, always.
5) Confirm that your computer and their technology are going to be compatible.
When you mix technology and a high pressure situation without much practice, it's not a winning recipe. Ask the employer if you can set up a five minute trial run a day or two before the real interview to confirm your technology and theirs are compatible. This will help avoid the common "Is this thing on?" "Are you there?" "Can you hear me okay?" "Oh shoot! I pressed the wrong button! Where did you go?!" If a trial run with someone at the company is not an option, make sure to do a run through online with a person you trust as another strategy to decrease the awkward moments.
Your turn--Has anything embarrassing ever happened to you during an online interview? How did you handle it? Use the comment area below to share or to give your
Most of all, believe in you.