5 big blunders you’re making during virtual job interviews

In this article, I’m going to highlight the 5 big blunders that I’ve seen job candidates make during virtual job interviews. Some of the below may seem like minor mishaps and because they’re easily rectified, not really a cause for concern. But remember, a virtual job interview is a time for you to shine – not a time to stand out for all the wrong reasons!

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1st big blunder: Inappropriate interview set-up

I’ve been in countless virtual interviews where the interviewee is sitting on the floor casually dressed or with a wide-open wardrobe behind them, or even walking around the space with their phone in an effort to find a secluded spot. 

Of course, we’ve all had virtual conversations this way. But in the context of a job interview, all of the above examples could be perceived as highly improper. 

Top Tip: Just because the interview is virtual doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared or that the set-up doesn’t need to look professional.  

For example, if you have to have your interview in your bedroom, find a neutral spot where the interviewers can focus on you and not your surroundings. Don’t walk while you’re talking, as this too can be distracting – check your internet connection is working before the interview takes place.

And even though your interview is happening virtually so the interviewers might not be able to see your whole outfit, you should still dress the part. Be and stay professional at all times. 

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2nd big blunder: Being too casual

It’s great to feel relaxed and confident about any job interview. But don’t get so relaxed that you end up acting and talking as though the interviewers were friends or family you were chatting to over dinner!

Top Tips: Communication skills are key during interviews, so make sure you use appropriate and positive language. Everything you say will help the interviewer both understand your reasons for applying for this position and determine whether you’ll be a good fit for the role and the company culture. 

So, don’t talk negatively about your previous job, colleagues or bosses. Spend time practising interview questions beforehand, just as you would with a traditional interview so that you can turn up to your interview sounding polished and professional. Use specific examples in answers that prove your worth and experience and which are relevant to the position you’re applying for. 

Above all else, do not use any unprofessional language such as profanities, slang and – as much as possible – filler words and phrases, such as “like, you know”, “I mean”. or the ubiquitous “um/er/uh”.

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3rd big blunder: Not switching your camera on

You may not like the way you look on camera. Many of us do not. Nonetheless, in a virtual job interview, you must ALWAYS have the camera turned on unless directed by the interviewees to do otherwise.

Top Tip: A virtual interview requires you to switch your camera on. It is, after all, exactly like a face-to-face interview with the only difference being that you each have a laptop in front of you. So treat it like a face-to-face interview and expect to be seen. 

Many recruiters may consider it rude or even odd if you have your camera turned off (after all, what do you have to hide?). Equally important is the fact that if others can’t see your expressions and typical nonverbal conversation cues, they might presume that you’re unengaged in the interview. 

4th big blunder: Not being able to work the video conferencing tool

Once upon a time, any virtual meeting took place on Skype. But that is not the case anymore. There are dozens of video interviewing platforms and tools and your job interview could take place on any one of them.

Top Tip: It’s OK if you don’t know your way around all the virtual conferencing tools or platforms. However, most recruiters will give you notice of when your interview is due to happen, which means you should have plenty of time to test out the platform before the big event. 

Once you know the video interviewing tool that’s going to be used, make sure it’s downloaded onto your laptop (if it needs to be) and ask someone to send you a meeting invite so you can check how to log in and off with ease. Also test camera and microphone functions, and anything else that may be applicable.

It may be annoying to do this, but it will ensure you don’t panic, turn up late or even find yourself unable to get in to the virtual meeting room to participate in the actual interview!

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5th big blunder: Not showing up 

This brings us nicely to our fifth and final big blunder to make for a virtual job interview – going AWOL. If something happens and you can’t make the interview, cancel it rather than just not show up. Doing the latter is unprofessional and disrespectful of the other person’s time. 

Top Tip: You are usually given the contact details of the interviewer, so as soon as you know you can’t make the interview contact them to cancel. If you give them enough notice, the recruiter might be able to reschedule another meeting. However, if you wait until the last minute, you’ll likely miss your chance at another interview and, of course, the job itself.  

Photo by Anna Shvets

For those who needs helps with their CVs and interview practice, book a discovery call with me, and let’s talk about how I can help you and support you with your job search.

Sylvia Nicolas
Verified Coach
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Sylvia is a career transition coach. With one-to-one online coaching she helps people discover a new career path and make the practical steps towards it. Email sylvia@snhumanresourcesconsulting.com to find out more or book a free consultation with Sylvia right now.

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