Sometime in your job search, you will likely have an interview that doesn't take place in person. School districts have been conducting phone interviews for many years, but more and more districts are turning to Skype as a means of interviewing candidates. And while you should prepare as thoroughly for a virtual interview as you do for one that is face-to-face, there are some additional factors to consider when interviewing virtually.
Dress the part. Even if the interviewer can't see you, your mindset is affected by your attire.
Arrive early. Be ready 10 minutes before the scheduled time. Don't forget to visit the bathroom BEFORE the interview starts.
Test out the technology. Make sure that everything is connected and working. Do a sound check and check the lighting in the room if you'll be on a webcam. Make sure that your cell phone has good reception and a full battery. You don't want to seem unprepared.
Eliminate distractions. Choose a location where you're not going to be interrupted and you'll have a table or desk for your materials. Ask your roommates to keep it quiet. Put the dog outside. If you're not conducting the interview on your cell phone, turn it (and other phones in the house) off. If you're on Skype, make sure that your surroundings are tidy.
Organize your materials. Although it's true that you can have more information at your disposal when you are not face to face, shuffling through papers or looking away from the webcam to check your notes will backfire virtually the same way it would in person. If you want to have extra information available, make sure you've organized it in a way that's easily accessible without breaking the flow of the conversation.
Think about how you sound. Since phones and webcam microphones distort sound, you may need to take care to speak a bit more slowly or distinctly. Your manner of delivery should sound professional and upbeat, and remember, even if you can't be seen, a smile can still be heard!
Focus on the interviewer and what they are saying. If you're doing a webcam interview, look at the camera, not at the screen. If you're on the phone, make sure you're listening closely. When you aren't face to face, it's more difficult to maintain attentiveness.
With a little innovative preparation, you'll be able to get past the barriers of not being face-to-face!
Assistant Director of Programs and Training
Center for Calling & Career
Northwestern College, St. Paul, MN