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How to connect with interviewers and put your best foot forward – virtually.
If you have been invited for a final round interview, congratulations! It means you have presented yourself well so far and the company thinks you may be a great fit for the role. You should commend yourself for making it this far, but don’t get overconfident. At this stage, you will be up against the strongest competition.
While a final round interview can be nerve-wracking, doing it by video may seem even more daunting. To ease your mind, read these tips to help you succeed in a virtual final round interview.
Final round interviews are often drawn out over several hours, as you meet with different people in the company. Find out the schedule in advance and prepare accordingly, letting your roommates or parents know that you will be tied up. Share the schedule with them so they know not to disturb you and make sure they stay quiet and out of the room you are in.
Clear your schedule
Think through your usual responsibilities, such as when you normally need to walk your dog or if it’s your turn to cook dinner. If necessary, ask your roommate to take over those tasks for the day. Don’t schedule any deliveries, to avoid having to answer the door. Also, make time for lunch and bathroom breaks. If necessary, prepare snacks or a meal in advance.
Prepare like you would for an in-person interview
Because you will be at your computer, you may be tempted to type out answers to potential interview questions and read them off your screen. This will make your answers sound stilted and unnatural and interviewers may be able to tell you are reading. Instead, prepare and practice your answers beforehand, just as you would for an in-person interview.
Do your homework
The same strategies that lead to success in an in-person interview still apply over video. You need to take the time to prepare and approach the final stage with the same degree of professionalism you have relied on so far.
Think back on your earlier interviews and re-read the job description. This will help you elaborate on answers you gave earlier or consider how you want to modify an answer from a previous interview. In the final round, the organization is seeing how you will fit into the workplace, so expect behavioral questions, where the interviewer asks how you acted in a specific situation. Take the time to identify new anecdotes and examples to avoid discussing the same story with multiple interviewers and to best demonstrate your skills and experience
Be ready to discuss salary and benefits
While you typically shouldn’t bring it up yourself, be ready to talk about and negotiate salary. Decide in advance on your lowest number, have a list of your qualifications and do some industry-specific research so you are prepared to negotiate if necessary. Before the interview, consider speaking to a few others in the industry in similar jobs, to determine the average salary for an entry-level employee.
Show your interest
Be ready to describe what type of company you would like to join, showing an understanding of the company’s values, culture, and mission. Show your excitement about joining the team and restate your interest in the position and the company.
You have likely already been invited to ask questions during previous interviews, so now you will have to dig a little deeper to come up with thoughtful ones. Show that you’ve thought about what it would be like to work in this job and at this company. Ask questions about what the first day or first month on the job would be like.
Set up your equipment
Your phone is not the correct device to use for an interview. You should be sitting at a desk or a table with a computer or laptop. Be sure to find out exactly what videoconferencing program the interviewer(s) will be using. Then you will need to set up an account, download any necessary software, and test your camera and microphone. Confirm the time zone of the interview.
Make sure you test out the lighting in your room to see what works best. It is usually good to have lighting in front of you and, if possible, above you. Set yourself up to face a window, with the curtains open so the light shines on your face, rather than the back of your head. Sit in front of a blank wall if possible, or a background without clutter or other distractions.
To prepare, have a friend video call you using the same program and do a mock interview to test out the software, sound, video and lighting.
Choose your outfit strategically
When choosing what you are going to wear, consider a light color rather than white, which can cause a glare. Avoid large prints, red or flashy jewelry, which may be distracting on the screen. Try to mix up light and dark clothing. With too much light-colored clothing, the camera may automatically darken the picture, which can make your face appear shadowed. And be sure to get dressed appropriately from head to toe. It will help you feel more put together and confident—and help avoid any embarrassing moments!
It can be tricky to read body language over video chat to know when your interviewer is finished speaking. Wait one or two seconds after they have stopped to avoid talking over them.
Let your personality shine through
At this stage of interviews, you will likely meet with your would-be manager or someone higher up in the company, so don’t be intimidated. They will want to see if you are a good match for the team. Build a rapport through a bit of small talk and active listening.
Remember to look into the camera and not at your computer screen so that you are looking at the interviewer. It is more difficult to read social cues or to convey your own over a screen, so be sure to smile, make eye contact, and be enthusiastic—let your personality shine through!
Send a personal follow-up after the interview
Just like a normal interview, sending a personalized follow-up and thank you note following the interview can help you stand out and add a final polish to your interview. While hand-written thank you notes aren’t really an option here (asking for someone’s personal mailing address isn’t exactly appropriate), a well-written email that recalls a few key details from the interview can leave a lasting impression.
In many ways, virtual final round interviews are just like the real thing. However, there are a few key differences that make the extra preparation necessary to nail the interview. If you take the time to prepare for the interview and properly set up your equipment and environment, you will be sure to ace it.