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Preparing for an online interview? Avoid these 5 common mistakes you could easily make

These days, more and more hiring decisions are being made in the digital realm. Increasingly, hiring managers are turning to the internet for their candidate search. However, this digital shift isn’t limited to résumé acquisition. Frequently, today’s job interviews happen online as well.

As with any new media, online interviews can be confusing. Many otherwise well-qualified candidates might lose out on jobs because they make these common mistakes.

Not testing the equipment

At times our computers and digital equipment can feel more complicated than necessary, so it's essential that you thoroughly test your equipment before the actual interview. Check to make sure that the microphone is working and that you know how to adjust the volume. Make sure that the camera is functioning correctly as well.

Not practicing

It's always a good idea to try holding a mock interview with a friend or mentor in advance of the real thing. Even more importantly, conduct this mock interview online as well so that you can be sure you're comfortable with the equipment and systems.

Not arranging the environment

Sometimes people forget that an online interview will pick up more than just your face. Don’t forget that the interviewer will still be able to hear any background noises. In a video interview, they will be able to not only hear the noises around you, they will be able to see what is behind you. Don’t expose your interviewer to a wall of dirty laundry or last night’s takeaway behind you. Make sure your area is clean and clear of clutter.

Plan to hold your interview in a quiet place without any distracting noises. If you must conduct the interview in a busy place, use quality headphones and, ideally, a mic which can be placed near your mouth. 

Not having a professional appearance

We’ve all heard the stories about people doing online interviews in a button-down shirt and blazer with their pajama pants on below. Amusing as these stories are, don’t be tempted to replicate them. Sometimes the camera catches more than you would think. Plus, having a full, professional appearance during your interview not only looks good to the interviewer, but will put you in the right professional mindset.

Not engaging professionally

Remember, an online interview is just like a traditional interview. Be sure to look at the camera and engage directly with your interviewer. Try to keep your hands still - if your internet connection isn't great, lots of movement might cause the video to lag. Plus, your microphone may pick up on your hand movements more than you realize. Many laptops have speakers near the keyboard. Touching your keyboard excessively can cause loud noises in your interviewer’s ears.

Of course, always be professional in your conversation. Keep on topic and never interrupt your interviewer.

Not having a backup plan

Finally, even despite our best-laid plans and practices, sometimes things go wrong. Make sure to have a back-up plan just in case. Bring spare batteries, cords and headphones. Always remember to keep the phone number of your interviewer or an alternate means of contact handy, just in case.

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