How to do well in a virtual job interview

Advice on how nurses can excel in a virtual job interview.

How to do well in a virtual job interview

Social distancing has meant that virtual interviews are becoming commonplace. Here are some tips to help you feel confident at securing your next nursing job in a virtual job interview.

Think about what you are wearing

What you wear is still important, even though you will only be seen from the waist up. You need to feel your best on the day and dressing to impress will help increase your confidence.

Wear a smart outfit, including shoes because this will help get you into the right mindset for the interview. Make sure your hair is smart and avoid wearing distracting pieces of jewellery. 

Wear a colour that helps you stand out and avoid wearing black as this colour can get lost on screen.

Understand the technology

Before the interview, ensure you can use the technology and get help if you need it. Practising with others beforehand will help alleviate anxiety on the day – interviews are nerve-wracking enough without technological glitches.

Place your device on a table or desk and check that your head shows centrally on the screen Use a laptop or computer to ensure full camera access, rather than a mobile phone where the camera view is limited.

Make sure your equipment is fully charged - you don’t want your computer to run out of battery halfway through the interview.

Check the background.  A plain wall behind you is best if you don’t have a professional-looking background, such as an office. Don’t show kitchen units, curtains or your bed in the background as this looks unprofessional. Think about the lighting in the room – do not sit with a window behind you and use lamps so you are not under a glare.

Ensure your mobile phone is turned off and remove any distractions from the room, such as pets.  Warn others in your household that you are participating in a remote interview and put a sign on the door so they know not to disturb you.

Prepare and practise your presentation. Not all interviews will involve giving a presentation, but if you have been asked to do this, make sure it is full of images rather than lots of text and bullet points, which can make people switch off. This will keep the interviewers engaged. Know your presentation well so you can stay focused on the panel rather than your slides.

During the interview

How you present yourself is equally important in a virtual interview, so think about how you come across on screen.  If you have made it to interview stage, you have already impressed the employers with your application. The panel want you to perform well, so try and stay calm and make sure you turn up on time.

  • Think about body language
    Sit on the edge of your chair and lean forward. This shows you are keen and creates an energy that will be felt by the interviewers.
     
  • Look directly at the camera
    Although it is tempting to look at the screen or the person you are talking to, looking at the camera will enable you to make eye contact and stop you from appearing off-centre.
     
  • Pace your speed
    Nerves can make us race through what we need to say, so practice before the interview so you aren’t rushing your answers.
     
  • Pause and take a breath before answering a question
    If you don’t hear a question properly, ask the panel member to repeat it, and if you don’t know the answer, just say so.
     
  • Deliver your answers with high energy
    The interview panel are looking for someone enthusiastic who lights up the room. Attitude is everything.
     
  • Always ask a question
    This shows you have thought about the organisation and the role you are applying for. Perhaps ask about career development opportunities at the trust or what the expectations will be of you in your new role.

Finally, don’t be overly worried by technical issues. The panel will have experienced similar frustrations using virtual platforms, so don’t get anxious if problems occur. If the issue can’t be resolved, the panel may suggest switching to a phone call or rearranging the interview, so be guided by them. Breathe deeply and stay calm by using techniques such as counting backward in your head from five. This will help you relax if you are feeling stressed.

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This is an abridged version of the article Virtual interview tips for nurses: how to present yourself and how to prepare which was first published in Nursing Standard.

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