Since the start of the pandemic, 86 per cent of recruiters have been conducting virtual interviews and it’s looking likely that this method will be here to stay. With 50 per cent of British workers still working predominantly from home and employers looking to broaden their geographical talent pools with this shift to remote working, it simply makes sense for interviews to remain online, at least for the first round.
However, only being able to see the top half of someone’s body can make the interview process much harder for employer and candidate. Seeing as an enormous 93 per cent of communication is non-verbal, making that good first impression online is going to get a lot harder for both parties. Of course, we say both parties because first impressions don’t just count for a candidate, employers need to work hard on making themselves approachable, warm and nurturing to entice talent to work for them.
So, how can you make the best first impression in an online interview?
Make ‘eye contact’
It’s not always easy to maintain eye contact with someone in real life, and the feat becomes even harder online because you are in fact going to be looking at a small camera instead of another human being. However, much like in real life, instead of gazing off into the distance or focusing on yourself down in the right-hand corner, make sure you’re maintaining ‘eye contact’ with the other person on screen will showcase that you are engaged, listening and attentive.
Gestures make us better communicators. Whether it’s to help us describe what we’re talking about better, place emphasis on something or give clues to our emotional state, it helps us relay our thoughts and feelings with ease and allows the person on the other end of the conversation understand and empathise with you. Just be aware that too much gesturing may become distracting and may also cause your image to distort. Try your best to find a happy medium.
Keep up the social cues
Whether it’s nodding or making noises of agreement (mm-hmm, for example), make sure you engage in social cues regularly throughout your interview. Not only will this show that you’re listening intently to the conversation, but it’ll also let them know that you haven’t frozen!
Try not to fidget
When we’re nervous, we fidget. It’s the body’s normal response to elevated stress hormones which are getting ready to induce your fight or flight system. When your fidget, you may play with your hair, bite your nails, or tap your fingers – all of which can be incredibly distracting when speaking to someone else online.
If you know that this is how you respond to anxiety-inducing situations, work out ways in which to calm your body down. Move any distractions away from your desk and have something to ground yourself. It might be wrapping your hands around a mug of tea, sipping a glass of water intermittently or even sitting on your hands for brief periods. Do whatever works best for you.
Smiling releases endorphins to the brain to help ward off stress, boosting our mood, and making us feel happier. And it’s a fact that when we smile, the world smiles with us! In one Swedish study it was found that when others smile, it is our natural response to smile ourselves. By smiling throughout your interview, you’re bound to make a lovely first impression.
Interviews aren’t easy at the best of times and by moving online, it may feel even trickier for some. But don’t worry, stick to the advice above and you’ll make an amazing first impression.