In a world full of Teddy Rileys, be a Babyface - especially for your virtual interviews. If you witnessed the greatness that was the Teddy Riley and Babyface song-for-song battle on IG a few weeks ago, you know exactly what I mean. Don't get me wrong, Teddy Riley is a LEGEND, but Mr. Riley was unprepared.
He has a portfolio like none-other but it was painfully distracting to watch it all unfold and you couldn't even enjoy it at first. His competition, however, came with it! Babyface had his studio lighting perfectly accented with candles, red crushed-velvet blazer, $2000 glass of wine, and his guitar which he ended up using for an impromptu live mini-concert while his counterpart...went to go find his charger.
The difference between a successful virtual interview and one that will almost certainly guarantee you won't get a callback, all lies in the work you put in ahead of time. Babyface came prepared for what he knew would happen and for the unexpected.
While Teddy Riley eventually got it together, he didn't put in the work to prepare. Did he have good reasons? Probably. It could have been his team, his lack of understanding of technology, underestimating the event, or any other number of common human reasons. Does it make Teddy less talented of a person? No, but it really did leave us a bit disappointed.
The tips below are going to help you "Babyface" your virtual interviews, every time!
Tip #1: Confirm (and re-confirm) the date and time of your interview - IN WRITING!
You will receive the interview invitation from the recruiter/hiring manager by email. Please, please, please MAKE SURE the email also contains the date and time of the interview, along with the connection instructions. Once you've got the date and time confirmed (in writing), burn it into your memory. I know it sounds dramatic, but don't think you'll "just remember" because it's likely that you won't. You can have everything ready and prepped to go, but if you miss this piece, it's all for nothing.
Write it on a sticky note and put it on your bathroom mirror, create a calendar reminder on your phone, or tell a loved one to help you remember. Do all three if you need to because let me tell you, being late or missing your interview, no matter how good your excuse is, is hard to bounce back from. Impossible? No. Bad first impression? Yes.
Tip #2: Test your technology
It is very likely that you are one of a few interviews booked very closely together as recruiters are trying to knock out connecting with multiple people for multiple positions every day. It is vital that you test your technology in advance so that you don't spend your time slot asking "can you hear, can you see me" 10X. It's tacky, unprofessional, and terrible use of both of your time.
I suggest you test it out with a friend or two as many times as you need to feel comfortable. This will allow you to become familiar with platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Skype, etc. If you've never used it, you get a chance to see how you look and sound on camera. You can get real-time feedback from them to make adjustments to sound and connectivity as needed. You'll be so happy you did!
Tip #3: Limit distractions and noise
Now, if you've ever been on a video call, personal or professional, you know how extremely annoying it is to hear:
1. Dogs barking
2. Kids screaming
3. Wind blowing
4. TV blasting
5. Driving (so dangerous, just don't)
6. CHEWING (uggghhhhh)
7. Breathing (okay maybe it's just me, but can we please back away from the mic)
It is imperative that you limit all noise and distractions. The recruiter/hiring manager needs to hear you and you need to hear what questions are being asked and any important details about the job they are sharing. Having excessive noise in the background or being distracted in any way makes you come across as unprepared and disinterested. I can guarantee that you will be quickly passed over. It seems simple but it could be the difference between a "We'd like to offer you the job" and "Unfortunately, you were not selected for the role".
Tip #4: Setup your interview area in advance
You know those people on social media who take selfies and say, "Excuse the dirty mirror"...and then post it anyway??? (yes, the entire internet is judging you). Don't be like them, clean your space up.
At the very least, tidy up the area you will be interviewing in. Yeah, recruiters and hiring managers are professionals (in most cases - we'll save this for another blog) but they are people too. They are not immune to looking at the area around you because for one, nosey, but secondly, if there are piles of laundry, trash, food, or you're just plain old filthy, it's also a distraction.
No time to clean? Test out the virtual backgrounds those platforms offer. Choose one that blurs your background or is in an empty space or office; just steer clear of putting yourself at the beach or in outer-space.
Tip #5: Know your stuff and come prepared.
Now that you've gotten your technology and interview area all ready to go, don't forget the most important piece. YOU! You need to bring it. Don't let up because you're not in person and don't slack off because this is not your typical interview.
You need to:
Refamiliarize yourself with the job posting/description.
Be prepared to explain specific elements of your experience, education, and accomplishments.
Ask relevant and appropriate questions.
Smile and stay engaged.
Ask for what the next steps are.
Say thank and properly disconnect (super important).
BONUS: PUT ON REAL CLOTHES! Sure you're in the comfort of your own home, but this is still an interview. That means, wash your face, brush your teeth, comb/brush your hair, and put on a decent top. There is no excuse for spaghetti straps, wrinkled pajama shirts, matted hair, or scarves/bonnets. Put your best self forward - it makes a difference.
I hope these tips help you with your next virtual interview. If you start to get nervous, just whisper "babyface" to yourself and it'll be all good! :)