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8 Strategies to Crush Your Virtual Job Interview

Zions Bancorporation Director of Recruiting Trina Eyring offers guidance to job seekers in the age of coronavirus.

Nicola McIntosh May 18, 2020

A firm handshake and direct in-person eye contact once helped candidates stand out from the crowd, but times have changed. The virtual interview environment — the new normal with so many people working from home — requires job seekers to learn new skill sets.

Zions Bancorporation Director of Recruiting Trina Eyring is well-positioned to offer tips to candidates in the age of coronavirus.

Since mid-March, when the majority of Zions Bancorporation employees started working from home, she and her team have conducted 769 interviews resulting in 233 external and 97 internal hires — mostly through remote interviews.

Whether you’re a candidate or a hiring manager, follow Eyring’s 8 strategies to help crush your next virtual interview.

Zions Bancorporation Director of Recruiting Trina Eyring
Zions Bancorporation Director of Recruiting Trina Eyring

Virtual job interview tip #1: Find the right location in your home

It should be quiet and look as professional as possible, within reason. There’s no need to banish family members or pets from the home during your interview.  “It doesn’t need to be perfect — people are very forgiving,” Eyring explains.

While it’s important to put your best foot forward, you should also be honest with the interviewer. She recommends that candidates preface the discussion by explaining that their dog might bark when the mail is delivered or that there could be background noise during the interview despite asking family members to be quiet.

Under no circumstances should you conduct the interview from your bedroom — which can have an inappropriately intimate feel — or in the outdoors, which is typically noisy.

Virtual job interview tip #2: Test your equipment

“The most feedback we’re receiving is people having interviews and the technology isn’t working,” Eyring explains. She recommends taking a test drive with a friend beforehand to make sure that the microphone and video are turned on and working properly. “95% of issues are preventable with some practice beforehand,” Eyring says.

Remember to test the lighting in the room where the interview will happen. “You want to have light coming on to your face rather than in the background, so the interviewer can see you and your expressions,” Eyring says. “The more light, the better.”

Virtual job interview tip #3: Dress professionally

You don’t need to wear a suit, but a sweatshirt or T-shirt is out of the question. “Business casual is appropriate, and more relaxed from the norm is acceptable, even in banking,” Eyring says.

Virtual job interview tip #4: Be prepared

This is true whether the interview is in-person or virtual. Eyring suggests having a copy of your resume handy as well as a place to take notes. Keep a glass of water nearby, and remember to tidy up your workspace and anything in the background.

Virtual job interview tip #5: Look at the interviewer in the camera

Your instinct is likely to look at the interviewer’s eyes on the monitor, but you have to practice answering questions as calmly and naturally as you can by looking directly into the camera. “Eye contact is a really good first impression indicator, and you have to go against your natural instinct,” Eyring says. Again, this is an area where you could practice with a friend in advance. 

Virtual job interview tip #6: Ask questions

One downside of everyone working from home is that candidates don’t have the opportunity to visit the physical environment, or have as much opportunity to connect with future colleagues. Eyring says it’s important to ask more questions about work life and culture, and to suggest virtual group interviews with future team members. “A hiring manager who doesn’t want to do that would be a red flag,” she says.

Virtual job interview tip #7: Be reassuring

Hiring managers should recognize that prospective employees are feeling more vulnerable than ever. “Candidates are nervous about making changes right now,” Eyring explains. “They want to know details about working on site, what precautions the employer is taking to help ensure their safety, how will they be trained and onboarded remotely, and how they will be connected with their team.”

Virtual job interview tip #8: Don’t forget the follow-up

Follow up your interview with an email, thanking the hiring manager for his/her time and reiterating a key point or two about the goals of the position that emerged in the interview. Hiring managers notice when they receive an email from one candidate but do not from another.

Eyring said she expects that even when they return to their offices, her recruiting team will continue to use virtual interviews as the first step in the hiring process.

“In the virtual environment, there is a lot more honest communication happening that isn’t based on a role or hierarchy. People are more relaxed in their home,” she says. “Seeing sides of people that you normally wouldn’t has advantages. Everybody is a little more vulnerable and it creates a deeper level of connection.”

Looking to transform your career in 2020? Learn more about job opportunities with Zions Bank and Zions Bancorporation on our Careers website.

Nicola McIntosh is Social Media manager for Zions Bank.

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