INTERVIEW TIPS - These 6 Virtual Interview Mistakes Can Destroy Your Chances Of Getting An Offer
Interviewing has always been a bit nerve wracking, and the transition to virtual interviewing has unfortunately created even more potential landmines for candidates. HR and People Operations company Zenefits surveyed 1,000 hiring managers and small business owners to learn the biggest mistakes job seekers have been making.
1. Criticizing previous employers
Everyone understands that professionals seeking new opportunities are often frustrated with their current employers, but an interview is not a therapy session, and it’s a mistake to treat it like one. Indeed, whining and complaining about a current or previous employer is a real buzzkill and should be avoided. “That doesn’t mean job seekers should lie, but changing language to say things such as ‘the company culture wasn’t right for me’, or ‘I believe I would fit in better elsewhere’ is a polite way to address the topic,” the report advises.
2. Using buzzwords without meaning
While some candidates may think that stringing together lots of buzzwords and jargony phrases may make them sound impressive, the survey results show that hiring managers actually find them to be a real buzzkill. “Words such as ‘motivated’, ‘innovative’ and ‘trustworthy’ as stand-alone generic terms sound “buzzy” and are considered overused,” the report finds. “If there’s not [sic] specific examples with the term, best to avoid them and stick to specifics.”
3. Consuming food or drink during the interview
While this one may seem like a no-brainer, it was cited as a common problem. While candidates may be lured into a sense of informality interviewing from their own home, it’s important to still maintain the formality of an actual interview which unfortunately means that lunch may need to wait until you sign off. The survey findings assert, “An interviewee doesn’t want to be remembered as the one who spilt coffee down themselves.”
4. Not sharing enough hard skills
The study also revealed that while soft skills and general abilities are important, employers are often listening for specific hard skills related to the position. Remember that hiring managers want to get a sense of a candidate’s specific capabilities so it’s important to bring those to life through examples and anecdotes that clearly highlight both hard and soft skills.
5. Not having a suitable digital background
Amid the pandemic, virtually every professional has struggled to find the right setting for virtual calls, and the survey results just reinforce the fact that digital backgrounds do matter. While it’s not necessary to find the “perfect background,” it is important to avoid backgrounds that reflect poorly or are otherwise distracting. “Having a messy background with dirty dishes and laundry is not only going to give the impression that the interviewee may be disorganized or simply doesn’t pay attention to details, but it can also distract the interviewer,” the report asserts. The key is to maintain a clean background so the interviewer can focus on you.
6. Not explaining gaps in employment
While gaps in employment are certainly not a deal breaker, they should be explained. The survey found that hiring managers perceived unexplained gaps in employment as a clear misstep. Particularly during an unprecedented global pandemic, employment gaps are far from uncommon and hiring managers likely encounter many candidates with some gap, but candidates should not leave interviewers guessing. It’s much more effective to proactively explain why the gap is there.
Interviewing virtually can certainly be anxiety-inducing, but there are clearly ways to do it well. Avoid these six common mistakes and lean into this innovative interview format both literally and figuratively. Remember to physically lean in to the camera occasionally to really connect with your interviewer. But most importantly, lean into the opportunity by projecting an air of confidence and conviction. Make sure the interviewer gets the message that you’re the one for the job. Keep your energy high and make sure the camera captures your sense of enthusiasm and conviction. While candidates may easily obsess on the virtual components, the findings remind us to remember good old-fashioned interviewing best practices as well. The best candidates will focus on both.
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