Win Your Online Job Interview: Simple Ways To Dazzle An Employer

Written by Adam Reinhard

Humorous image of job applicant interviewing with a vampire.
“Ve vill require you to vork ze night shift…”

There are many types of interviews: TV interviews, police interviews — even interviews with vampires (“Where do you see yourself in 500 years?”). When it comes to a job interview, employers traditionally vary their approaches to vetting candidates. You could have a simple chat at an office, or even be taken out to lunch. (“Tell me about yourself, but first, are you gonna finish those fries?”)

Times being what they are, however — distressingly, terrifyingly, wet-your-pants-ingly weird — most traditional job-interview methods have been thrown out the window. The window then gets slammed shut and locked to keep out the coronavirus.

These days, if you manage to snag that coveted interview (first of all: woohoo!), you’re almost guaranteed to conduct it remotely over web video. In fact, a survey conducted in April found that a whopping 86% of companies are holding job interviews online.

“Awesome!” you’re thinking. “I’ll just slip into my lounge pants, plonk the kids in front of Netflix, and let’s do this!”

Whoa, not so fast. Just because you’ll answer (and eventually ask) interview questions from the comfort of your home doesn’t mean you should get too cozy. This could be a life-changing opportunity, and there are still rules to follow.

Luckily, the Super Purposes team has an online course you can take to keep you focused, looking sharp, and prepared to ask smart questions to land the job. Check it out here, and keep reading for just a sample of their all-wise knowledge.

Is this thing on?

Before you dazzle a potential employer with your smarts, charm, and that stylish haircut you gave yourself (seriously, that’s impressive), you need to make sure you’re able to connect with them at all. That means making sure your technology is in working order and won’t go up in smoke like a vampire stepping into the sunlight. (“Blah, I vant to vork for your compa —” POOF!) 

Most likely you’ve been using Zoom, Skype or Teams a lot these last several thousand months in quarantine, commiserating over the internet with family and friends. But if not, now’s the time to familiarize yourself with all the technological bells and whistles. 

Has your chosen program downloaded properly? Have you set up an account? Is your webcam still smeared with jam from when your toddler got a hold of the laptop? Make sure you understand how the tech works and that it’s working properly before your online interview. This includes keeping your internet chugging along as fast as possible. (Sorry, kids, no streaming “Paw Patrol” until mommy’s done chatting with the nice people.) 

Woman attempts to do video job interview while husband and son goof off in the background.

Inform your family ahead of time that you’re going to be conducting an online job interview.

Is that a pile of dirty laundry behind you?

Now, about those lounge pants. Sure they feel like cottony, elastic heaven. And what’s the big deal with wearing them, since the video cuts off below your torso? But one big key to acting professional (and employable) is feeling professional, and that means dressing for it. 

We’re not talking a three-piece suit here — but a nice button-down shirt, maybe with some dark-wash jeans? Dressing well for an online interview puts you in the right headspace, and signals to the interviewer that you’re taking this seriously and showing respect. 

You’re not the only thing that should be presentable, either. Before you click “Join Meeting” on that Zoom call, consider your background. How is the lighting in the room where you’ll do the interview? Is the room messy? Is there an open door that a diaper-clad, jam-smeared toddler could waddle past? 

Remember, you want to treat this like a professional, office-like environment, which means keeping your surroundings immaculate and possible disruptions to a minimum. Be sure to communicate what time you need to be left alone for your interview with your family, roommates, or the vampire you accidentally invited inside your apartment that one time. (Let’s hope that’s only jam on his lips…) 

Ask your own interview questions like a boss

You’re looking sharper than a box of Harvard-educated thumb tacks. Your internet connection is running smoother than John Legend singing about creamy peanut butter. You even managed to make it to the end of the interview holding in your nervous burps. You should be feeling good about yourself! Let me rephrase that: You’d better be feeling good about yourself, because you’re not done yet. 

One of the most crucial parts of any job interview is the conclusion. How are they going to remember you? As someone with a genuine interest in their company and a good grasp of the job? Or that awkwardly quiet person obviously holding in a burp.

Asking your own interview questions is the perfect way to demonstrate your preparation, enthusiasm and competence at the end of an online video session. After a half-hour or so of being the focus of attention, now it’s your chance to turn the tables. 

“How do I know what questions to ask?” you’re probably wondering. Great question! (See? You’re good at this!) Our super course has several suggestions, and many should focus on explaining the job in greater detail (“What would my first week look like?”), or learning more about the company culture (“What do you like about working here?”)

Super Purposes head honcho and job-seeking grand poobah Super Julie Braun extols the wisdom of this interview question: “What’s the biggest challenge your department is dealing with right now?” Maybe they’re struggling to retain customers, or land on the perfect marketing strategy, or Karen keeps stealing everybody’s yogurt from the fridge. Whatever the problem they’re having, asking this question sets you up to offer a solution and demonstrate how valuable you’d be. 

Then there’s the one interview question that’s an absolute killer: “Is there any reason you wouldn’t offer me this job?” Asking this serves two purposes: You get a better sense of what qualifications they’re looking for to fill the role, and what concerns they may have about you meeting them. 

But it also then gives you the chance to sit up straight, look directly into your jam-free webcam, and swat those concerns aside! That’s how you turn “lack of experience” into “a fresh perspective for the role.” Or a gap in your resume can translate to “a passion for trying new things.” When they ask, “Wait, aren’t you a vampire?”, turn that into, “I’m willing to work the night shift!”

Any questions?

There’s much more you can do to prepare for your online job interview. For further learning, check out our Super Purposes course. And have a super day!