A virtual onsite duplicates the full day interview process that traditionally took place at a company location. It can include multiple group and one-on-one conversations, plus technical interviews, candidate presentations, case studies and more.
This would all be challenging and stressful in person, and it can be even tougher online. Here’s why, and how to shine within this tricky interview format.
How is a virtual onsite interview more stressful?
Multiple interviews on one day are tiring enough. Add to this the likelihood of “Zoom fatigue.” Researchers at Stanford University have identified several reasons for this exhaustion caused by long teleconferencing sessions:
Excessive close-up eye contact. While eye contact in video interviewing is important for creating rapport and trust, it can be tiring. Plus, faces on videoconferencing calls can appear so large, it’s as if the person’s face were only inches from yours, an unnatural, “in-your-face” situation. To address this stressor, reduce the size of the Zoom window. (You’ll also see this step recommended, for a different reason, in the “eye contact” link above.)
Seeing your own image for long periods of time. Studies have shown that when faced with a reflection of ourselves we tend to be more self-critical. Of course, this adds up to stress and fatigue. To eliminate this stressor, use the “hide self-view” feature. On some platforms this is found by hovering over your image or clicking on it.
Challenges in nonverbal communication. Nods and other gestures don’t always come across naturally on video. They may need to be exaggerated in order to be seen, or may be interpreted differently than we’re used to. In an interview setting, there may not be any solution to this stressor other than frequent breaks. One job seeker persuaded the employer to conduct his virtual onsite over two or three days. How? Read his persuasively written request in this LinkedIn Pulse post.
Other steps to manage your energy level during a lengthy interview process include making sure your brain is adequately fueled. Bring high-protein snacks you can eat quickly and neatly. If time permits, a quick walk around the block may be refreshing, both to energize your body and to get a break from being in the spotlight. (Especially helpful for introverts!)
What else can you do to ace virtual onsite interviews?
In addition to preparing as you would for any interview, and in particular being aware of best practices for video interviewing, remember that each interview will be different because of the varied roles and personalities of the interviewers. Find out about the interviewers ahead of time, and customize your answers, stories and questions.
For example, with your prospective manager you’ll want to showcase your skills and accomplishments, but when interviewing with prospective direct reports a humbler approach may do more to gain rapport. Ask plenty of good questions, listen well and show that you’ll be a supportive manager. For an interview with a senior leader, be prepared to discuss how your work has contributed to the bottom line.
Remember that the interviewers are likely to compare notes about you afterwards. Prepare plenty of stories and tell different ones from one interview to the next. That way you show that you have a wide range of accomplishments, not just a few that you talk about over and over.
Above all, make sure you’re clear on the schedule and agenda for the day, while being ready to demonstrate flexibility if last-minute changes occur.
Now that you know how to ace virtual onside interviews, make sure you’re ready to accept a job offer.