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Online interview tips for international students

online interview tips
Got an online interview coming up? Here's how to ace it. Source: Shutterstock

Graduating soon? Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, you may be facing more stress than usual trying to land an interview. But fret not — with the right online interview tips, you’ll be ready to ace the intense recruiting that will take place once the global economy rebounds from the crisis.

According to Practice Lead (Marketing & Creative) at Salt Recruitment Ruby A Celine, approximately one in five interviews are conducted online today. In the context of COVID-19, that number has obviously increased.

She told Study International, “Face-to-face is generally preferred but it is becoming increasingly common for companies to conduct digital/remote interviews, especially if their process requires more than two or three rounds of evaluation.

“I’ve had clients kickstart their interview process with a phone screening before inviting the candidate in — this one’s crucial to nail!”

While you will be attending an online interview from the comfort of your own home, that doesn’t mean that it won’t be nerve-wracking. No matter how many interviews you have gone to, there will be jitters, nausea and flashbacks to that one bad interview story you’ve been trying to forget (unsuccessfully).

According to one study, 92 percent of adults have job interview anxiety. Virtual or physical, we’ll still worry whether we’re dressed right, sound right and giving off the right vibes.

A screen doesn’t take all these concerns away but these online interview tips from experts, you’ll be prepared and confident:

Prepare for online challenges

Ruby stressed the importance of preparing in advance for an online interview and being mindful of the challenges that come with it.

Making sure you have a good Internet connection (including sound and video quality) is a major one, but there are also other challenges to be prepared for.

She said, “Sometimes we get so caught up preparing for the actual interview that it slips our mind to think about what we would need and it could be as simple as headphones!”

Think of all the ogistical challenges that could crop up during an online interview and be sure to prepare in advance so it doesn’t become an issue — such as checking your connection prior to the interview, setting up a quiet space and locking your room door to avoid distractions.

 

Practise out loud

It may feel awkward, but it’s best to acquaint yourself with speaking into a camera and conducting a mock online interview before doing one.

Ruby said, “The other challenge is overcoming the awkwardness of speaking into a camera and making sure we get all our ‘priority points’ across. I find it’s easier to fumble and lose confidence over a remote interview without enough practice or if we’re trying to recite everything verbatim.”

She advised students to be sure of themselves enough to feel comfortable when attending an online interview and to take a moment before answering a question to gather their thoughts.

Ruby advised, “Get to know yourself inside out. Think about how you can present your priority points in the shortest and most engaging way and examples that could help bring your skills and work experience to life for the interviewer. Respond to relevant practice questions (especially the difficult, super open-ended ones!) out loud to build confidence.”

She also said that students should be mindful of non-verbal cues such as eye contact and tone of voice as that’s what people tend to focus on and remember.

Have your documents and notes ready

online interview tips

Don’t forget to have notes and other relevant information ready during an online interview. Source: Ed Jones/AFP

Another helpful piece of advice Ruby shared is to carry a notepad the same way you would in a face-to-face interview.

“it’s a good idea to have simple notes that we could subtly glance at in any given moment. That’s the beauty of remote interviews — we could have everything we need in front of us in case we hit a blank.”

Also be sure to have your CV and other relevant documents in front of you, whether printed out or on a screen that you can easily navigate to, so you can refer to it if you are asked questions about your past experiences.

Don’t let accents come in the way

One particular challenge that international students face during interviews, whether online or face to face, is communicating with different accents.

Whether it’s understanding the interviewer’s accent or the other way round, it can be intimidating and awkward when two people can’t quite understand each other.

If this happens, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. Ask politely, “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. Can you explain that again?” if you are having trouble understanding what your interviewer is saying.

If your interviewer is having trouble understanding you, try speaking slower and clearer to get your point across, taking the time to enunciate difficult words.

Some international students engage an accent coach if they have a particularly thick accent and can’t improve it on their own, so this is also something to consider.

Be presentable in an online interview

online interview tips

Dress professionally when attending an online interview. Source: Stringer/AFP

Just because you’re attending an interview from home doesn’t mean you can wear sweatpants and don a messy bun.

Dress professionally, make sure your hair is neat, and make sure there are no distractions or messy laundry in the background that could make you look disorganised.

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