Research by Garter, Inc has revealed that 86% of organisations are still using virtual technology in their arsenal as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whilst most employers would prefer to interview face-to face, a really well-run, virtual interview can still provide the structure employers need to determine whether a candidate is a right fit for their company. Running a virtual interview also forces an employer to be more structured and planned. Which means that you can perform at your best during the interview.
If you're concerned that a virtual interview will not allow you to demonstrate your technical abilities, with the right planning and foresight you can use the interview's structure to your advantage.
The basics to check before your interview:
That you are confident in looking and speaking into the camera which is replacing eye contact.
That your audio and video settings are suitable.
That you are familiar with the technology being used – zoom, teams etc.
That your office background is appropriate, and you are in a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted.
Once you have these things sorted, concentrate on the next 5 steps to win over your potential new employer…
Demonstrate your soft skills
Showing your communication skills will be essential in a technical virtual interview, particularly if you are operating remotely. You must show that you can work with others or manage team members, while also remaining effective at managing your own time and workload and structuring your day.
Win them over with whiteboarding
Usually, a whiteboard interview will involve a panel of employees who will work to test your technical knowledge.
You will be required to solve a problem by using a digital or physical whiteboard while they observe the progress that you make, including your reasoning and methodology.
Whiteboarding will be used to test whether you have the knowledge and skills that were first mentioned in the job advertisement or referenced in your application.
The complexity of the issue that you are required to whiteboard will depend on the job offer. As an example, for an entry-level software developer position, you may need to complete a creation problem with the use of HTML or Java.
Manage technical issues
Technical issues like wi-fi problems, software issues or a slow PC can raise their ugly heads unexpectedly during virtual interviews.
You can avoid technical issues by closing extra tabs and applications. Reboot your computer a few hours before the meeting and make sure you test your connection.
Make sure you logon early to practice, that way if an issue does occur, you can email the interviewer immediately to let them know you are having trouble. It could be worth rescheduling the interview rather than trying to continue.
Prepare for the technical test
Most employers will test a particular hard skill in a technical interview. But every company will approach this in a different way. Some will give you a real-time challenge to check how you apply your technical knowledge.
One thing to remember here is not to over-engineer your designs or practices. Remember, your design or solution doesn’t need to be perfect (you can talk the interviewer through your thought process). It just needs to answer the questions or solve the problem that the interviewer has referenced.
If you are working in real-time, make sure that you don’t rush through this task, take your time and think about what you are being asked. They will only expect you to work at a steady / logical pace and don’t forget that this will also give them time to provide a few hints that you might need. If you’re asked to talk about a technical project, here’s how to frame an answer:
Set the context – pick the project you were leading
Draw out the technical systems involved
Describe how each system connects to each other
Describe the solution by walking through how it flows through the technical systems drawing
Ask if the interviewer wants to ask any questions or gain any more information
If the interviewer is happy and has no further comments, you’ll be in good shape as you’ve demonstrated a solid technical understanding of a real, live project.
Think about common and not-so-common questions
As well as the typical questions that crop up in an interview scenario, it would be worth planning for more technical questions that you may not be able to demonstrate 'physically’, such as:
Project based questions: Engineering projects require a lot of logical and analytical thinking to solve problems that occur on the job. Interviewers will expect you to provide examples of when you’ve used your technical skills. Try to describe the project you worked on, the role you undertook, how you overcame any difficulties and what you learned from it.
Problem solving questions: Often there isn't a right or wrong answer to these questions but it's more for the interviewer to understand how you think and observe how you communicate your answer. Remember that you can have some breathing space to think about your answers to these questions, take your time.
Talk through a technical challenge you’ve faced and describe how you overcame the challenge
Describe how you would manage a technical issue remotely
Demonstrate how you have adapted to remote working and presenting your work remotely
Don’t forget to compile a list of questions for your employer as you would in a face-to-face interview. For more advice on technical interview skills read our blog here or for more interview tips see here.
The important thing to remember is this is still new to lots of candidates and employers. Feel free to reach out to your recruiter before, or to the interviewer during the interview. You should not hesitate to ask for support if there is something you are unsure about.
And finally - reach out for feedback at the end of the interview.