Tackling the Virtual Job Interview

"I am happy to get a virtual interview with a top insurer, but I need advice on how to excel!"

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Great Insurance Jobs’ Cofounder Roger Lear is here to help you overcome obstacles to your career and job search. This month, he tackles the virtual job interview.

Q. I am happy to get an interview with a top insurer, but with COVID-19 risks keeping everyone at home, this company has scheduled a video interview. Can you give me advice on how to excel at this?

A. If you had asked me this question in February 2020, I would have given you a much different response. Most pre-COVID-19 video interviews consisted of a series of questions in which you recorded your answers via smartphone one by one and, when finished, sent the file back to the company. You didn’t have any interaction with the employer. Job seekers felt very challenged by this type of video interview.

During this pandemic, though, most video interviews are being done virtually on platforms like GoTo Meeting, Google Hangouts, and Zoom. They are conducted one on one with the employer, and both parties see and interact with each other just as if they were meeting in person. The questions asked are the same that would be posed in an in-person claims interview. The weird part for so many job seekers is the fact that the interview is live, most likely being recorded, and the applicants can feel like they are looking into a mirror answering questions.

With a few tips, however, you can learn how to excel in these video interviews. I have talked to many job seekers who have recently video interviewed, and these are the things that worked well for them.

The best way to interview is with a laptop that has a camera and mic built-in. Try to avoid using your smartphone at all costs. If you don’t have a laptop, I would suggest buying a Chromebook, which can be had for as little as $130. This is an inexpensive solution that has a good camera and mic.

Make sure you have a reliable internet connection by testing the meeting software the employer sent. Most virtual meeting solutions have test sites so you can get comfortable. Do this at least one day before the interview.

When setting up the computer, you want the camera to be eye level. To do this, you will have to raise the computer about 10 inches. Eye contact is critical, so when interviewing, be sure to stare at the camera, not the screen. Looking down at your keyboard or elsewhere will be perceived the same way as not making eye contact with the employer during a live interview.

Your background should be a beautiful, neutral wall, and good lighting is essential. Ideally, natural light works the best, but you want to make sure that, wherever you set up, the employer can see your face. Non-verbal communication is very important during a video interview.

Create some cue cards. Use some poster board and, in large words, write down anything that will help you knock it out of the park. For example, you may include the top three claims you closed, so when speaking to the employer, you won’t forget or stumble. Hang these boards behind your computer.

Make sure you research the company that is interviewing. Optimizing your video interview setup may take some time. Just remember, you are getting judged on your answers to interview questions, not your video setup.

I think video interviewing using virtual meeting tools will be very popular even after COVID-19 disappears. The advantage you have today is that the person interviewing you most likely is new to the technology, which provides an opportunity for you both to build a quick rapport with each other.

The best interviews are when you can connect with a hiring manager because they genuinely like you (nonverbal); you can do the job (illustrated by examples you use to round out your answers); and, of course, being prepared. And while we’re all a bit more understanding these days about distractions, don’t forget to dress nicely and have someone else entertain the kids and the dogs once you go live.

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About The Authors
Roger Lear

Roger Lear is cofounder of Great Insurance Jobs. He can be reached at roger@greatinsurancejobs.com.

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