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Top Tips for Virtual Interviews

You may be thinking that this is probably all a bit self-explanatory, or some may say obvious! But, you will have spent A LOT of time revising for these interviews, so why take the risk of throwing that all away because you haven’t prepared for the ‘virtual’ aspect of the interview - it is just as important. No one wants to miss points because of misinterpretation/ representation through a camera and speakers!

We consulted executives outside of medicine (who spend all day on zoom) and pooled our own knowledge (having recently gone through a similar process ourselves) to bring you simple top tips for virtual interview success.

1. Interview Setting

Plan well in advance the location of where you will have your interview.

Will this be in your own house, a room you have booked in your hospital, or maybe a public location that you can use (eg Library (adherent with Covid-Protocols of course)?

What do you need out of this space:

  • No interruptions - ensure everyone you share a house with is aware well in advance not to disturb - YOU DO NOT want your interview terminated because of the door being whipped open

    • And yes that means those cute pets!

  • Quiet - A room that is quiet from any housemates/relatives but also think about what may be happening outside your window (are you on a busy street, are their building works nearby etc.) - eliminate any possibility that surrounding sounds could interfere with your concentration and answers.

  • Good internet connection - YOU CANNOT RISK that pesky wi-fi cutting out mid-interview! Have a back-up plan to hot-spot off your phone just in case your wi-fi is unstable.

  • Comfortable - this is a stressful situation, you want to make sure your chair and arrangement is as comfortable as possible. It is definitely worth practicing sitting in the proposed set up for 30 minutes without moving, maintaining a good posture.

  • Simplicity - the room you choose needs to be simple. You don’t want anything in the view of the camera that may distract the interviewers (think about what is on the wall behind you, any mirrors or windows that might reflect the rest of your room). Also they will ask you to show them everything around you with your camera prior to the interview, the less stuff in the room, the less chance they are to think anything untoward is happening.

  • Lighting - ensure there is good lighting in the room that you are sitting especially surrounding you and the device that you are using so that the interviewers can see you clearly.

2. Attire

  • You’re having an interview, and that is no different just because you are behind a camera.

  • Dress to impress and yes that means all of you!

  • You may think that wearing a shirt and tie/formal blouse and then having some comfortable jogging bottoms on will help you stay comfortable - BUT what may it do to your mindset? You don’t want to have a ‘comfortable’ mindset that may cause lapses in concentration. Pick out your best suit/dress/shirt and skirt and use your attire as your driver for professionalism.

  • Glasses - For those of you out there who wear glasses, make sure that they are anti-reflection or have a reflection resistant coating - otherwise it can reflect your screen back. It can be extremely unnerving when the examiner cannot see someone’s eyes and on a virtual interview if there isn’t such a coating on the glasses then they create a reflection rather than the interviewer being able to see your eyes.

Our Advice:

  • White shirt, full suit (tie if appropriate).

  • The executives we have spoken with advise avoiding patterns, as they do not translate well on zoom - stick with simple block colours.

  • Don’t forget shoes.

  • Check that your glasses aren’t reflective on video well in advance.

3. Platform

  • The interviews are being run on the Microsoft Teams platform.

  • If you haven’t used this before, get yourself familiar with it ASAP! You DO NOT want the interview day to be the first time you have navigated the platform.

  • Your NHS email is already set up for a corporate account with it, we advise using this email rather than hotmail/gmail - it will look more professional!

  • They have applications for both your phone and your laptop/desktop, download them both and practice using both of them.

  • Check your display name (if you have used this platform for non-business reasons and put your nickname on there).

Our Advice:

  • Download and start using it now!

  • Use it as the platform when performing practice interviews with friends or colleagues

  • Use your NHS email address.

  • Display Name - Full Name (you can leave the middle names out ;))

  • Look at your account settings well in advance - ensure they are all optimised.

4. Device

  • As the interviews are run on Teams, you can run this off your laptop/desktop or mobile phone - so you need to decide which you are going to use and practice using it.

  • You want it to have a strong internet connection.

  • You want it to have a decent camera. Also think about how far you are away from the camera - too far and you increase the chance of distractions in your surroundings; too close and you can appear a bit ‘full on’.

  • You want to make sure that it is stable and still - no one wants to be watching you and thinking you are on a boat from your nervous hand shaking!

  • Before the interview turn off the notifications on the device you are using - you don’t want emails or messages popping up in the corner of your screen that can possibly distract you/draw your attention for even a split second - TIME IS MONEY.

  • Also need to think about if the interviewers decide to share-screen for information on the vignette you need to be able to read it easily on the screen you are using.

  • Make sure you have a full charge - or even better (keep it on charge).

Our Advice:

Personally we would say to perform it on a laptop or desktop - the camera on them these days is good, they are already ‘stable’ to ensure your video remains still, and they have larger screens so that it is easy to read any vignette or scenario details they may provide you whilst sharing their screen. They tend to also have a better strength when connecting to Wi-Fi compared to phones; as well as being easier to be kept on charge and managing notification pop-ups (personal opinion I guess).

5. Video Inclusion

  • Be aware of how wide a camera angle your camera has, and therefore how much of your body is on show and how much of your surroundings are on show.

  • More surroundings on show can lead to more potential distractions; whilst being too close to the camera can be overbearing.

  • Also think about if you are a ‘fidgeter’ or someone who likes to use their hands a lot - this does not project well in a virtual setting and therefore it is best to keep those eager hands out of the field of view.

  • Think about the angle that your camera is pointing at, is it coming from an upward or downward angle?

Our Advice:

We advise that your camera should include all of your head, neck and the upper part of your torso - your head should be about 2-3cm from the top of the screen. For the ‘hand-movers’ out there, keep them on your knees/under your desk, so as to not cause distraction. To prevent too much background distraction we recommend having your head 2-3cm from the top of the screen as well as ensuring your camera is at eye level, taking out any angle on the camera - you may need to have your device sitting on something to help with this.

Thank you for taking the time to read, we hope that you found it useful and you can use these tips to finesse your virtual interview skills!

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