8 tips for staying focused in an online interview
Staying focused during an interview not only allows you to give the right answers and sound confident during the interview, but also helps the recruiter listen properly to your answers.
Anything that distracts you also steals the attention your recruiter should give to your answers, which can impact the final hiring decision. Plus, it makes you look unprofessional to the hiring manager. So, let’s discuss the 8 best ways to stay focused during an interview and how to prevent such a thing from happening.
1. Check and fix background distractions
The first thing to check before an interview is common and unavoidable distractions at home – family members talking loudly in the hallway, your pets or toddler entering your room during the call, noise television, etc. To prevent this from happening:
- Consider letting everyone know that you are going to have an interview and at what time.
- Make sure your background is a distraction-free zone for you and the interviewer. So blur your background and have someone stop any minors from entering your room.
2. Silence notifications
You may need your phone during the interview, so it’s a bad idea to turn it off completely. But to prevent this from becoming a distraction, put your device in Do Not Disturb mode. It will silence all incoming calls and other notifications. Additionally, notifications may also appear on your desktop, for example, a new email or a Slack message from your colleague. So shut them up too.
One of the best ways to stay focused on something is to give it your full attention. And that’s impossible if something’s going on in the back of your mind. Therefore, if you avoid checking your emails or messages right before the interview, it can help you keep a clear head and stay focused during the interview.
3. Review your notes
Nowadays, most recruiters ask different types of questions to test the candidate and understand if he can be a good candidate for his team.
To prepare for this situation, consider keeping clues for these answers right in front of you, such as anything you found important about the company that might be helpful, your strengths and weaknesses, or any other type question they might ask like, tell us about a time you had to work with a difficult person.
A desktop application like Microsoft OneNote can be very helpful in this case. Or you can stick post-its on your laptop with clues written in large print.
4. Test your technology
Another key thing to note is that your system is working properly and there are no last minute issues that are freaking you out or wasting your time with the hiring manager. Therefore, consider the following:
- Test your headset and microphone beforehand. Make sure you hear clearly and don’t ask the interviewer to repeat a question multiple times.
- Use noise canceling headphones for better communication and to show professionalism.
- Make sure your camera is working. Repair your Zoom camera, if not.
- Check the lighting in the room. Make sure the light source is in front of you and the recruiter can see you clearly. Consider using a cool light rather than a warm light for the call, as it’s brighter and gives a clean look.
- Make sure your laptop is fully charged. If this is not the case, remember to plug it in before the interview. Excusing yourself during the interview to put him in charge and make the interviewer wait is unprofessional.
5. Run an Internet Speed Test
Before attending the call, do a speed test. If your network is poor, it will affect your communication.
- To do this, do a quick Google search for “internet speed test” and run it.
- Ask people in your home or roommates to stop using Wi-Fi until you’re online.
- Keep an alternative, like cellular data or LAN cable, ready for the Internet in case your Wi-Fi stops working in the middle for some reason.
6. Familiarize yourself with the application used for the interview
It is essential to know all the important features of the application or technology with which you are invited to attend the interview. For example, if you’ve always used Google Meet for your meetings and the recruiter gives you a link to a Zoom meeting, consider doing a quick search on how Zoom meetings work.
You can also make a practice Zoom call with a friend to familiarize yourself with this one. If you spend time figuring out how to perform an action (like screen sharing) on this tool during the interview, you shift your focus from the interview to the technology used for the call. In the meantime, it wastes your time, not to mention a bit of confidence too.
7. Close all other tabs
If you’re like any other person, you may also have multiple tabs open on your laptop. Now, even though it’s rare, the recruiter may ask you to research something online, or you may need to show them something. In this case, it is essential that your browser is clean and no extra tabs are open to get distracted and delay the given task.
8. Fix camera and window placement
It is known that the first step in establishing trust with the recruiter is to make eye contact. And to do that in an online interview, you’ll have to look at the camera. However, you might be tempted to stare at the on-screen hiring manager while speaking. Additionally, if you have kept the view in side-by-side mode, you can also look at yourself.
All of this can distract you from the real action – staring at the camera. So remember to adjust your windows near the camera. This will save you from constantly switching between the recruiter’s face on the screen and the webcam. Also, keep the recruiter in fullscreen mode. This will help you avoid the temptation to stare at yourself.
Give an interview without distraction
With the rise of remote jobs, virtual interviews are going to be part of the recruitment process for a long time. Therefore, it is a good idea to learn the few tips we talked about in the article. Staying focused during an interview can help you appear confident during the meeting and show your interviewer that you’re a professional.
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