Virtual and In-Person Interviews: A Comparison

With the world now opening up and returning to our new normal there is a large cohort of talent who have been in their first roles for up to 2 years. Their first roles they got via a virtual interview and now, re-entering the jobs market, the landscape has changed and our candidates are now facing a new experience, face to face interviews!

As you’ll know if you have interviewed, this is a key part of any application. They allow you to not only meet your potential managers but also to get to know the position and company better – this is as much an interview for you as it is for the interviewers.

Meeting people virtually, in a professional or even recreational context, has essentially become common practice after the Covid pandemic. Platforms such as Teams, Zoom or Google Meets continue to remain the first means by which people make initial contact. The same goes for candidates and interviewers. More often than not, we are seeing first-stage interviews continuing to be conducted virtually with the likelihood of the second one taking place in person in the hiring company’s office.

With face to face interviews on the rise, we wanted to share some fresh advice on how best to approach a face to face interview and, to start with, here are some thoughts on the benefits of each style:

In-person:

  • You can get to know your interviewers quickly – that moment of “small talk” can go a long way, whether it is with one of your interviewers just before or with the receptionist at the lobby you are waiting in, this can help ease any nerves. Every interaction counts so make sure to be at your best from the moment you arrive and stay professional until you are safely off the premises! So many candidates are so relieved to leave the interview room they forget themselves on the walk back to the exit and the goodbye needs to be as strong and professional as the greeting.
  • For many, being within a meeting room or office can help put you in that “interview mentality”, with mind-set wired and ready for the interviewers’ questions.
  • Being immersed in your potential future office: in-person interviews are a fantastic chance to get a feel for the office, its atmosphere, structure and even perks.
  • Body Language is a major tool for you during face to face interviews as it accounts for over half of all communication. Maximise that opportunity by showing, as well as telling, your enthusiasm and engagement for the role.

Virtual

In many ways, the virtual interview can offer many strategic advantages in its own right, just make sure to not get too caught up in the extra access of information!

  • Convenience: virtual interviews can be scheduled into people’s diaries much easier than physical ones, given the lack of need to travel anywhere. This means they are more financially economical for people as well. Overall, this could potentially allow more time to prepare and make room for any necessary flexibility for candidates with their own personal commitments. In its own way, these interviews can help set you at ease in the increased flexibility they offer.
  • Resources: You’re able to easily have a notepad and pen nearby to jot down anything you hear during the interview and you would like to ask about later. Additionally, you can set up post-it notes at eye-level to offer some prompts for yourself whilst answering your questions (such as the guide “STAR (Situation Task Action Result), or key skills (project management, communication, organisation)

 

Keeping the above in mind, it is always worth preparing slightly different for both settings, despite the content of the discussion being essentially the same.

Preparing for an Interview – a breakdown:

In-person

  • Plan your route: make sure to check any traffic updates, potential delays or alternative means of travel, giving yourself plenty of time to get there and leaving around at least half an hour of cushion time before the start of the interview
  • Depending on how you are getting there, you could bring a hard copy of your CV, cover letter and the job description with you, perhaps in a file, to help consolidate your preparation
  • Feel free to accept any glass of water offered – this will help not only to stay hydrated but also to help gather your thoughts on any questions which may require more consideration

Virtual

  • Check your WiFi connectivity and that it is strong. This will be important to show that potentially, you would easily be able to work remotely or on a hybrid working pattern effectively.
  • Make sure to be in a room with no distraction, including loud noises or pets. Try and inform anyone sharing your residence of your interview so that they may stay quiet.
  • You will want to come across as professional and your background should reflect as such, keeping it plain or on the Blur setting of your platform if possible.
  • It may be worth having a copy of your CV and the job description nearby and even highlighted to signal to you the key points and where they match to your experience
  • Equally, set aside a glass of water for yourself

Both:

  • Research the company and its products – this you will have done for your cover letter but now it is more important to show your engagement with the most recent developments, trends and publications the client has been involved with. Think about the projects, deals or titles that have struck you, whether it is a personal interest or something you impressed by on a professional basis
  • Look up your interviewers, at Inspired Selection, we inform you on the interviewers and their occupations at each stage. This is a great chance to look them up online and see their profiles to familiarise yourself with their work and their career history. Whether online or in person, engage with all interviewers with enthusiasm and eye contact.
  • Prepare at least 4-5 questions to put to your interviewers – this is your chance to query anything you wanted to gain more clarity on (team structure, the daily remit etc.) or even you wanted to know about the interviewers themselves (maybe use that research you did on them…)
  • Be ever mindful of your body language, for both virtual and face-to-face. Convey your enthusiasm not only through what you are saying but also in your engagement with your interviews, showcasing an evident excitement about the role.
  • Give yourself a time to let all your hard work and preparation sink in and find some time to sit with a tea or water so you can have somewhat of a break half an hour before the start of your interview; this is also good to help any nerves.
  • Organise it that you leave at least an hour for the duration of the interview, as it may last this long
  • Last but not least, dress presentably but in something you are comfortable in. Interviews are the case where first impressions do matter so put your best foot forward by getting smartly dressed to switch on your interview mind-set. This is equally important whether it is virtual or in-person.

At Inspired Selection, we organise a range of interview formats and we are there to help to prepare you for them to the best of our ability, utilising our own knowledge of the relevant sector and of our clients. Just as keen as we are to talk you through interview preparation, we equally look forward to hearing how your interview went!