Being a fresh graduate coming from a top college in Manila during this unprecedented time has been difficult. Not only were classes in their final college semester suspended, but quarantines and the subsequent downsizing of companies have made it difficult for some to start their dream careers. There’s also a matter of a change in the hiring process from face-to-face interviews to online interviews.

Despite the situation, you always want to make a good impression during your online interview. After all, pairing an interesting resume with a fantastic interview significantly improves your chances of landing your dream job.

Here are a few tips you should keep in mind:

Do a test run

Depending on what platform your interviewer will be conducting the interview (Zoom, Skype, etc), do a test-run on the gadget that you’re planning to use. Download the needed software and sign up for an account if needed. Whether it is a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, check if the quality of the front camera is clear enough. Do an audio test with your gadget. For example, using earphones produces a much better sound quality and reduces feedback than using your computer’s built-in audio system. If your interviewer cannot hear you properly, it will leave a negative impression.

You may also consider doing a mock interview with a family member or friend using the same platform as your actual interview to familiarize yourself with the controls. Test run whether the audio and video works on your gadget to avoid any mishaps on your big day.

Prep the space you’ll be doing your interview in

The ambience of your interview space is crucial for a favorable first impression. Imagine what your interviewer will think if there is a barking dog, rowdy kids in your background, and/or a messy bed in your background. These are all distractions that take focus away from yourself and the words that you’ll be saying.

Choose a neutral and plain background and allow for at least a 3 feet distance between yourself and the background to avoid looking “flat” on the screen. Remember to turn all unnecessary gadgets to silent before the interview starts. Having ample lighting in your abode may be tricky but consider choosing as much natural light as possible. Avoid lighting that will cause shadows, any direct backlighting, and glare, especially if you are wearing glasses.

Be mentally prepared for possible interview questions

Like with any interview, prepare your answers for common interview questions such as: tell me something about yourself, what makes you a good candidate for this job, etc. Most colleges in the Philippines have a career services department that can help you prepare for this. A quick Google search can also help you find good answers to common difficult questions. It is also good to have a few job-specific questions to ask the interviewer on hand.

Have a back-up plan

There is nothing worse than looking flustered in front of your interviewer when something does not go as planned. It is wise to prepare a back-up gadget should your primary one not work on the big day. Make sure to confirm your interview schedule with the interviewer and have a set of extra earphones ready at hand.

Dress for the job

When it comes to dressing for your interview, choose professional clothing that is neither too flashy or too drab. Stick to solid colors as bold prints and swirly patterns may not register well on the screen. It is also wise to research about what kind of dress code that the industry you’re interviewing for uses. Even if you’re told that wearing casual clothes are okay to wear to the interview since everyone is at home, dress to impress anyway. Remember: it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.

Remember that the interview is a professional conversation

Most likely, your interviewer wants to get to know if you are a great fit for the job. As such, present your best self by being at ease and responding to the questions in a conversational tone that is neither too stiff nor too lax.

Mind your nonverbals

Like an actual face-to-face interview, maintaining solid eye contact, smiling when appropriate, and having good posture are good practices that leave a favorable first impression with the interviewer. Avoid body language that makes you seem unsure of yourself.

Thank the interviewer for their time

When your interview is over, be sure to thank the interviewer for taking the time to talk to you and express your enthusiasm in hearing back from them. In some ways, an online interview is much more difficult and time-consuming for interviewers than a simple face-to-face interview. Even a simple thank you and showing excitement about the possibility of working with their company can really leave a strong last impression on your interviewer and can help them feel like the effort was worth it.