The October JCST newsletter highlighted that the 2021 specialty selection interviews will be conducted online via Microsoft Teams.

Online interviews can really be the best of both worlds — you still get face-to-face time with an employer while cutting travel out of the equation. And while mastering the interview is a common practice, etiquette surrounding a MS Teams online interview is different from both in-person and phone interviews. Here are 13 tips to help you rock an online interview.

1. Look at the camera, not the screen.

It is very tempting to watch yourself or your interviewer during a MS Teams session, but looking directly at the video camera is the only way to maintain direct eye contact with your interviewer.

2. Dress the part.

When it comes to what you wear, treat your online interview like an in-person interview and dress professionally from head to toe (or at least from head to waist!). A professional dress code with video interviews is expected, not excused.

3. Prepare your surroundings.

Pick a quiet place to interview without an elaborate backdrop so that you can be the focal point on the screen. Remove anything distracting behind you and keep it neutral.

4. Practice makes perfect.

Doing a run through interview with a friend beforehand is helpful because your first few MS Teams calls are likely to feel awkward, especially if you have to retrain yourself to watch the camera and not the screen. Play around with everything beforehand so that when it's interview time, you can shine without being distracted by the program.

5. Close other programs on your computer.

Getting Facebook notifications during your interview is distracting and unprofessional. Before your interview, make sure all other windows on your computer are closed (especially if they make noise).

6. Use notes.

Don't be afraid to help yourself with post-it notes or a copy of your resume handy when you interview. A benefit of having a MS Teams interview is that you can have a cheat sheet in front of you so that you don't have to memorize everything you want to mention.

7. But don't rely too much on your notes.

Just make sure your notes are easily scannable so that you use them as quick reminders, not a script. While having notes is certainly a plus, relying too heavily on them can cause awkward pauses during your interview. An interviewer won't be impressed if they only see the top of your head during the interview, so while having notes is good, be sure to use them sparingly.

8. Avoid interruptions.

If you are interviewing in a house with multiple people or pets, be sure to let everyone in the house know ahead of time that you will be in an interview while securing any animals away from your interview space. Nothing is less professional than having to tell your potential employer to hang on while you shoo your dog away from the camera.

9. Keep your profile professional.

Unlike an in-person or phone interview, your first impression during a Skype interview doesn't actually involve you. The first thing your interviewer will see is your MS Teams username and picture, so double check that they are both interview appropriate (or create a professional MS Teams account — after all, they're free!)

10. Watch your body language.

Not all physical cues translate from in-person interviews to online interviews, which make the ones that do even more important. Be sure to have good posture and relax your shoulders to avoid stiffness.

11. Avoid a "Can you hear me now?" situation

Nothing is more frustrating than only catching every other word a person is saying, so be sure to tweak the MS Teams audio ahead of time to make sure you can both hear and be heard without difficulty.

12. Make sure the interviewer is engaged.

Stop every once in awhile and make sure your interviewer is engaged in what you are saying. Being aware of the interest level of your interviewer is crucial in a MS Teams interview since they may have interesting e-mails pop up that direct attention away from you.

The single interview offers less chance to differentiate between candidates and more chance for an error to affect your overall score. Online technique is also very different from in-person. 

At OI we have updated our award-winning Knowledge Course to focus on online technique in addition to all of the core clinical, motivational and situational knowledge required.

We have also moved our Mock Interview Course online for 2021 and will be providing candidates with 3 hour long 1-1 personalised mock interviews before the 2021 online interview to ensure you gain the most points possible and get your first choice job.