We had the privilege of interviewing the Head of Finance, Scott Darby from Phipps Cameron about online interviews. We have seen a vast increase in online interviews during the pandemic, so we wanted to hear his thoughts on the topic. Scott Darby has been at Phipps Cameron for over six years and specialises in finance roles for retail and FMCG businesses.

How can you stand out in an online interview? 

The way you would approach a face-to-face interview should be the same for an online interview. Your approach to an interview whether that be on the phone, video or in person should not change. The reason I say this is because hiring managers will effectively still ask you the same questions they would have in person.

So just like you would do with a face-to-face interview, you should thoroughly prepare and do some background research on the business. Make sure to display your enthusiasm and show interest in the role. Even though it’s online, you can still show your true personality by how you answer their questions.

If you’re still nervous about your online interview, I would suggest you contact your recruiter and ask them if they have any insight on what to expect in the interview. Remember to keep it simple and don’t over complicate it and have the same approach you would to a face-to-face interview.

What should you avoid doing during an online interview? 

For an online interview, you should try to avoid any background noise. The less noise the more likely you are to be engaged with the interviewer and not get distracted. I get that this can be a challenge for some people because they might have children at home. However if you can get a family member or a friend to help you with the little ones, then do that. It will make your online interview go more smoothly and enable you to focus on the job in hand!

What advice would you give to someone doing an online interview for the first time? 

My advice would be to check that you have good internet connection and that you know how to use the platform (zoom, google hangouts) for your interview. I would recommend that the interviewee test the platform, especially if they’ve not used it before. Remember to download the platform beforehand and do a test run with a friend to check it works. The last thing you want to do is be rushing and getting flustered, other than that, it’s the same as an in person interview!

How should you dress for an online interview? 

I recruit roles for the retail and FMCG sector, so it is usually acceptable to wear semi-smart attire. If you’re unsure on what to wear, then ask your recruiter. From experience, recruiters and businesses give candidates a dress code prior to the interview.  If you’re still not sure, then I say it is better to go over dressed then underdressed. I always tell my candidates you can’t make a first impression twice so why not dust the suit off!

How are online interviews conducted?

Over the last six months, online interviews have been conducted in a similar way. It usually consists of general chat at the beginning and then an introduction of the business. Followed by questions about your CV and competency-based questions to see if you’re a perfect fit for the role you’ve applied for.

Sometimes if the interview has gone well, you might get a greeting from the head of department. This helps the interviewer get a second opinion of you.

What are the benefits of doing online interviews? 

There are different benefits to online interviews. Here are the ones I thought were important to talk about:

Time: You can’t be late for an online interview because you don’t need to commute anywhere
Resources: No need to book a room or offer refreshments
Less Pressure:  Video interviews allow them to be more relaxed, while they are at home, and answer all the questions in a familiar environment.

How do online interviews differ from in person interviews?

I think the main difference between an online interview and a face-to-face interview is that the candidate cannot get a real feel of what the office is like. Most of the organisations I support have an amazing head office and when you go into the office it further supports why you should work for them. The whole feel of the place is brilliant, it’s very buzzy and fast-paced and has good transport links. You can’t get that experience from an online interview. My advice to organisations is to do video tours of the office. They should share their office tour with candidates, so they can get an idea of what it looks like to work there.