How to Improve Your Impact in Virtual Interviewing and Meetings
How does your voice brand you during virtual meetings and interviews? One simple way to evaluate your own voice and improve your virtual presence is at your fingertips — the “memo” app on your iPhone or Android device.
Eleven million conference calls are made each day in the United States, and virtual interviews are on the rise. It is imperative to examine how you present yourself in the virtual environment. You may appear to be less intelligent or more immature than you realize. We are deaf to many of our own poor speaking habits and speech patterns, and you may be diminishing your impact and chance of progressing to a live interview, or you may be dismissed by colleagues due to distracting habits. Do you own research. Ask some of your colleagues, a mentor, or senior leaders in your organization about the most distracting things they encounter while conducting virtual interviews or attending conference calls.
Salary.com provides eight simple steps to acing a virtual interview. Included in these steps are preparing and testing technology, dressing for success, and cleaning up your environment. I suggest adding a ninth step: Practice answering common interview questions while recording your answers using the “memo” app on the iPhone. Your speech habits, which may be unnoticeable to you, may cause others to perceive you as dingy, less professional, or unfit for a position that requires good communication skills.
The results of listening to yourself speak will be improved virtual confidence and impact. Not only will you improve your interviewing skills, but you will increase your ability to lead more effective conference calls by removing distracting speech habits and increasing your contribution to your organization.
Record Your Answers
A good interview question to start with is “walk me through your resume.” Find a quiet space, and answer the question while speaking into your phone. Replay the recording. Do you like what you hear? (You probably will cringe the first time you listen, but don’t stop!) Record the same answer several times. Your responses will vary and improve the more times you go through the process; save the answer you like the best. Then, type a script from your recording and refine your response. Over time you can continually refine and build upon your answers.
Listen to Your Answers
A few things to evaluate:
- Cadence: It can difficult to understand people in virtual settings; speak slowly and clearly, but be mindful of not being too monotone.
- Tone: Fluctuations in tone help to hold people’s attention. This is important when you are competing for attention with Facebook and the constant flood of e-mails.
- Speech Habits: Are you displaying unprofessional speaking habits or using phrases that undermine what you are saying? One speech habit common to females is ending a sentence with an upward inflection, known as “uptalk.” This speech pattern negates the response and imparts a question-like sound to statements. Instead, display confidence in what you are saying.
- Impact: Did the answer make logical sense? Is it succinct? Can you shorten your response but maintain the impact of your answer? A long, rambling answer is a sure way to lose the interest of your interviewer or conference call attendees.
Once you complete a recording you approve of, save it!
Save Your Responses
While improving your virtual voice impact, you are creating a library of exceptional responses to interview questions. This growing list can be utilized in several ways. You can replay your responses while dressing, cooking, or cleaning to continually improve the response and engrain the response in your memory. Save your recordings and refer back to the list for interviews in months or years to come. The memo app allows you to share the recording; share a recording with your mentor and ask for feedback on your answers. You may even ask your mentor to provide direct feedback to you on your virtual presence.
As I suggest above, save the scripts you compose for the commonly asked interview questions. If you tend to get flustered during an interview, keep your notes visible to you: Pin your script to the wall behind your camera or on your desk. If stumped on a question or you find yourself rambling, refer back to your script. It is better to request a moment from the interviewer to review notes than to continue speaking without relaying anything of value about the topic being discussed.
The Next Level
If this exercise reveals significant distracting speech patterns, or even if it does not, consider recording a conference call you lead (with the permission of the attendees). It may be painful to hear your voice, but increasing virtual skills is essential in the current virtual world of work.12