Diana Schnetgöke


Tips and tricks for a successful virtual interview

“Thank you for your application. We would be delighted to get to know you personally in a video interview soon.” Most invitations to attend an interview this year have said this or something similar. The Covid-19 pandemic still has the world on tenterhooks and has also changed application and recruitment processes forever: digital interviews are now the standard for us too. But what do you need to bear in mind for a virtual interview? How do you make a good impression? What should you absolutely avoid? I asked Charles-André, a recruiter specializing in IT positions. You can find all the answers here in the interview. 

In your role as a recruiter, every day you work with applicants, moderate interviews, and advise hiring managers on the best way to search for suitable candidates. To what extent has your job changed thanks to the coronavirus?

Charles-André: "The coronavirus has changed my day-to-day work significantly: since March I’ve only been in contact with my colleagues through virtual means and while our interviews and assessments centers were largely held face-to-face before, these are all carried out entirely virtually now in the new normal. The recruiting team adapted ourselves to the new conditions extremely quickly and managed to digitize the entire recruitment process overnight." 

Woman sitting in front of the computer in video interviews

Important tips to be well prepared for the interview.

How does the application process at Deutsche Telekom work in the new normal and what is different when compared to face-to-face interviews? 

Charles-André: "The entire application process is now 100 percent virtual. In most cases the applicant is invited to a video interview after a short phone call. This has many advantages – digital interviews can be arranged and carried out more quickly since it is easier to coordinate the schedules of all those involved and requests and specific times can be better accounted for. In addition, a team member can easily join the recruiter and hiring manager to take part in the virtual interview. This is a great chance for the candidate to get to know their future colleagues straight away."

What tips would you like to pass on to our applicants: what is the best way to prepare yourself for a virtual job interview?

Charles-André: "First, my advice would be to treat a digital interview just as you would a face-to-face one: applicants should have a presence on the main business social media platforms (e.g., LinkedIn) so they can familiarize themselves with the interviewers and their CVs in advance – this can be a valuable point of connection for the interview. You should, of course, prepare yourself by reading up on things such as the Group, our corporate values, or topics which are currently of relevance to Deutsche Telekom. You can also find helpful information on the individual fields of activity and teams here; all important information concerning the position is included in the job posting. In addition, it is important to be aware of the experience you bring to the table, which interfaces are involved in the job, and try to remain true to yourself during the interview and not pretend to be someone else." 

What should applicants be aware of in terms of technology?

Charles-André: "Applicants should pay attention to their appearance: sweatpants and comfy hoodies should remain in the closet for the interview. Instead, a well-groomed appearance and outfit which is in keeping with the company or corporate culture is a definite plus in a virtual interview. At Deutsche Telekom we rarely wear suits and shirts, preferring to dress smart-casual instead."
Secondly, I would recommend using a good camera, ideally a USB camera or your laptop’s built-in camera –no cell phone cameras! When getting set-up, it is important to make sure your camera is in line with your eyes. This means all those involved in the interview get the feeling that they are meeting you on an equal footing. I would also recommend you avoid using a virtual background; they are distracting and seem unprofessional. It is also worth being aware of the lighting: the light should ideally come from below and in front. You can test out the set-up beforehand by video calling friends or family members.

Thirdly: the sound is pivotal for a successful interview! I recommend using a USB headset; ear buds seem unprofessional in this special interview situation. Ambient noise should be kept to a minimum, e.g., by keeping the window closed throughout the interview. It is also advisable to warn roommates, partners, or family members that they should not bother you for the next hour. We have, of course, experienced surprising interruptions like this ourselves... 😉 

What should you absolutely avoid during an online interview? 

Charles-André: "As a general rule: anything that could serve as a distraction should be removed from view! This means that your surroundings or the background that we can see should be clean and tidy. No posters, no vacation photos, no board games, no large plants. These all just distract from the candidate and their expertise. It is also more pleasant for all those taking part if the people who are not currently speaking mute themselves temporarily. This helps avoid loud breathing into the microphone, which can be very annoying. To finish, one more good tip which could make a huge difference: do not drink out of a water bottle during the interview – use a glass! This sounds like a minor thing but can make all the difference for your interviewers."

Thanks, Charles-André, for your helpful insights! 

If you would like to learn more about working at Deutsche Telekom during the coronavirus crisis, feel free to have a look here.  

Charles-André Martin

Charles-André Martin has been part of the Magenta team since January 2018. His professional career began with his work as a headhunter in an international agency. He then worked for a number of years as a recruiter for a large German industrial company. Charles-André has already recruited staff for many different units, such as the IoT unit at T-Systems and Deutsche Telekom IT. He is now mainly on the search for talents with niche profiles such as DevOps engineers, network architects, and software developers.