Q: I applied for a job in another city and had a virtual interview—which went all wrong. The video feed cut out, the sound quality wasn’t good, and everyone had a hard time connecting to the platform. I’m worried this has ruined my chances. What can I do to fix it?
A: I’m sorry to hear that technology let you down. The big question now is whose technology let you down—the company’s or your own? Was it your inexperience with video interviewing that failed? Or was the interviewer responsible for the tech snafu? Either way, the opportunity may still be salvaged. If not, you will have learned a valuable lesson for the future.
Even if all the issues were your fault, if you’re not interviewing for a job in video production or tech support, you may be able to apologize to the hiring manager and ask for a second chance. Explain that you recognize that the interview didn’t go well but that you are very interested in the opportunity and have the skills to contribute to the company’s success. You might get another chance, you might not, but there’s no harm in asking. If the issues were on their behalf, then it shouldn’t impact your chances at all—just recognize that they are probably frustrated with the tech issues, so show your willingness to work with them. Make it clear that you completely understand the situation, are sympathetic to the troubles they experienced, and are eager to try again. Whatever you can do to make life easier for them will help.
If the tech problems were their fault, is it a bad sign about the company or its employees? Not necessarily. Yes, it could convey that the organization isn’t comfortable with certain advanced technology or that they don’t have the kind of in-house support you might expect. But it could just as likely be the result of bad weather or a service outage that was completely outside of their control. Again, unless the company markets itself as a technological leader, a few glitches in their web conference platform shouldn’t sway your opinion of the organization in any way.
Virtual interviewing, both synchronous and asynchronous, is becoming more and more popular, so it will benefit any current job seeker to have some best practices locked down. Organizations don’t always want to pay for a candidate to travel or may have key interviewers in multiple locations, making a virtual meeting the more attractive, efficient choice. Whether you are speaking live with an interviewer or recording a response to be reviewed later, make sure you prepare appropriately, practice a few times, and have a backup plan in place for any issues that might arise. Learn the technology you will be using and practice on it first to ensure you know all the functions and how to troubleshoot any problems. Find a place to sit and position the camera appropriately, being mindful of the best angle and what’s pictured behind you. Prevent any untimely distractions by putting a sign on your doorbell, letting the dog out, and putting your phone on silent. And just as you would plan to arrive to an in-person interview early, sign on to the platform five minutes early, as well. Take whatever steps necessary to ensure a smooth process with no disturbances.
Tech problems can happen to anyone, so hopefully a second chance to make up the interview will happen for you. Remember to practice, prepare, and stage the video interview appropriately and always have a back-up plan at the ready in case things go awry again.