You answered all the screening questions right, named your resume with the right convention, and you’re opening the webcam three minutes before the Skype call for your dream job interview. Suddenly, you realize you haven’t shaved in two weeks, there’s a pile of your clothes on the floor, the back of your door has a poster with monkey smoking a joint on it, and your “nice” blue shirt has yellow mustard stains all over it. Being an online professional is fantastic, until your bedroom and home office collide.

To avoid getting caught in the home-professional trap, here are ten ways to prepare for an online job interview.

Clean your room

Seriously. Do it. It’s the easiest thing on this list, and it’s the easiest way to look unprofessional if you don’t.

Look presentable

Take a shower, style your hair, iron a clean, non-mustard-stained shirt. You can wear your pajama bottoms if you want, just make sure your top half is your best half.

Test your camera and microphone the day before

The best thing about technology is it always works, right? Wrong. It can sense desperation, and pounce on it. Check your equipment before you use it and troubleshoot any problems well ahead of call time.

Plan your interview background

If you don’t end up using your room for your interview (you should still clean it!), make sure you have a presentable background – a neutral and non-distracting wall is best. And whatever you do, don’t have a window behind you.

Make sure you’re lit well

You want to have a good light source shining on you from ahead and above you at roughly a 45-degree angle – this will light your face up best and make the image as sharp as possible in the webcam.

Sit up straight

Goes without saying but it needs to be said. With proper posture you will speak more  clearly while looking and sounding more confident.

If possible, stand up

Standing when speaking is a personal preference of mine; it forces you into a more confident position. If you’re able to raise your webcam, you’ll still look just like you’re sitting.

Have a list of questions prepared

A good listener asks good questions, a smart listener has some prepared ahead of time. Asking a potential employer relevant questions about the job is a great way to show both your interest in the job and what you value in an employer.

Tell your housemates you’re doing it

The last thing you want is the sound of your roommate’s video games, bedroom American Idol Audition, or biannual vacuuming in the background. Tell your housemates you’ve got an important call and you need some peace and quiet.

Eat well before you start

Finally, don’t forget to take care of yourself before the interview starts. Eat a filling meal, don’t drink coffee if it gives you anxiety, and have something you truly enjoy. Put yourself in the best mood you can before you start, it will show.

By Matthew Curtis, Fourth-Year Journalism, Carleton

For more articles, see CUOL’s story archive.

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