One of the biggest changes in the world of science recruitment in recent years - indeed, in any recruitment field - has been the rise of the virtual interview.

Virtual interviews can be defined as "any form of interview that uses information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as email, discussion board, real-time chat or video chat system such as Skype."

While many of the usual principles of how to handle a job interview also apply for a virtual interview, the latter also comes with certain distinctive challenges - so don't forget the below advice when faced with one.

Get comfortable with the technology

Particularly when you are being interviewed for more technical science jobs, it is important to get the associated technology in order and not appear overawed or intimidated by it - any attempted small-talk about how weird it is to be interviewed 'virtually' is likely to create the wrong impression.

If technical issues do occur - as can happen with even the best preparation - respond in a professional way, asking the interviewer to repeat the question if necessary and politely asking if you can disconnect and reconnect if the problem is persistent.

Also keep signalling acknowledgement - such as by saying "yes" or "hmm" or nodding the head - so that the interviewer is in no doubt that you can hear them.

Project the most professional impression

There are so many issues of professional presentation or lack thereof that can arise in a virtual interview if you do not thoroughly and suitably prepare.

Dress remains as important in a virtual interview as it does in a face-to-face one. Indeed, with one recent study suggesting that simply wearing a suit affects the way you think, it is advisable to dress smartly even for a phone interview.

Other presentation issues that can arise during a virtual interview include your cat walking into the shot, unmade bedding in the background, harsh lighting or an unflattering camera angle - again, all problems that need to be ironed out in the preparation rather than during the interview itself.

Be sure to adopt the right interview manner

In all of your anxiety to project the desired impression of a competent candidate, it can be easy to forget such apparent basics as actually looking into the camera rather than your image on the screen, keeping a straight posture and being subtle in reference to any notes that you have placed nearby to aid you.

Remember, too, not to over-rehearse - in a virtual interview as much as in a 'real' one, a natural manner can go a long way to making you a more engaging interviewee.

There are so many other important things to keep in mind when being interviewed 'virtually', from choosing a professional username if this is required for any videoconferencing technology you use, to keeping a printout of your CV and other key documentation nearby.

If there's one thing that definitely applies to virtual interviews as much as it does to 'normal' in-person interviews, it is the great importance of preparation - so never underestimate it if you are called to such an interview by a recruitment agency. 

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