10 Tips for Preparing Your Virtual Interview

Virtual job interviews have become more common: How should you prepare?

Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures, many industries are hiring online.

However, pitching yourself as a candidate via video conference can be just as daunting as interviewing face to face. If not more so!

If you’ve got a virtual interview coming up and want to make sure you leave a good first impression, read on.

Here’s a summary of the key areas to prepare for your virtual interview: 

  1. Prepare and test your technology
  2. Find a quiet space with minimal distractions
  3. Do your homework
  4. Look out for communication cues
  5. Keep your answers simple
  6. Communicate confidence
  7. Dress for an in-person interview
  8. Show that you can fit in with their company culture
  9. Project a positive attitude
  10. Try not to interrupt the interviewer

Tip 1: Prepare and test your technology

When you’re getting ready for a face to face job interview, you only need to prepare yourself. Researching the company, planning your answers as best you can and so on. But there’s a little more to think about when it comes to virtual interviews.

Don’t forget to check your internet connectivity and make sure your camera and microphone are working properly.

Familiarise yourself with the technology your interviewer is using ahead of time. Is it a skype interview, a zoom call or a google hangout? Find out in advance so that you fully understand how to use it when the interview comes around.

Tip 2: Find a quiet space with minimal distractions

The interviewer is there to see and listen to you, so don’t give them any chances to be distracted by anything in the background!

Set yourself up in a room with good lighting (it helps to sit next to or close to a window) so that you can be seen clearly on the computer screen.

Sitting in front of a blank wall will guarantee that you’re the main point of the conversation. While potential employers won’t judge you based on what your home looks like, it will be harder to convince them you have great organisational skills if you present yourself in an untidy corner of the room.

If you live with family members or roommates, let them know what’s happening so they don’t interrupt in the middle of your interview, or make any unnecessary noise. It’s also a good idea to close windows to eliminate noises from outside, such as traffic or barking dogs.

Tip 3: Do your homework

Prepare for the job interview exactly as you would when meeting the hiring manager in person.

It might be tempting to search the web for answers mid-interview. But if you’re seen to be clicking around, it might give the impression that you’re not focused on the interviewer.

Be ready to answer any common interview questions without needing to use the internet.

Tip 4: Look out for communication cues

As well as paying close attention to what your potential employer is asking you, you should also try to pick up any communication cues they exude.

For example, don’t be afraid to subtly copy their level of energy or the volume and tone of their voice. This can create a positive first impression by reflecting your ability to adapt.

Tip 5: Keep your answers simple

As with any interview, try to keep your answers simple and to the point. When you’re on a video call, pauses in conversation can feel awkward and unnatural, so it can be tempting to fill the silence with chatter.

However, it’s likely that your interviewer will simply be processing your answer during the natural lapses. If the question doesn’t warrant it, don’t feel like you need to give a long, drawn out explanation. Being able to respond in a clear, concise manner is an important skill and will stand you in good stead during the interview.

Tip 6: Communicate confidence

It’s natural to feel nervous during an important interview, but try to communicate confidence as best you can. One way of achieving this is through your body language.

To appear as confident as possible, smile, sit up straight, and make sure the camera level with your eyes.

Of course, during a virtual interview, you’re not looking directly into the interviewer’s eye. Instead, it can be tempting to look at their image on the screen when you’re talking, so that you can gauge their reactions.

Instead, try to keep your focus on the camera so that it appears that you’re giving eye contact, as this will help you to come across as confident and composed.

Tip 7: Dress for an in-person interview

Treat this job interview exactly as you would if you were meeting the hiring manager in person.

Tip 8: Show that you can fit in with their company culture

A key task for recruiters is determining whether you would fit into the hiring company’s culture, but this can be challenging in a virtual setting.

Do your research before the interview to make sure you’re clear on what the company values are, and make sure you’re expressive when answering questions.

This will make it easier for the hiring manager to understand your enthusiasm and passion for the company.

Tip 9: Positive attitude

Promoting a positive attitude is paramount for showing that you can fit into a company’s culture.

Avoid speaking negatively about your past employers or any of the less exciting aspects of your previous jobs. The interviewer will already know you’re leaving for a reason, so there’s no need to be overly negative.

If you have any genuine good feelings about your current or previous position, speak openly about these. This will show respect and reflect your enthusiasm for work.

Tip 10: Try not to interrupt the interviewer

It’s sometimes difficult to gauge when another person has finished speaking on a video call, so awkward interruptions take place.

Since you cannot read any visual cues, be mindful of talking over your interviewer.

Pause for a moment before answering questions. This will give you the opportunity to ensure they’ve finished speaking and will give you a moment to frame your answer as well.

In conclusion

The key takeaway here is that, during a virtual job interview, you should always conduct yourself in the same way you would in a face to face meeting.

Plan, prepare and be confident and positive. 

It’s also important to make sure the room you’re interviewing in is quiet and free of distractions so that the interviewer only needs to focus on you. Follow these tips and you’re sure to make a great first impression.

Good luck in your interview!

Sam Nicholson
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