10 Virtual Interview Tips: How to Prepare

June 11, 2020

Source: Ekaterina Bolovtsova/Pexels

Remote screening assessments have become more common: How should you prepare for a virtual interview?

Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures, many industries are hiring online. According to research by Handshake, 89% of employers are conducting their job interviews online.

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

What is a Virtual Interview?

A virtual interview, or video interview, is a digital method that enables remote assessment and screening of candidates. They are often used as a first stage screening method, although their use accelerated as more firms went remote during 2020.

Sometimes they are conducted by telephone but they mostly take place using video conferencing software. Common platforms for remote interviews include Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Hinterview.

Often, virtual interviewing will be conducted like a traditional interview. However, interviewing by video requires more thought about body language, facial expressions and non-verbal communication. These are harder to convey and interpret than during a face-to-face interview.

If you’ve got an online assessment coming up and want to make sure you leave a good first impression, read on. We’ve got plenty of virtual interview tips, from preparing your technology to communicating confidently. 

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Here's a summary of the key areas to prepare for your video 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, reviewing the job description, planning your answers as best you can and so on. But there’s a little more to think about when it comes to virtual meetings. 

The last thing you want is for your internet to cut out halfway through. Or to realise half an hour beforehand that you don’t have the right technology to join the meeting. 

Don’t forget to check you have a reliable internet connection and make sure your camera and microphone are working properly. 

Familiarise yourself with the technology your interviewer is using ahead of time. What interview platform will they be using? Is it an MS Teams 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 location 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!

If you don't have access to a dedicated office space you can still adapt. 

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. Some interview platforms give the option to choose an alternative background or blur yours out.

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. 

During your interview, you probably won’t have many opportunities to mute your microphone as you’ll be answering a lot of questions.

Though it’s not always possible to limit distractions and remove external noises entirely, there are some steps you can take to ensure your room is as quiet as possible. 

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 

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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.

Honing your interpersonal skills can help you build a personal connection with the interviewer.


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, when fielding virtual interview questions, 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 your online job interview exactly as you would if you were meeting the hiring manager in person. 

You might feel more comfortable in the clothes you wear while working at home. But, wearing smart attire will put you in the right mindset for an interview.

This makes it easier to separate between your at-home and at-work personas. Consider items such as blazers, button-down shirts or blouses and smart trousers or skirts. 

If you are not sure what to wear, you can check the company website to get an understanding of their work attire. Some firms may be more business casual. Others will be completely dressed down, with hoodies and baseball caps common at some tech companies.


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

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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: Project a 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. 


Takeaway - virtual interviewing is here to stay

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 video 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! 

For more tips on finding a job, check out our jobseekers' guide.


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This post was written by: Manuela Araujo, Delivery Consultant