How to master the virtual interview
As technology has improved and more people are working remotely, virtual interviews are more prevalent than ever—and job hunters need to be prepared to complete them with the same level of professionalism and polish expected of any other job candidate in any other interview scenario.
What is a virtual interview?
There are two main types of virtual interviews: video calls and online prerecorded interviews. Video calls are live interviews done through conferencing programs like Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts. Prerecorded interviews are exactly what they sound like: they’re sessions where you’re given recorded questions from the company, and you record and submit video responses.
This article will provide a step by step guide to both types of virtual interviews.
Preparing for a virtual interview:
1. Scope out a quiet, distraction-free location for your video interview.
2. Determine what device you’ll use for your virtual interview.
3. Test your tech—use an app like Apple’s Photo Booth, or have a video call with a friend.
- Use a desktop computer or laptop if possible—but a tablet or smart phone can work if you have a good quality, adjustable stand.
4. Adjust the lighting and camera to make sure your interviewers will be able to clearly see you.
- Modify your device’s settings to make sure your internet connection, camera and microphone are configured and working correctly (in case your webcam or microphone isn’t working and you need to purchase a new one).
- If you’re concerned about internet connectivity issues, you may want to contact your interviewer ahead of time and ask for a number to call if you experience technical difficulties—but check your interview invitation first. Platforms like Zoom include call-in numbers on meeting invitations.
5. Take note of what will appear in the background of your video—clean up clutter and remove anything distracting that could be seen by your interviewers.
- When facing the camera, you should be looking straight ahead, not up or down.
- Your whole head and shoulders should be visible in the camera’s view.
- If you wear glasses, you may need to make additional lighting adjustments or bring in another lamp to eliminate lens glare.
6. If you will be logging in to any personal accounts, like Skype or Google, for your video interview, make sure your screen name is appropriate. (You should be able to adjust this in the account settings.)
- Keep in mind that any camera adjustments you make before your call could affect what’s in view during your interview.
7. Prepare just like you would for an in-person interview: research the organization, write down questions for the interviewer, and keep a printed copy of your resume handy.
3. Let your children, spouses, and/or housemates know not to disturb you during your interview time.4. Close all unnecessary applications and browser tabs on the device you’re using for your virtual interview—this will improve internet speeds and may help you avoid connectivity issues.
The day of your virtual interview:
1. Dress in your interview attire, from head to toe.
2. Eliminate as many distractions as possible: close your windows, silence your phone, turn off the TV and/or radio, and remove pets from the area.
- Don’t skip the pants just because they aren’t in view! They may not be as comfortable, but it will be easier to communicate and present yourself professionally if you’re fully dressed in work appropriate clothing.
- Avoid bright, distracting colors or prints.
5. Log in to your interview on time, or even a few minutes early.
4. If a housemate or pet comes into the room during the interview, Indeed.com recommends apologizing and ask for them to hold for a moment; then, promptly turn off your camera and mute your microphone before clearing the room of the distraction. (And if you’re completing a prerecorded interview, all you have to do is record that part again.)
During the virtual interview:
1. Be aware of your body language: make sure to sit up straight and make “eye contact” with the camera.
2. Be yourself! Smile and act naturally—even if you tend to be uncomfortable in front of a camera.
3. For video calls: give the other person a couple seconds to finish speaking before you respond.
- Because there may be a delay in transmission, this will ensure you don’t interrupt your interviewer.
After the virtual interview:
Send a thank you email to your interviewers within 24 hours of the interview—just as you would (or should) following an in-person interview.
The idea of completing a virtual interview may be scary or overwhelming for some people, but there’s no reason to stress about it any more than an in-person interview. Use this guide as you plan ahead and prepare, and employers will think you’re a virtual interviewing pro.