How to Prepare for, and ACE a Virtual Job Interview

Virtual Interview

Your job searching efforts have finally paid off!  You got the call for an interview!  But instead of going into their office, they want to do an online interview.  Many employers have now opted to use technology over in-person meetings when hiring new employees.  Especially now when social distancing and working from home have become the norm.

A video interview is not much different than having one in person, with the exception of a few pieces of technology and some virtual etiquette.  Check out these 6 tips so you can nail the interview right from your own home.  In this article you’ll learn:

  1. Why your interview location is important
  2. What equipment you will need
  3. To banish Pre-interview jitters
  4. How to prepare pre-interview
  5. What it means to look (and feel) the part
  6. Best closing & follow up practices


Choose a Suitable Location

Your interview location is an important part of your preparation.  Ensure your space is quiet with no disruptions.  No pets or kids and turn off your cell phone and close tabs & notifications on your computer.  Ensure your background is clean & free from mess and distractions.  A blank wall works great!  You want your interviewer focused on you, not your clutter.  And have ample lighting so your face is clearly visible to your interviewer.  Soft natural light aimed toward your face just off center is most flattering.  If you don’t have a window to use, be sure your lighting is bright, but not glaring as this can become overwhelming and hard to see on screen.


Your Equipment

You’ll need a camera, mic, light source, internet connection and speakers or headset.  Check the condition of your equipment.  If the camera and mic on your old desktop are poor quality & outdated, you may be better off setting up your new cell phone for the interview instead.  Know what video program you’ll be using ahead of time and get familiar with it before the interview.  Always test out your set up prior to the interview.  Test your camera, mic, speakers, earbuds (if you’re using them) and internet connection to ensure all of those are in good working order.  Is your camera pixelated or scratched?  Do your mic & speakers record and project sound clearly?  Is your internet connection reliable?  Also test your lighting, background and where you will position yourself in relation to the angle of the camera.  You want to be clearly visible and easily heard and you don’t want to be making those adjustments during the interview.  Ideally test these things out a few days prior, in case you need to purchase anything new or move your set-up around, you’ll have time to do so beforehand.  You’ll also want to do a second testing of everything again just prior to the interview.

Of course, just because you’ve tested everything ahead of time doesn’t mean that glitches can’t happen.  So plan ahead and have alternate contact information to reach your interviewer if unplanned circumstances arise.


Banish Pre-Interview Jitters

Reviewing common interview questions and crafting your responses ahead of time is a great way to prepare for an interview (in-person or virtual).  Getting familiar with what may be asked of you and how you want to respond helps to build confidence and calms any nerves.  A great way to practice these questions & answers is with a friend over video chat. Use the same software that you’ll be using for your interview so you can get familiar with it.  You can rehearse your interview skills by practicing with a friend and you’ll get feedback on your video & audio set up at the same time.  Practice, practice and practice again until it becomes easy.  Before you know it any jitters will have all but disappeared and your new found confidence will shine through during the interview.


Be Prepared

If you haven’t done any prior research about the company interviewing you, now is the time.  Do a bit of digging on the company before you are face-to-face (well, face-to-screen).  Get familiar with their history, culture, values, practices, and any questions you may have for them. This will help you tie in your strengths and how you’ll fit in as an essential asset.  Write down the important details and topics you don’t want to forget.  Unlike a traditional interview, you can have these points close at hand during a virtual interview.  Post this cheat sheet and your resume on your monitor or just to the side of your screen where it won’t get noticed.   If you need to reference something it’s right there and you won’t get stumped when they ask “So, tell me what you know about our company?”  It’s also a good idea to keep a note pad and a pen handy to write anything down that you might need to.


Look (and feel) the Part

Just because you don’t have to leave your home for an interview doesn’t mean you can skip dressing appropriately.  Your attire is just as important in a virtual setting as it is for an in-person interview.  Regardless of the job, wear something that is comfortable yet looks professional and is appropriate for the position you are applying for.

Not only is your clothing important, but don’t discount your body language.  It can say a lot about you without you even realizing it.  Remember to maintain eye contact with the interviewer.  It can be tempting to look at yourself when on a video call, so if you have to minimize your own image, do that so you can be focused on the interview and maintaining eye contact with the person you’re talking to.

Smile, sit up tall in your chair with good posture and project your voice clearly.  These small gestures play a huge part in creating a positive experience. Running on the spot for 10-15 seconds or doing a few quick jumping jacks (not enough to get you winded) before the interview will give you a quick burst of energy that will put your mind into a happy and energetic state.  If you feel happy, confident and energized that will shine through in your interview.

Also, during video calls, sometimes the audio can be delayed on the other end.  Keep this in mind when in a dialogue.  Allow the other person to finish talking… then pause for a few seconds before speaking.  This ensures that you’re able to hear the communication completely and the first few words of your responses don’t get cut off either.  It makes for a much smoother interaction and saves everyone from saying “could you please repeat that?”


Closing & Follow Up

As the interview nears the end, always thank the interviewer for their time and consideration.  A good practice is to also write a follow up “thank you” email within 24 hours of the interview.  This simple gesture can separate you from other candidates and leaves the employer with a positive impression.  A well written and genuine “thank you” email helps keep you top of mind to an employer wading through a sea of applicants.


You may be comfortable with traditional in-person interviews, but they aren’t that different from a virtual one.  And as we’re experiencing, face-to-face meetings are quickly becoming a thing of the past.  Don’t let this new experience derail your enthusiasm for the position.  Once you get familiar with how virtual interviews work, you might not even want to go back.  Embrace the new and now so you can ace your virtual interview and get the job!