How to Prepare for a Virtual Interview
Since 2020, most employers have embraced virtual interviewing. And it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon.
According to the HireVue 2021 Global Trends Report, 54% of employers said virtual interviewing speeds up the recruitment process, while 41% believe virtual interviewing helps them identify the best candidates.
No matter how you slice it, if you’re a job seeker, then you’ll need to know how to prepare for a virtual interview.
10 Tips to Nail Your Virtual Interview
The following tips will help you present your best self when you are talking to an interviewer screen-to-screen instead of face-to-face.
1. Select the Right Software
Know if your interviewer expects you to show up on Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, or one of the dozens of other virtual meeting platforms.
Get the appropriate software installed on your laptop well ahead of time. Set up a meeting with a friend or colleague to practice using the software before your interview.
Know where the basic functions such as volume control, mute, and camera start/stop are located.
2. Determine Your Best Angle
While testing out your software determine how you’ll look on screen. You want to appear centered with the top of your shoulders and head clearly visible and centered.
Make sure the camera isn’t cutting off the top of your head or angled straight up into your nostrils.
Not only does a bad camera angle look weird, but it signals to the interviewer that you aren’t a technologically savvy individual. That’s not the image you want to project, especially if you’re going for a fully remote position.
3. Set Up a Distraction-Free Environment
Set yourself up in a quiet room in your home to have your interview. Make sure there’s plenty of light and you only have a blank wall behind you. You don’t want the interviewer to be looking at your unmade bed or a hamper full of clothes.
Tell everyone you live with to not disturb you. Barking dogs should be put outside if possible. Better yet, have someone come take your pooch for a walk during your interview.
If finding a quiet space in your home seems impossible, then consider renting a hotel room for the day. This can be especially worthwhile if you’ve lined up several job interviews on the same day.
4. Dress For Success
Even in a virtual setting, you should dress professionally. Wear what you would to an in-person interview. That means a suit and tie for men and business suits for women.
Now, some interviewers may be tempted to be business up top but keep it casual on the bottom with shorts or yoga pants. After all, who’s going to know?
The fact is, you’ll know. We encourage you to wear the full suit including pants, belt, shoes, and tasteful jewelry. Even spray on cologne or perfume if that’s how you would normally show up at an in-person interview.
When you look professional, you’ll feel professional, and that confidence will come through in your discussion.
5. Keep Eye Contact With the Camera
Your impulse may be to look at the interviewer’s eyes on-screen, but that’s not making eye contact. You need to ensure you’re looking at the laptop’s camera in order to “make eye contact” with the interviewer.
Here’s a trick. Put a smiley face sticker next to your laptop’s camera to keep you focused.
6. Research, Research, Research
One of the best ways to prepare for a virtual interview (or an in-person interview) is to learn about the company you want to work for.
You definitely want to peruse the company’s website for the basic information. But beyond that, look for a public relations page or a “what’s new” section of the site. Take note of any big recent news involving the company.
Have they recently landed a high-profile client? Have they taken steps to reduce their carbon footprint in a meaningful way? Perhaps they were named on a prestigious list like the Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality or Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Workplaces for Diversity.
Bringing your thoughts about more recent company news into the conversation shows the interviewer that you are truly interested in what the company does.
7. Look at LinkedIn
While you’re online researching the company don’t forget to spend some time on LinkedIn researching the people who’ll be interviewing you.
Look at their work experience, of course. But also take note of their schooling, any charitable or volunteer work they do, and professional or philanthropic organizations they may belong to.
If there are any commonalities between you and the interviewer in those areas, then weave them into your discussion.
This can help you make a memorable connection with your interviewer, which is even more important when interviewing virtually and you can’t rely on a firm handshake, small talk, or other body language cues to create a lasting impression.
8. Keep Notes Nearby
One advantage of interviewing virtually is that you can keep notes and questions out of the interviewer’s line of sight.
Just don’t rely on them too much. Jot down key words and phrases that will help you remember key points to bring up or questions to ask. Don’t make it obvious that you’re reading from a notebook off screen.
It might be easier if you put your notes into a Word document and keep it in the corner of your screen. You interviewer won’t see it and you’ll be able to inconspicuously glance at it as needed.
9. Double Check That You’re Logged Off After You Disconnect
When the interview is over, double check to ensure you’re logged off before making any remarks. There are horror stories out there of interviewees making off-color comments when they thought the interviewer had left, but they were in fact, still connected.
10. Stay Engaged Even After Goodbye
Interactions with your prospective employer do not end when the virtual interview is over. Follow up promptly with an email in which you thank your interviewer for their time and restate your interest in the position.
The Key to Virtual Interview Success is Preparation
In today’s job market, knowing how to prepare for a virtual interview is essential. These tips will help you present yourself in the best light possible and bring you one step closer to landing your dream job.
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Maria Gold is a Content Manager/Writer for Empire Resume. She is dedicated to helping educate and motivate people with the latest career articles and job search advice. Her interests range from writing to programming and design. She is also passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.