Tips on How to Prepare for a Virtual Interview

how to prepare for a virtual interview

Interviews are used by companies and hiring managers to vet the skills of potential candidates and ensure that their character aligns with the firm’s hiring needs and culture. As for the job seekers, interviews provide a golden opportunity to display their skills and prove why they’re the best fit for the job from a large pool of potential hires. 

Whilst it is true that interviewers come armed with a barrage of materials to conduct thorough and extensive interviews, the candidates are equally required to be sufficiently prepared to answer all the questions to the satisfaction of the interviewing panel. And in a world where most companies are increasingly encouraging workers to operate remotely, the last thing you want to do as a candidate is to miss out on a potential job offer because you lack knowledge or virtual interview etiquette. Unsurprisingly, ‘how to prepare for a virtual interview’ and ‘how to stand out in a virtual interview’ are the most searched phrases on Google amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

To help you out, we have created an in-depth explanation of what to expect in a virtual interview, as well as curated a list of 10 practical remote job interview tips that you can emulate. At the tail-end of this article, we have also tried to provide answers to some frequently asked questions on how to nail a job interview virtually. But before we drill down to the finer details, let’s first get the basics out of the way.

What to Expect from a Virtual Interview

Right off the bat, virtual interviews feature most ingredients and elements of contemporary in-person interviews. You will be competing against other potential candidates for the same position and you’ll be interviewed by a regular interviewing panel. 

The only difference between in-person and virtual comes in the formalities and modus operandi. Unlike in the former, virtual interviews don’t extend you the luxury of shaking hands or even being shown where to sit in the conference room. All you simply need to do is to click on a virtual conferencing link, drop into a video call, and you’ll find the interviewers waiting on the other end.

How to Prepare for a Virtual Interview: 10 Effective Strategies

If it’s your first time attending an interview virtually, it can be extremely challenging to handle the multiple moving parts. Luckily for you, we’ve compiled 10 practical online interview prep tips to follow when preparing for your virtual interview.

online interview prep tips

They include:

#1. Test your technology in advance

A virtual interview requires hardware, a stable internet connection, conferencing software program, a camera, among many other things. You can start to prepare for IT interview or any other interview by testing all of your technology a day in advance to ensure it works properly. This may include downloading the necessary software, having a functional computer with all the technical specifications, and conducting internet speed tests.

#2. Assemble the necessary hardware

Conducting your virtual interview on a laptop is better compared to using a mobile phone as it appears more professional. And if you happen to use a phone, try and get a proper stand to stabilize the phone and use headphones.

#3. Set up your shot

When you go to a normal office interview, it’s the company that’s tasked with setting up the interviewing room. For a virtual interview, however, you are. And for this, you need to set up your shot by eliminating all the clutter within the shot. In terms of choosing the best background for video interview, you should go for a blank wall or place a simple picture to avoid diverting the interviewer’s attention.

#4. Minimize distractions

While setting up your shot, ensure you find a quiet room that has optimal lighting. It’s hard to convince an employer that you’re organized and detail-oriented when there are books and laundry scattered all over.

#5. Turn off notifications

You should also ensure that you have turned off all notifications from online services that could distract you in the middle of the interview. For this, you need to sign out of the messaging services and social media or activate the do-not-disturb function. Also, close all the browser windows and videos that may surprise you by kicking into auto-play.

#6. Wear a professional video interview outfit

Just like the regular in-person interview, you should also dress professionally when attending a virtual interview. By doing so, you illuminate professionalism, as well as show the potential employers that you are excited about the opportunity. Being properly dressed also makes you feel prepared and more confident. And if you are wondering what to wear to a virtual interview, you can dress in official clothing or even business casual.

#7. Check for glare and lighting

Now that you have your outfit and location right, it’s now time to check for lighting. On top of choosing a naturally lit room, you should also ensure there is nothing reflective or illuminating a glare that may distract the interviewer. Possible culprits to get rid of include watches, eyeglasses, and jewelry. If you are to use artificial lighting during the virtual interview, ensure that the light is located in the front. If the light source is behind you, you will automatically turn into an opaque silhouette, and the interviewer will find it difficult to see you. 

#8. Hone your video interview skills ahead

If you aren’t used to video chat, chances are that you’ll find virtual conversations awkward—especially when looking at yourself. To avoid this, you can set up a mock video interview together with a friend or even learn how to sound confident in an interview by watching online videos. Still, you can record your practice and play it back to identify bad posture and eye contact and make adjustments accordingly.

#9. Research about the company and job position

This may sound like a no-brainer suggestion but you don’t want to appear clueless about the company or job position―whether attending in-person or virtually. As such, you should get all your facts right and try to avoid giving long-winded answers if virtual interview questions don’t warrant it. What you should know about a company before an interview includes history, business values, culture, mission statement, products/services, customers, competitions, just to mention a few.

#10. Have a backup plan

No matter how much you’ve put into preparing for a virtual interview, something can always go wrong. Even after testing everything, you should always have a backup plan such as the traditional phone call in case technology fails.

How to Stand Out in a Virtual Interview

You are fully prepared for the interview and probably wondering how to impress in an online interview and stand out from the rest? Here are a few tips:

  • Dress the part. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of wearing the right attire. Whilst it’s possible to dress casually, you don’t want to appear like you just rolled out of bed. So always try to appear as professional as possible. In terms of how to sit during interview, you need to sit in an upright posture as it helps project your confidence and personality.
  • Build rapport. Whenever appearing in a virtual, establishing rapport and building personal connections can help you stand out. You can do this by talking about common interests, asking how the company experience has been with online interviews, or even offering tips for working remotely.
  • Be authentic. Interviewers can tell when you are being genuine or not. So try and be authentic as possible and express yourself as naturally as possible. 
what not to do during a job interview

Virtual Interview FAQs

1) What are the dos and don’ts in an interview?

Some of the keys to a good interview include:

  • Research about the company and job position
  • Dress appropriately
  • Keep time
  • Maintain good eye contact
  • Provide thorough and precise responses
  • Thank the interviewer after the interview

What not to do during a job interview:

  • Going unprepared and treating interviews casually
  • Falsifying resume material and answers
  • Exhibiting frustrations and desperateness
  • Chewing gum
  • Picking calls in the middle of the interview
  • Making the impression that you are only interested in the salary

2) Can you look at notes during a video interview?

In an in-person, it may not be ideal to look at your notes. In a virtual interview, however, you can subtly look at your notes to remember specific facts about the organization or answer difficult questions.

3) How should you respond to the initial interview email?

Sometimes a company will send you an email for an initial interview. Here’s how to respond to initial interview email:

  • Thank you for the interview invitation with [company]. Sure, I am available on [date and time].”
  • “Yes, I would like to attend the interview on [date and time]…”

4) How to sound confident in an interview?

Projecting confidence in an interview (in-person or virtual) is just as important as demonstrating your skills and unique qualifications. Here are a few tips on how to ace a job interview by sounding confident:

  • Calm your fidgeting
  • Talk slowly
  • Avoid using complicated jargon
  • Prepare by rehearsing your answers

5) What should be the background of the virtual interview?

Ideally, you should have a clean background that’s free of clutter and distractions. And if you have to hand something on the wall, it should be a few decorative features. 

6) What do employers look for in video interviews?

Just like in the face-to-face interview, interviewers are looking for several things in visual interviews including:

  • Level of competence and experience
  • Confidence
  • Personality
  • Communication skills
  • Organizational skills

Follow our tips on how to impress in an online interview and blow the hiring managers out of their shoes!