Virtual technology isn’t just the future interviewing method for recruiters and hiring managers—it’s the present. As a result, being confident and competent in communicating with an employer virtually is more important now than ever.
To bring your best self to the table when it counts the most, follow these ten proven tips to master your next virtual interview and leave the right kind of impression to impress your prospective employer.
1. Practice. Practice is always necessary for an interview and it’s especially important for a virtual interview. You need to get yourself used to speaking on camera. You also need to make sure your lighting, computer A/V quality, visual appearance, and background are all interview ready. In other words, don’t wait until you’re sitting across your actual virtual interviewer to realize that you should have invested in those quality earbuds or removed that rock band poster from high school on your back wall after all. To practice, we recommend using Big Interview as a resource.
2. Take it just as seriously as you would an in-person interview. By taking action on step #1, you’re already off to a solid start. Make sure you follow the same pre-interview routines you would have for an on-site interview, such as performing detailed research beforehand, getting a good night’s sleep, taking care of hygiene and grooming needs, and dressing the part.
3. Control your environment. Make sure you have a quiet, distraction-free space for your interview. In a crowded house, this can be difficult. Alert your family/roommates ahead of time that you have an interview and will need quiet. And be prepared for distractions that are out of your control, like a delivery truck outside.
4. Optimize your space. Take the time to organize your environment so you can access necessary physical or digital documents easily. Remove objects from your immediate environment that are distracting. If it is a phone interview, make sure your phone is charged and you have a clear service connection. If it is a video interview, make sure your computer is fully charged and you have a solid Wi-Fi connection. Make sure you’ve tidied up or removed all surrounding objects from your background. Test the camera in advance to see what it catches and adjust accordingly.
5. Dress to impress. A simple rule of thumb is to dress in solid colors and employ the “less is more” approach when it comes to jewelry and accessories. Patterns and sparkly jewelry can be very distracting on camera. Make sure to adjust your makeup and skin care appropriately to prevent overly oily or dry-looking skin when on camera. Keep in mind that first impressions count and are hard to recover from if not executed intentionally.
6. Maintain appropriate eye contact. Eye contact is just as important in video interviews as it is in person. It demonstrates respect, confidence, and curiosity. Make it a point to keep your focus on the webcam, not the view from your screen. When you look directly into the camera, it’ll appear on the other side that you’re looking right at the person, instead of above or below them. This can feel awkward at first, which is why practice beforehand is essential.
7. Don’t forget you’re speaking with a human being. Don’t let technology get in the way of you portraying your best self. Just as you would seek to communicate your personality in an in-person interview, take the opportunity to break the ice and share meaningful, genuine pieces of your story where appropriate. Be sure to ask meaningful questions of the interviewer as well. Remember, people don’t just make offers to people who “can do the job”, but also who they would like to “do the job with”. Be yourself!
8. Be mindful of your body language. Your mannerisms, facial expressions, hand gestures, and even head movements (or lack thereof) can be exacerbated on camera. Your body language can serve as a positive by emphasizing enthusiasm or warmth, but it can also be a negative by showing your nerves. Practice will help you identify any potential nervous ticks you may have, like hair twirling, touching your face, or moving your hands incessantly. Try to limit, if not remove, these behaviors completely, as they can negate the message you’re working hard to verbally deliver.
9. Keep a pen and paper handy. Taking handwritten notes reduces the likelihood of being distracted by your computer notifications. You can prepare your own “cheat sheet”, including thoughtful, purposeful questions you want to ask and key insights or data points of the company you want to keep top of mind.
10. Do a tech run through. (Seriously, don’t skip this.) As funny as the “Houston, we have a problem” line is, you don’t want to be the one who actually has the problem. Resolve this issue in advance by following the logistical checklist here in this Big Interview article entitled “The Ultimate Guide to Acing Video Interviews” (e.g., webcam check, internet connection, closing tabs to clear up memory, keeping a water bottle nearby).
These tips will help you with acing the “virtual” aspect of your interview. Don’t forget that you also need to prepare and practice your answers to questions, just like a regular in-person interview. We recorded our Interview Workshop on Zoom to provide you with successful behavioral interviewing strategies to help you prepare.
For more interviewing tips, check out the Career Center’s Interviewing webpage. Additionally, check out a few of our past blog posts: