How to nail a virtual interview

By Ella Weerdenburg

Austin Distel Jp Hw8ndw J Q Unsplash

​I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that things are pretty strange at the moment. We’re all adapting to a new life in lockdown and preparing for ongoing social distancing measures, so if you’re in the market for your next role, this will likely involve a virtual interview. To help you get prepared, below are some tips to ensure that everything runs smoothly come interview time.

Prepare and test your set-up ahead of time

Be it via Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams or whichever platform you’re connecting through, make sure you have it downloaded, set up, logged in and ready to go on your computer. Find a quiet space with nothing distracting in the background and test out your camera, lighting, and audio.

Jump on a test call with a friend. Have them ask you practice questions as if they were the hiring manager and request feedback on both your delivery and surrounding environment. This will not only help you prepare your answers, but it's a good way to get comfortable speaking effectively to the camera.

Minimise all distractions

Ensure you have closed all other programs, turned off notifications and switched your phone to silent. If you have children, where possible arrange for someone to look after them and for your non-human family members, ensure that they are fed, have had a potty break, and that the door is closed to avoid any surprise visits from your furry friends. If there are people co-habitating with you, ask that they keep noises to a minimum during the interview time. A good rule of thumb is if you can hear the TV, your interviewers probably can too.

Dress to impress

It’s important to dress professionally and in line with the company’s dress code. Wear what you would have worn if the interview had been in person. I know the temptation to wear pyjama bottoms or even go pant-less is high, but should you need to stand up for whatever reason, pants will be your friend. It'll also help get you in the appropriate frame of mind.

Be punctual

Of course it goes without saying that it’s important not to be late! But it’s also important not to be too early... If you’re connecting well before the arranged time, it puts stress on the hiring managers to scramble to get ready. Joining the meeting around three minutes before the scheduled time is punctual and doesn’t put pressure on your interviewers.

Maintain eye contact

Just as if your interviewers were sitting across the table from you, you want to maintain eye contact despite this being an "e-meeting". If your eyes are wandering around the room or staring at your own image, it gives the impression that you are distracted. Equally, don’t have a second screen set up to read off, it will become very obvious, very quickly if you aren’t answering questions of your own accord. Looking into the camera during your interview reflects that you are focussed on the conversation.

Say cheese!

It can be harder to establish rapport over video as the opportunity for many of our natural body language and gestures is limited or non-existent. One key way to come across positively is to smile, sit up straight, and nod appropriately to signify that you are engaged with the conversation.

By keeping these tips top of mind when interviewing virtually, you're sure to nail it! If you're in need of more general interview preparation guidance, check out "Nine interview tips to land your dream job"

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash