8 Top Tips on How to Succeed in Your Virtual Job Interview
Businesses all over the world made adjustments to the way they work in reaction to the pandemic. With many people based from home to avoid unnecessary physical interaction, video interviews increased in popularity.
Today, lots of companies still rely on virtual interviews to make hiring decisions, saving the time and inconvenience of in-person meetings. Interviews over video platforms can be nerve-racking, and you may be worried about how to present yourself to make a good first impression — especially if you’ve never done one before.
Here at Forward Role, we’ve been arranging video interviews between our clients and candidates for several years. That’s why we’ve used our expertise to share top tips, advice, and things to avoid to help you prepare for and succeed in your virtual job interview.
What is a virtual job interview?
A virtual interview is a meeting that takes place remotely rather than in person. Although they can be conducted over the phone, companies often use video conferencing platforms so they can see and engage with potential candidates. They usually work the same way as a face-to-face interview, in which you answer questions about your skills and qualifications.
Top tips for succeeding in a virtual job interview
To help set you up for success, we’ll walk you through our top tips for how to prepare, present yourself, and get the interview done.
The advantage of online interviews is having your notes close to hand, outside of the view of the interviewer. Take advantage of this by writing down the answers to commonly asked questions in interviews, including:
Tell me about yourself
Tell me about a time when you came across a work-related challenge and how you overcame it
What are you passionate about?
What is your biggest achievement?
What is your biggest strength and why?
What is your biggest weakness and why?
Where do you see yourself in five years?
What do you know about the company?
Why do you want to work for this company?
This will help you to gather your thoughts and give you some inspiration if your mind goes blank during the interview. Having a printed copy of your CV can also jog your memory when asked questions like “tell me a bit about yourself” or “walk me through your resume.”
Every interviewer will also appreciate, as well as expect, if you have taken the time to look into their company, what they do, and what their core visions and values are. Preparing all of this beforehand will emphasise your eagerness and enthusiasm for the job, which can only be a positive.
However, just because an online interview allows you to refer to your answers, it doesn’t mean you should totally rely on them. Your notes should be used as something you refer to before the interview to jog your memory. Looking down at them too often or reading from a script can appear unnatural and indicate to the interviewer that you are unprepared. Or even worse — that you are distracted by something else and lack interest in the role. Therefore, try only to use your notes if your mind goes blank.
You should prepare and practice for a video interview as you would for any in-person meeting. This will enable you to speak clearly and engage in natural conversation. If you’re feeling nervous, practice by recording yourself answering some common questions to help you remember what to say and build your confidence.
Check your technology is working
It may sound obvious, but it’s vital that you know which platform your video interview is taking place on and that you’ve tested it well in advance of the scheduled time. Finding out 15 minutes before your interview that Skype is incompatible with your laptop, or not giving yourself enough time to create a Zoom account, will cause you unnecessary stress.
Ask a friend or family member to help you test that your camera and microphone both work and make sure that you’re based somewhere with a stable internet connection. If your WIFI at home is known for being a little slow, close down all other programmes and browsers to give it the best chance.
Remember to charge your device well in advance, and make sure you have a phone number for the interviewer to hand, just in case you lose connection.
Choose a suitable setting
If you’re planning on being at home for your video interview, make sure you’ll be free from any possible interruptions. Finding a quiet, well-lit location and telling anyone in your space that you have a video call will ensure limited distractions.
If possible, sit at a table as this will look most professional and avoid any settings that are too dark or too bright — a plain, neutral background is ideal!
As you won’t be going into the office, you may be wondering what to wear for your video interview. Even though you’re not meeting the interviewer face-to-face, you should still dress professionally.
Depending on the type of company, business casual may be more appropriate, but unless you’re told otherwise, dress smartly. Avoid wearing very bright colours or large prints, which may be distracting.
Dressing professionally will not only show you are excited about the role, but it can also help you feel more put together and confident. Just remember to dress smartly from head to toe in case you need to get up during the meeting to readjust your camera or shut the door behind you. Untidy pants could ruin your look!
Use positive body language
Positive body language is almost as important as the words you say — it’s one of the first things your interviewer will notice. Although video calls can limit the ability to communicate through body language, there are a few things you can do to give off a good impression.
Looking at the camera instead of the bottom of the screen and sitting upright at your desk will project confidence, helping the interviewer trust what you are saying. Smiling and nodding will also show you’re listening and present your enthusiasm for the job.
Calm your nerves
Whether they’re virtual or face-to-face, interviews can be daunting experiences. But the advantage of an online interview is that you get to do it from the comfort of your own home, which takes some of the stress out of it.
Of course, your nerves will still kick in, but taking deep, slow breaths during your interview will help reduce your heart rate, making you feel calmer.
If you feel stressed or overwhelmed during your interview, it’s okay to take a few seconds before answering any questions to gather your thoughts. This will help you give a concise answer.
Preparing what you have to say before your interview will help you to speak confidently and communicate effectively.
With virtual video calls, there can often be lag. Wait a few seconds after they have finished talking to avoid interrupting your interviewer or awkwardly speaking over them. This will also give you time to gather your thoughts and answer their question clearly.
And remember — if you miss something they say, don’t be afraid to ask politely for them to repeat the question. This will avoid any confusing or unclear answers.
Similar to any interview process, sending a follow-up email within 24 hours of the virtual meeting will keep at the top of the hiring manager’s mind during the process. Thanking them for their time and asking them to let you know if they need any additional information will reinforce your interest in and enthusiasm for the job.
What to avoid during a virtual job interview
A messy background — If your interviewer can see any mess behind you during the video call, they may be distracted. They may also regard you as disorganised or that you fail to pay attention to details. To get your interview off to a good start, pick a spot to set up your computer where there is a plain background behind you — sitting in front of a white wall works well.
A dark room — A dark room will make it difficult for the interviewer to see your face clearly, making it tricky for them to get a sense of your character. Sit in a spot with good lighting; sitting near a window with natural light is best, but a lamp or ceiling light is fine if that isn’t possible.
Being interrupted — During online interviews, you could face distractions from family members, pets, or even the doorbell. This can make you, as well as the interviewer, lose focus. Fortunately, it can be easily avoided by letting the people you live with know that you have an important meeting. You could even put a note on your front door asking people not to knock during the interview.
Not preparing — Being unprepared can increase nerves and may result in unclear or wordy responses to questions. Going over your CV and achievements, making notes on common questions, and researching the company will set you up for success.
Joining the meeting late — Being late to your virtual interview may show your potential employer that you are unprepared. It could also make you flustered or more nervous if you join and your interviewer is waiting for you. Aim to join the call at least five minutes early to give yourself time to gather your thoughts.
Once you prepare for and understand how to present yourself during the process, you’ll be well on your way to success in your virtual interview.
If you manage to secure the role — congratulations! You can now prepare by reading our 10 top tips for starting a new job successfully. Or, if you didn’t get the job this time, take a look at our guide on how to handle job rejection and use it to your advantage.
For more expert tips, read our blog.