How to prepare yourself for a Virtual Interview

How do you nail a virtual interview?

Even before Covid-19 related lockdowns sent many of us out of the office for remote work, virtual interviews were on the rise. By April 2020, 86% of interviews were being conducted virtually and 74% of hiring managers found that video interviews have made their jobs easier even when the offices started to reopen. This fact would indicate that the era of the online interview might not come to an end when the Covid19 emergency will come to an end.

Here is some advice for interviewing virtually to ensure that you nail your virtual interview.

1. Make sure that you and your space look professional

Since remote work became more routine, we’ve all joked about showing up to our “Zoom jobs” in professional tops and sweatpants. But when it comes time for your interview, dress fully in a proper professional outfit, and be sure to consider the corporate culture for which you’re interviewing as you choose your outfit.

Dressing well for your interview is important not just for your own confidence. It will also speak loud and clear to the hiring manager. Data shows that 50% of hiring managers believed that a candidate could be eliminated based on how they dressed, or the way they walked in the room. 

Once you’ve selected a professional outfit that will make you feel confident, figure out the best background in front of which to place your webcam.

Clean, neutral backgrounds that are free from too much clutter are the way to go. A bookshelf is also a good way to go, as long as it passes the “credibility” check

2. Focus on body language and make sure you’re presenting well on video

What you do have control over is your body language. Body language is crucial in creating a good first impression. Make sure that before you click the “camera on” button, you’re hitting the mark with your body language.  

Strong posture: This should be your first thought. A study found that 33% of interviewers decide on whether or not to hire a candidate in the first 90 seconds! That’s why it’s crucial that you display strong posture and open and inviting body language as soon as you begin your virtual interview. Have your webcam level with your line of sight. This will help you keep good posture, and create a more natural position for you to engage with your virtual interviewer. Plus, we all look better when shot from a direct angle, rather than from below. 

Engage your head and your hands: Nodding and smiling shows attentive listening, and talking with you hands can help lend credibility to what you are saying. 

Look at the webcam, and not the screen, to simulate eye contact. Eye contact is critical to making a good impression in your interview, so much so that 65% of hiring professionals state that candidates who failed to eye contact didn’t make the cut. 

Do not constantly having to look at yourself on a screen is almost certain to make you feel distracted, or have you focusing on things less important than engaging with the 

interviewer. Remember, if you were in person, you wouldn’t have to look at yourself!

3) Make sure your tech is up to snuff to best capture your interview

An interview is a conversation, and the last thing you want is a stop-and-start, stilted conversation that’s undermined by technical difficulties. 

Internet speed: Make sure that your internet is working well, and that you are in an area that you will get a consistent Wi-Fi signal. You can check your internet speed by using the website Speedtest.

Lighting: You may think that a bright window is a great background for your virtual interview, but I hate to say it: you’d be wrong. Backlighting will make you look washed-out and has the potential to obscure your face, and make you hard to read. 

Background noise: This could be a disgruntled pet, loud traffic outside or just that strange Zoom echo. Headphones with a built-in microphone are a great bet to keep distracting sound to a minimum and make sure that your voice is coming through loud and clear. Use earbuds; a big headset will make you look like a pilot or professional gamer.

Clear your computer of clutter ahead of an interview: Before you sign on to your interview, close any unused programs and unnecessary tabs. This will ensure that your computer and internet speeds aren’t being taxed unnecessarily.  

As with any interview, do your homework, prepare for some questions you might encounter and just try to put your best self out there. Good luck!