How to prepare for a virtual interview

white male sitting at desk talking to laptop

By Shelley Omand a Career Coach in Student and Graduate Employment with over 20 years of experience in Human Resource Management and Career Coaching who specializes in working with students on career development, resume creation, and interview preparation.

In our new world of social distancing, companies are engaging in more video interviews using tools such as: ZoomSkypeCisco Webex MeetingsBlueJeansMicrosoft Teams, and Google Hangouts Meet

If a hiring manager invites you to a virtual interview---you should say yes. Saying no would be a lost opportunity. If you want the job, find a way to make it work. Download the correct software, create an account, and immediately email the interviewer back with a yes. 

Below are 10 tips to help you prepare and succeed in your virtual interview: 


1. Dress for success

Prepare for a video interview the same as you would for an in-person interview including your clothing/face/hair - dress for success, then ensure that you have all the video bases covered! The MSA’s Career Closet can be a great resource if you are looking for professional attire. 


2. Practice makes perfect

Run through test meetings with family/friends beforehand to help you feel more comfortable. Train yourself to look at the camera when speaking, and test technical features so that you can shine without being distracted by the program.  Here is a great Zoom tutorial to get you started.  


3. Get help looking at the camera

Looking directly at the camera to maintain eye contact makes you appear more personable.  Download a small photo of the recruiter, print it, make hole in photo, and place it over your camera lens - this will make it more human.  Pro-tip: place laptop on stack of books ~6” high, to get camera at eye-level. 


4. Make sure the audio and camera are working properly

Ask family/friend ‘how do I sound, can you hear me clearly, how is the lighting?’.  Before your interview, close all other windows on your computer, especially if they make noise.  During the interview things may go wrong, and the interviewer will understand, but remember to remain calm/friendly while you troubleshoot. It will demonstrate you can handle a stressful situation calmly.  Test Zoom 


5. Use headphones

Use headphones with a mic (i.e. ipod/iphone headphones) if you have them. The computer picks up a lot of background noise, so with a headset they’ll be able to hear you more clearly, with less distracting background noises. 


6. Master the Digital Handshake

The first few seconds of an interview is when a digital chemistry is created.  A slow, confident, professional, firm nod with slight shoulder bend and eyes forward is a simple gesture that shows you are excited and want to get down to business. (The interviewer should not see the top of your head.) 


7. Location…location…location

Find a spot with good lighting and set up clean/neutral background (or use a Zoom background if you can’t find one). Avoid sitting in front of a window and public spaces (unless you don’t have internet at home). Be sure to let everyone in the house know ahead of time that you will be in an interview, and secure animals away from the interview space. 


8. Use notes

Video interviews allow you to have notes around your screen so you don't have to memorize everything you want to mention. Don't rely too much on notes, just easily scannable points that can be used as quick reminders, not a script.  


9. Notice your body language

Have good posture and relax your shoulders to avoid stiffness. 


10. Make sure the interviewer is engaged

Ensuring recruiter interest is crucial in a video interview.  Research recruiter(s) background (work history, articles, professional/community involvement, hobbies etc.)  Compile a list of insightful questions/talking points to infuse throughout your interview. If you want someone to be interested in you, be interested in them. 


Post-Interview bonus tip: Follow up!

A thank you note is just as important after a video interview as an in-person interview, so be sure to send an email thank you note. 


For a video tutorial on how to find great lighting and other video tips watch ‘How to look good on video’

For more information visit Student and Graduate and Employment, Career Ready, or email us at success [at] (success[at]mohawkcollege[dot]ca)