Online interviewing is more and more commonplace in today’s world of remote work. What’s great is that acing your virtual job interview doesn’t have to be complicated, as long as you plan ahead and know what to do—and what to avoid. These tips will make that easier!
The job search can sometimes be a daunting process no matter how you do it, but when you’re asked to do an online interview, it can seem even more challenging. Whether you don’t have a lot of experience with virtual conversations—or with interviewing in general—the key to successfully standing out as a great candidate is thorough preparation.
The good news is, once you do that prep work, you’ll set yourself up to do well in any interview, online or offline. This handy checklist of steps to take will help you shine your brightest in front of an employer when you’re job seeking.
Make sure your hardware is working properly
Getting your equipment ready now will make your interview all the more seamless and relaxed when you hop on the video call. To do that, start with checking your hardware.
- Test the setup. Is everything plugged in and properly charging? This may seem basic, but you don’t want to neglect these things until the last minute.
- Use a computer, not a phone. Whenever possible, conduct the interview sitting in front of a newer desktop or laptop with a built-in camera. The sights and sounds will be smoother for everyone than if you try to do it on a phone (which can come across as unprofessional!).
Ensure a fast, reliable Internet connection.
A dropped call, frozen video, or unclear audio can stress you out, make the interview feel awkward, and interfere with creating a positive impression. Make sure your video conferencing can happen smoothly. If needed, upgrade your WiFi, update your equipment, and log out of any unneeded programs during the call.
Pro Tip: If your home connection just won’t cut it, do the call from a quiet area with better connectivity, such as a library study room or a conference room at a co-working space.
Download the software ahead of time
Do this step as early as you can—preferably as soon as you get the interview information. Don’t assume it’ll be Zoom or Google Meet, because there are dozens of apps a company can use to do video calls.
You may need to set up an account, so do that early, and test the software before you use it. If you need to troubleshoot, you’ll want the chance to do that before the interview happens—not during it.
Prepare attractive surroundings
Make sure that where you’ll be sitting looks and sounds appropriate for business. Turn on your video camera or hop on Zoom live to see how your background looks. Remove items from view that are too personal, and make sure the setting is visually attractive.
A few ways to do that:
- Sit in front of a colorful wall rather than a white one if you can.
- Add a plant, some tasteful flowers, or a stack of business books behind you.
- Remove anything that looks worn or unappealing.
- Get rid of clutter, but feel free to leave at least a few attractive items for visual interest.
Boost your lighting
Good lighting is essential to making a good impression on a video call. And this can be a fiddly task, depending on your room, your windows, time of day, weather… In other words, it takes time to set this up properly.
To create an appealing, bright, warm setup for your online interview, make sure you’re facing the light source. This may mean having a window, a ring light, or a lamp or two on the table in front of you.
Test the options while you’re sitting in front of the computer camera so you can see what works. Do this at the same time of day your interview will take place for the best results.
Master your sound quality
The audio for your virtual interview needs to be clear and focused, without background noise. Yes, you should avoid doing the call in a busy coffee shop, but also think about the street outside your home. If it’s noisy due to traffic or construction, perhaps setting up at the back of the house could offer a quieter setup.
Keep the space peaceful by closing the door to your room, and hanging a note that reminds your spouse, partner, or children not to disturb you.
And don’t neglect good headphones! The sound quality tends to be better. You’ll be better able to stay focused on the conversation. And headphones tend to eliminate (or at least lessen) the impact of annoying background noise—such as when the dog starts barking at the delivery person mid-call.
Dress for success
An online call isn’t an excuse to dress down. Present yourself just as well as you would during an in-person interview.
Read emails and other invitation details carefully, to see what the interviewer says about appropriate attire (and any other expectations they have!). If you’re not sure, go with a business professional outfit that fits you well and looks good on-screen.
And make sure the outfit is comfortable as well as professional, so that you can sit relaxed as you chat and answer questions.
Log in early
On the day of the interview, don’t wait until the last second to get online. Give yourself at least 5-10 minutes to set things up, check lighting, test your audio and turn on the appropriate video conferencing software before the interviewer arrives for your call.
This gives you a little time to troubleshoot if needed, before the call begins. And then you can relax and concentrate on the interview itself.
Be mindful of your presentation
Because the interview is happening online, you want to come across well on camera. There are some simple tips you can follow to appear at your best.
- Show your engagement by leaning in and maintaining an open facial expression. Smile!
- Be relaxed in your body posture. Try not to fidget or move too much. A comfortable chair can make this easier.
- Keep your voice/tone upbeat, so that you sound alert and engaged.
- Speak clearly. Be sure to breathe, and don’t talk too fast.
Pro tip: Do a test run with a friend to practice. Or do a video call with yourself to watch yourself on-screen.
We’ve got more tips here for doing a mock interview before you get online for the real thing.
Remember it’s a real interview, even if it’s online.
Doing a video call may change how the interview happens, but the process is still the same, with the same goals—figuring out if you’re a good fit for the role. So, do all the legwork you’d do for an in-person interview.
- Do your research about the company and the position, so you can ensure you stand in the best light as you interview.
- Have stories and stats handy, so that you can easily showcase what you have to offer.
- Start and end with courtesy. Give a warm, relaxed greeting to start the call, and express your appreciation before the call ends.
Get more tips here on how to create an effective interview strategy.
Summing It All Up
Online interviews are becoming increasingly popular, so it’s a smart idea to prepare yourself to handle them with success. Use these steps ahead of time to get ready, so you’ll be in position to stand out from other candidates and increase your chances of getting that coveted job offer.