Working in human resources, I have been able to interview thousands of candidates for all types of job openings. With the increase in virtual interview opportunities, I have seen it all. From someone interviewing, while sitting on their bed, in their car, to phones falling and the batteries dying, it has been an interesting rollercoaster of events. To help you do well in a virtual job interview, I asked hiring managers and experienced recruiters for tips to help you prepare for a virtual interview. From being well-prepared and engaging to maintaining eye contact with the interviewer, there are several pieces of advice that may help you perform well in virtual job interviews.
How to Ace a Virtual Job Interview
Be Well-Prepared and Engaging
Stay in the moment for a virtual interview. Though "stay in the moment" might seem cliche or vague, this adage encapsulates patience and awareness and works best with deep breathing. Research, practice, and perform. Remember your preparation, but don't anticipate the questions. Listen intently to the full idea before responding. Because so much can go wrong with a virtual interview, tame your environment and video background as much as possible, reducing sound and visual distractions. Deeply engaging with the interviewer despite the detached nature of a virtual interview is the key to winning the interview and securing the job.
- Christopher Ager, HomeBreeze
Test Out Your Environment and Technology in Advance
You want the focus in your interview to stay on your answers and what makes you a valuable candidate. Part of acing a virtual interview is preparing to minimize the risk of technical glitches, interruptions, and distractions that can prevent you from making the best first impression. If you haven't used the interview software, log into it before the interview day to familiarize yourself with its navigation and use. It's also wise to test your microphone, speakers, and internet connection reliability by asking a friend to set up a virtual call, checking things like your volume level and how your interview space comes across from the other person's perspective. If you live with other people or have pets, make the necessary preparations to ensure you'll have a quiet, distraction-free space for the entire interview. And gauge the noise level of your space when you test the technology to know if you'll need to use headphones or other tools to limit potential distractions.
- Jon Hill, The Energists
Turn Off Notifications On Phones and Computers
Whether you tell your friends not to get in touch or not, you can guarantee that, by bad luck, you'll get a message notification on your phone or laptop during your virtual interview. This can throw off your interview, and you don't want to come across as unprofessional or even have a potential employer see messages between you and your friends. Turn off the notifications on all of your devices, so you don't have to worry about any stray notifications coming through and throwing you off your interview!
- James Taylor, James Taylor SEO
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Speak With Confidence and Be Authentic
Speaking from the diaphragm is an effective way to strengthen your voice without altering it. The diaphragm encourages oxygen flow which helps pace the breathing during speeches, creating a more powerful tone. Speaking from the throat will quickly tire out the vocal cords and become hoarse in a matter of minutes. Instead of breathing air into the lungs, try to breathe through your stomach. In doing so, your voice will sound more confident and authentic while staying true to yourself.
- Jodi Neuhauser, Ovaterra
Write Down Things To Refer To During The Interview
Prepare a cheat sheet, but don't rely on it. Let it serve you as support when needed. Basically, it means that you should be well-prepared for your virtual interview. In preparing, it's a good idea to create such a sheet. Put down all the essential information you want to share and the questions you want to ask. If you feel a void in your mind, take a quick look.
- Agata Szczepanek, MyPerfectResume
Focus On the Fundamentals
Don't lose sleep worrying about the minute differences between virtual and in-person interviews. Focus on the fundamentals of interview prep. This means dressing well, maintaining eye contact, researching the company, and preparing for interview questions. Hiring managers are looking for the same qualities during virtual interviews as in-person ones. We conduct interviews to see how well you can summarize your abilities and articulate your goals as an employee. A virtual interview won't stop you from doing that.
- Karl Hughes, Draft.Dev
Show Interest and Stay Engaged
Stay focused and engaged with your interviewer. Visual cues that show you're actively listening to the person you're speaking with can go a long way in helping you lock down an interview. Instead of sitting perfectly still, consider adding simple gestures like nods or small verbal affirmations (so long as they aren't too disruptive) to let your interviewer know that you're paying attention even when you aren't responding to a direct question. It's a good idea to keep a pen and paper handy for taking notes. Jot down a few questions and important points of discussion during your interview. When your interviewer asks if you have any questions towards the tail end of your interview, you'll already be prepared.
- Alex Chavarry, Cool Links
Maintain Eye Contact With The Interviewer
Eye contact and professional attire are two of the most effective tips to conquer a virtual interview. Nonverbal communication or eye contact acknowledges to the speaker you are focused and engaged in the conversation. A structured jacket or blouse that compliments your skin tone and does not compete with the background reflects confidence. Lastly, virtual interviews have the same value as in-person meetings. The business attire and eye contact show the interviewer you are self-assured about the position.
- Yooseok gong, Ohora
Prepare Your Video Equipment
When interviewing remotely, preparing your video equipment setup is essential. If a candidate does not have access to a computer with a webcam, you can use a smartphone or tablet. If you are using your webcam, ensure that you have proper lighting for the interview. Incorrect lighting can create a glare or make it seem like you're sitting in a dark room. Also, if you're next to a window with blinds, ensure that the glare from the sun is not shining light directly on you. It can be distracting to see shaded and bright light slats from a window blind on your face during an interview. If you are using a cell phone during an interview, ensure you have a phone stand that can steady your phone. If you have to hold your phone or if it constantly slips, this causes distractions to the person interviewing you. Even though it's a remote interview, interviewing in your car and falling phones does not present a professional image. Pick a location, steady your camera, and ensure proper lighting.
- Annette Harris, Founder, Harris Financial Coaching