Top Tips and Best Practices to Ace Your Virtual Interview

by Guest Author,

New tactics and abilities are required to impress interviewers and accomplish your objectives as face-to-face interviews give way to virtual ones.

Undoubtedly, virtual interviews have become the new face-to-face interviews. With the rise of remote work and global collaboration, there’s a good possibility that you’ll encounter a virtual interview at some point in your life, be it for a job, college admittance or professional program. While the fundamentals of effective interviewing—such as careful preparation and effective communication—remain consistent, the virtual format presents unique challenges, such as technical problems and the difficulty of developing rapport remotely.

However, with our roundup of virtual interview tips, you can adeptly navigate these intricacies and ace your interview.

How to impress in an online interview?

1. Technical preparedness: Ensuring a smooth interview

Device and software readiness

Never assume that everything will work flawlessly in online interviews. Even a reliable laptop can surprise you with a sudden glitch—the last thing you want during an interview. Here’s what you need to keep in mind while ensuring your device is fit for a virtual interview:

  • Make sure your system meets the minumum requirements to run the video conferencing program properly, such as storage space and internet speed. For instance, Zoom requires a 3G or 4G bandwidth with a high internet speed to run effortlessly. Run an internet speed test before the interview and clear your cache regularly to make sure everything is working properly.
  • Update your browser, operating system and video conferencing software. By doing so, you can avoid compatibility problems, like a different user interface (UI) or backdated/outdated features.
  • Familiarize yourself with the software’s features, such as screen sharing, chat, muting and unmuting, virtual backdrops, etc. This might assist you in navigating the platform during the interview with ease.
  • Invest in (or borrow) quality earbuds or headphones with a microphone as well as webcams, which often offer crisper audio and visual quality when compared to built-in laptop speakers, mic and camera.
  • This goes without saying—charge your mobile device or laptop fully. To prevent unexpected power loss, consider keeping your device plugged in during the interview.
  • Have a backup internet connection, such as a mobile hotspot, on standby, if at all feasible.

2. Setting the stage: Creating the optimal interview environment 

Physical environment

  • Declutter your space or use a virtual background to maintain a professional appearance.
  • Inform household members about the interview and keep pets away to avoid interruptions.
  • Close any windows to block out loud noises and sit far away from noise sources. To be safe, consider using a noise-canceling headset.
  • Ensure sufficient lighting, preferably natural, with the main light source in front of instead of behind you. This allows the interviewers to see your face properly.
  • Position your camera at eye level so that your face and upper body are included in the frame. Ensure you’re centered in the frame so that you don’t seem confined. You can use a stand or a stack of books to lift your gadget if necessary.
  • Test your speaker and mic to ensure no extraneous sounds are being picked up, like the computer fan or keyboard clicks.

Digital environment

  • Close unnecessary tabs and apps to avoid slow internet speed, distraction and notifications.
  • In case you need to share your screen, ensure your desktop is organized and free of personal files. Some interviewers might require you to share your screen to avoid cheating during interviews or present any required documents.

3. Presentation matters: Dressing and body language

Whether your interview is virtual or in-person, presentation is everything. Dress professionally, exactly as if you’re attending a face-to-face interview. That means avoiding informal attire like loungewear or T-shirts, which can make you look unprofessional and not interested in the job. If you know the company’s dress code, match your outfit to it—you know what they say, dress for the job you want. A useful rule of thumb is to choose modest or neutral hues and avoid vivid colors and complex patterns, which might be distracting on camera.

The right clothing doesn’t just help leave a good impression on the interviewers but also helps boost your confidence. A study found that 60% of respondents felt more confident in a go-to outfit, especially when it was a big day at the office (perhaps an important presentation or client meeting).

Body language is equally crucial:

  • Maintain good posture, sit up straight and avoid slouching to demonstrate that you are focused and engaged. Body language scores a lot of points. It won’t matter what’s on your resume if you don’t maintain respectful etiquette.
  • Establish eye contact by looking straight into the camera, not at the interviewer’s image on your screen. Although it could feel a little awkward at first, it will give the interviewer the impression that you are speaking with them directly.
  • Use natural hand gestures to help express your enthusiasm for the role—but don’t overdo it.
  • Nod periodically to indicate that you’re paying attention and grin when it feels right to do so. Avoid frequent face- or hair-touching, and scratching your head or any body part vehemently is a big no-no.

4. Presentation matters: Researching the role and company

The last thing you would want to do is look unprepared and confused during the interview. We can’t stress enough the importance of knowing and researching the role and company you’re interviewing for.

  • Thoroughly research the company’s vision, beliefs, offerings and culture. This not only helps in responding to questions more succinctly but also shows your genuine interest in the organization.
  • Understand the job description and align your qualifications with the requirements. Prepare detailed examples from your prior experiences that can demonstrate your suitability for the position.
  • Emphasize your accomplishments, problem-solving abilities, leadership, teamwork and any additional attributes that are pertinent to the position. Don’t digress too much with personal stories.
  • Anticipate common interview questions and practice your responses. To craft a compelling response, employ the STAR technique, which encompasses “Situation”, “Task”, “Action” and “Result”. Use these components to structure and practice your answers effectively.
  • Prepare insightful questions to ask the interviewers, as this can demonstrate your eagerness and interest in the position and the organization. You might inquire about the working environment, team dynamics, job expectations, chances for advancement, etc.

5. Always have a plan B: Backups strategies 

Before your virtual interview, it is essential to have backup plans in place. These can reduce anxiety and shield you from unanticipated events that can ruin your interview.

  • Have a fully-charged backup device, such as a tablet or smartphone, ready with all the necessary software installed.
  • Consider an Ethernet connection as a more stable alternative to Wi-Fi.
  • Keep the interviewers’ contact details handy for emergencies, such as sudden disconnection. In case of a problem, you can call them to explain the situation and possibly perform the interview over the phone or another video conferencing app or reschedule.
  • Save essential documents (e.g. resume, cover letter, portfolio) on a cloud storage service, like Google Drive or Dropbox, for easy access.

Being prepared for a virtual interview is essential, especially when first impressions can be influenced by technical glitches like distorted displays and unreliable microphones. Armed with this knowledge and advice, you are not only ready for the virtual interview environment but also well-positioned to leave a lasting, positive impression on your potential employers.

We wish you success in your interview!

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