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Nailing the Virtual Interview: 16 Tips and Lessons Learned

In navigating the nuances of virtual interviews, sixteen professionals, from career coaches to CEOs, have shared their wisdom. From the importance of practicing responses on camera to the significance of following up with developed ideas, this compilation offers a comprehensive guide to making a lasting impression in the digital interview landscape.

  • Practice Responses on Camera
  • Stage Your Interview Environment
  • Create a Relevant Background
  • Treat Virtual Interviews Seriously
  • Showcase Abilities with Visuals
  • Forge Genuine Interviewer Connections
  • Leverage Multiple Screens for Research
  • Research Company Culture Thoroughly
  • Ensure Professional Visual Presentation
  • Prepare Environment and Tech
  • Simulate Eye Contact with Camera
  • Ask Insightful Company Questions
  • Arrive Early to Virtual Interviews
  • Set Realistic Work-Life Boundaries
  • Dress Formally for Virtual Interviews
  • Follow Up with Developed Ideas

Practice Responses on Camera

I’ve helped many people successfully prepare for interviews and get the job offer they want. One simple but absolutely critical part of preparation that many people skip is rehearsing their responses to common or likely interview questions.

Not only should they write down the main points they want to get across (i.e., making sure they get to talk about their best qualifications and strengths), but they should also practice speaking them out loud on camera with eye contact. Rehearsing is a best practice for every type of interview, but doing so in front of a camera for virtual interviews could make the difference between a smooth, confident delivery and awkward pauses and filler words. If you really want the job, invest the time in rehearsing out loud on camera.

Linda EvansLinda Evans
Career Coach, Launched By Linda

Stage Your Interview Environment

One thing that people neglect during virtual interviews is staging. We focus so much on ourselves—what we wear, what we say, and how we present ourselves. But often, we forget to pay attention to our environments.

I’ve been on more calls than I can count where people have had dirty laundry, unmade beds, and potentially offensive materials in their surroundings. So, take a few minutes and think about how your interviewer might perceive the things that are within the frame, and adjust accordingly.

Additionally, you might consider what would resonate with your interviewer. For example, certain book titles could amplify something you’re trying to communicate about yourself, your knowledge, and experience.

Dennis ConsorteDennis Consorte
Digital Marketing and Leadership Consultant for Startups, Snackable Solutions

Create a Relevant Background

Instead of turning on a virtual or blurred background, create a space behind you that is not only visually appealing but also grabs the attention of the interviewers. While some people think that a virtual/blurred background is preferred, it can be very distracting, as it often makes part of your hair or body disappear.

I know it can be challenging, depending on the home’s setup, but if possible, choose background objects that are aligned with where you are interviewing. Talking to someone at an environmental startup? Turn your camera towards your plants in a window. Having a panel interview for a creative job? Position your laptop so that you can showcase unusual art on your walls. Meeting with the CEO of a restaurant group? Dazzle them with your fancy espresso machine. Interviews, virtual or in-person, should be an opportunity to showcase who you are, so let your background be a compelling part of your interview story.

Denise FowlerDenise Fowler
Founder and Career Coach, Career Happiness Coaching

Treat Virtual Interviews Seriously

Take it seriously. Don’t mistake a virtual interview as being more informal than one conducted in person. A virtual interview is not merely about convenience. It’s an opportunity for the interviewer to assess you on several different levels.

For that reason, it’s not something you want to take “on the fly”—squeezing it in around other activities, like walking or driving to another meeting, or taking an extended break in a noisy coffee shop. Dedicate time in your calendar, and make sure to include a time buffer between commitments. Rushing to an interview from another meeting or appearing anxious to end the interview so you can get to your next meeting doesn’t work in your favor when you are striving to make a strong impression.

Find a quiet space, be mindful of any distractions like noise and activity around you, and take a minute or two to reset, so that when you show up, you’re fully present and prepared. It’s important because that’s exactly what the person who is about to interview you did. They blocked time in their calendar—dedicating a portion of their day to give their full attention to you. Being fully present and prepared respects their interest and their time.

Jennifer LeeJennifer Lee
Life and Career Coach, Up Front Coach

Showcase Abilities with Visuals

Look really carefully at the requirements and expectations of the job. Can you find one way to visually showcase your ability to deliver on this based on either past performance or through another avenue, with proven results?

Mock up something that particularly stands out. Ask the interview contact if you will be able to share your screen. If so, prepare a few answers that allow you to refer back to this document. If not, ask if you can share it in advance so that you may refer to it. Save a few items for the follow-up—a great way to stand out in the thank-you process is to include a takeaway like this that points back to their needs and your reminder that you can deliver on it.

Also, don’t overthink this. So few candidates go the extra mile like this; remember to keep it simple, relevant to their needs, and visually nice and professional. Remote work is competitive! This tip can help you stand out.

Nikki Ryberg, MHRLR, CPRW, GCDFNikki Ryberg, MHRLR, CPRW, GCDF
Career Coach, Ryberg Group, LLC

Forge Genuine Interviewer Connections

Creating a genuine connection goes a long way. In my hiring experience, I have found that this will leave a lasting impression on their overall performance. This is a crucial part of virtual interviews, which has the potential to make you different from other applicants.

Connecting with interviewers is best accomplished by connecting with yourself. Going beyond the interview and expressing your personality and enthusiasm is where the connection starts. Telling relevant tales of previous working experience, along with highlighting your skills, naturally explains how you are as a working professional.

Asking insightful questions that show your genuine interest in the company and expressing your enthusiasm for the position are some other useful ways to connect with interviewers. Virtual interviews are also conversations; hence, it is important to treat the interview panel as if you were meeting them in person.

Ben RichardsonBen Richardson
Director, Acuity Training

Leverage Multiple Screens for Research

Having your research open on a different screen is one advantage of online meetings, as you can have multiple screens at the same time. I use my laptop with an ultrawide screen on the desk positioned above it.

This setup allows me to have my notes about the company in front of me, enabling me to ask in-depth questions about job-related things that demonstrate: 1) That I have done my research, and 2) That I understand the challenges of the position, situation, or role. Additionally, you can quickly Google things related to the context and come across as more knowledgeable.

Dag FlachetDag Flachet
Co-Founder and Professor, Codific

Research Company Culture Thoroughly

Researching the company beforehand is crucial. Doing your own research on the company before the interview will show that potential employer that you are actually interested in the company itself and not just a paycheck. Not to mention, researching the company will also give you a feel for the company’s culture and whether or not you feel a fit with said company.

I recommend digging through the company’s website for first-hand research on what they stand for and how they function. From there, I highly suggest checking out their reviews on a website like Glassdoor, which will show you reviews from past and current employees. Bonus tip: You might even be able to find the questions they’ll ask you for your interview on Glassdoor too!

Matthew JohnsonMatthew Johnson
Paid Media Manager, MWI

Ensure Professional Visual Presentation

When doing a video job interview, it’s important to make eye contact with the interviewer. Ensure your camera setup allows for this by using Zoom to see yourself on camera and adjust your setup accordingly. In speaker view, aim to make eye contact as if you were in the room with them.

Additionally, choose clothing that stands out against your backdrop and ensure your face is well-lit without causing glare on glasses, if you wear them. I achieve this by using a ring light and directing the light to reflect off a wall onto my face. However, most people can set up their lighting to avoid having a dark appearance without the need for a ring light.

Make sure your background is uncluttered and does not distract from the focus on you during the interview.

Jeff AltmanJeff Altman
Global Job Search Coach, The Big Game Hunter, Inc.

Prepare Environment and Tech

Start by giving your housemates a heads-up about your upcoming interview—share the date and time. Right before the interview begins, casually remind them to keep things quiet and distraction-free while you’re in action. It’s a bonus if you can coax them into a separate room to give you some space and help you stay focused.

Consider hopping onto the interview call a cool five minutes early. This not only ensures your tech is running smoothly but also gives you a buffer for any unexpected hiccups. While you wait, hit that mute button; it’s standard practice and keeps things professional.

Turn off all notifications five minutes before the interview, both on your phone and laptop.

David Skinner
David Skinner, Commercial Kitchen Designer, TAG Catering Equipment

Simulate Eye Contact with Camera

It’s very tempting during a virtual interview to look at yourself on the computer screen instead of looking into the camera or at the interviewer(s). This can be because of nerves, habit, or you simply may not even realize you’re doing it.

Looking people in the eye as much as possible, even if it’s virtually, helps you to create a connection with the person you’re speaking with. This shows you are confident and are not easily distracted. I recommend looking right into the camera, or at least at the person on your screen. It’s obvious when you are looking elsewhere, and it can make you seem disinterested.

Scott EvansScott Evans
Co-Founder, Pink Self Storage

Ask Insightful Company Questions

In my experience, one thing you can do to excel in virtual interviews and make a positive impression on interviewers is to use your time wisely.

It’s tempting to spend all your time talking about yourself, but that’s not what the interviewer wants to hear. You’re not there for them; you’re there for yourself!

So, instead of talking about yourself, ask questions about what the role will entail. What are the challenges? What are the opportunities? What skills are most important for this position? How does this company function?

By asking these types of questions, you’ll be able to demonstrate that you’re genuinely interested in working with them—and they’ll see that they have an opportunity to work with someone who really gets it!

Gert KullaGert Kulla
CEO, Batlinks

Arrive Early to Virtual Interviews

Arriving five minutes early is a stellar tip for virtual interviews. It not only showcases your punctuality but also demonstrates your eagerness and professionalism. Being prompt sets a positive tone and reveals your commitment to the interview process.

By joining early, you signal that you value the interviewer’s time and are well-prepared for the virtual meeting. It allows you to troubleshoot any technical issues beforehand, ensuring a smooth and uninterrupted interview experience. Additionally, it gives you a moment to compose yourself, review key points, and enter the conversation with confidence.

This small window of early arrival is a golden opportunity to make a lasting first impression. It reflects your proactive approach and attention to detail—qualities that resonate positively with potential employers. Remember, in the virtual realm, where impressions are formed quickly, those five minutes can make a significant impact on how you are perceived throughout the interview.

So, seize the chance to stand out from the start by being the candidate who not only meets expectations but exceeds them with promptness and preparedness.

Mahesh  KumarMahesh Kumar
Spokesperson, Transcription Certification Institute

Set Realistic Work-Life Boundaries

It’s essential to resist the temptation to pledge constant availability or a 24/7 online presence. While dedication is valued, setting realistic expectations is equally important.

Being upfront about the boundaries and limitations of remote work helps in establishing trust and authenticity. Instead of committing to an unsustainable level of availability, emphasize your commitment to productivity, timely communication, and meeting deadlines.

Discuss how you manage your time effectively, prioritize tasks, and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Interviewers appreciate candidates who are honest about their capabilities and are proactive in finding effective solutions.

Striking the right balance between commitment and practicality not only makes a positive impression during the interview but also lays the foundation for a successful and sustainable remote working relationship.

Diana RoyantoDiana Royanto
Writer, Milkwhale

Dress Formally for Virtual Interviews

In the age of remote work, a vital tip for excelling in virtual interviews—particularly in fields like accounting—is to dress professionally, typically opting for a suit and tie or a formal shirt. This approach is reinforced in my workplace, where the consensus is to treat virtual interviews with the same level of formality as in-person ones.

While some may consider a button-down shirt adequate, the prevalent opinion is to err on the side of formality. This demonstrates seriousness and respect for the interview process, ensuring a positive impression on interviewers.

Michael FerraraMichael Ferrara
Information Technology Specialist, Conceptual Technology

Follow Up with Developed Ideas

In remote job interviews, particularly in marketing and SEO, it’s common to brainstorm ideas on the spot. However, these ideas typically remain undeveloped within the interview’s time constraints.

I find it particularly impressive when candidates, post-interview, take the initiative to expand one of these ideas into a concrete project and share it with me. This level of dedication and proactivity in a virtual setting is a compelling reason to consider such candidates for the role.

Robert BrandlRobert Brandl
Founder and CEO, EmailToolTester

Submit Your Answer

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