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Virtual interview tips that can help you on the job hunt

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This article has been vetted by University of Phoenix's editorial advisory committee. 
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Jessica Roper, MBA, Director of Career Services

Reviewed by Jessica Roper, MBA, Director of Career Services

At a glance

  • Virtual interviews are more common than ever, so learning best practices can help interviewees make a good first impression.
  • Good ways to prepare include arriving on time to your call, having a simple background that isn’t distracting and being dressed appropriately.
  • If you’re not familiar with the interview platform such as Zoom or Teams, download it in advance and practice a call with a friend.
  • Learn more about career support, tools and resources through University of Phoenix!

This article was updated on December 5, 2023.

As videoconferencing tools rise in popularity, their use in the professional sphere has also increased. One area of business that has ramped up is human resources and hiring operations.

A remote interview is one that takes place using a video call on a computer or mobile device. These types of interviews have several benefits for employers and potential employees. Virtual interviews allow candidates from all over the country or world to apply for opportunities without paying to travel long distances. Knowing how to effectively interview virtually is one of the first steps of career success.

Preparing for and conducting virtual interviews is different from in-person interviews. However, there are several steps you can take to improve your success in remote interviews.

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Choose the right background

When preparing for a virtual interview, you want to consider the first impression you will give. In a remote setting, that impression isn’t just about you as an individual but your setting as well. That’s why you need to consider your background for the call.

Choose an area of your house that isn’t cluttered and is well lighted. Having too much going on in the background causes distractions. If a recruiter is distracted, it directs attention away from your conversation.

Before the interview, ask yourself: Do I need to straighten up my space? Do I need an extra lamp? What kind of image do I present on camera?

Choosing the right background can improve your video call experience and convey to the recruiter or hiring manager that you’re an organized and prepared person. It’s also a chance to show the interviewer a bit of your personality. Feel free to include some artwork or plants in the background to add a more personal touch. Or opt for one of the platforms’ virtual background. Doing so eliminates any variables like children or pets acting up in the background.

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Prepare notes

In any job interview, important information is exchanged. That’s the point of an interview, after all. For this reason, it’s important to take notes before and, if necessary, during your interview.

Before the interview process gets fully underway, research the company to which you are applying and take notes about its operations and the department you would be working with. You may also choose to do preliminary research on what salary range is acceptable for your desired position. Be sure to note highlights from your work experience that are relevant to the position you are applying for so you don’t forget to mention them.

During your interview, take notes about what you learn. Start with the name of your interviewer and include important information you learn about the open position as well as questions you’d like to ask toward the end of the interview.

Dress appropriately

Although your interview is remote, you need to dress appropriately. Of course, defining “appropriate” depends on your generation, style and industry. Many people are moving toward more expressive styles.

Considerations for your interview outfit include:

  • Do I feel like myself? While it’s important to look nice and be professional, it’s also important to be comfortable. Make sure your interview outfit doesn’t feel like a costume you’re trying on.
  • Do I look professional in a way that fits my industry? Not every industry has the same standards of what it means to look professional. A law student applying for a job at a law firm will dress differently for their interview than a fashion designer or a chef would.
  • Am I as professional as possible in a way that matches my style? Don’t be afraid to let your own style show! Choose colors and patterns you enjoy wearing.

By asking yourself these questions, you can ensure that you choose an outfit that makes you feel confident while still being appropriate for your video interview. 

Don’t keep your interviewer waiting

Punctuality is vital. Being on time for your interview shows that you take the role and your work seriously.

Keeping your interviewer waiting can leave a poor first impression. (You can’t even blame your tardiness on traffic!) If you’re worried about being late, sit down at your computer 15 minutes before your interview to enjoy a cup of coffee and wait for your interviewer to join the chat room.

Test your internet in advance

The last thing you want is for your virtual interview to be interrupted because of a bad internet connection. You want to show your potential employer you are well prepared for a variety of situations. Having to pause or stop an interview because of a poor connection on your end doesn’t give that impression.

One way to avoid this type of mishap is to check your internet connection before your interview time. This can include running an internet speed test to ensure you have a powerful enough Wi-Fi signal to conduct your interview. You may also choose to keep a LAN cable handy in case your Wi-Fi signal is interrupted.

Testing your webcam and microphone after you check your internet is also a good idea. This way you are even more well prepared.

Maintain eye contact with the camera

There are certain parts of communication that are nonverbal. Actions, such as body language, eye contact and a strong handshake, can go a long way toward making an interviewer like you and improve your chances of being hired.

Some of these forms of nonverbal communication are eliminated during a virtual interview. However, one that you can maintain in a remote setting is eye contact.

When you are being interviewed, maintain eye contact with your camera. This will demonstrate your confidence and help establish a rapport with your interviewers.

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Practice with the platform you’ll be using

If you don’t have much experience with the virtual interview process, it can benefit you as an applicant to become familiar with the platform your interviewer will be using to meet with you. Possible videoconferencing platforms include Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams.

If you’re not familiar with your interviewer’s platform, create an account and practice by conducting a call with a friend or family member. Conducting a practice call will help you understand how the platform works and how best to present yourself.

Avoid monologuing

If you’re nervous about what you’ll say during your interview, you may be tempted to rehearse a scripted speech detailing your credentials and experience. While it’s helpful to practice certain parts of what you would like to say, it isn’t good to sit on a virtual call and monologue for an extended period.

Focus on engaging with your interviewer, asking questions and practicing active listening. By focusing more on developing a worthwhile conversation and less on listing your credentials from a script, you can build a deeper connection with your interviewer.

Ask thoughtful questions

One way to make a conversation more engaging is to ask thoughtful questions. Engaging with the hiring manager this way can help you demonstrate interest in both your interviewer and the company they work for. Also, the ability to ask questions is a valuable communication skill for resumés of all types.

Examples of thoughtful questions you can pose include:

  • What is your top priority when hiring for this position?
  • What are milestones you’d like to see for the first 100 days in this position?
  • How would you describe your company culture?
  • What challenges does your team currently face?

These questions show that you’re thinking critically about the information in front of you and that you’re interested in learning more about the company.

Stay engaged afterward

Candidates should promptly and thoughtfully respond to all communications employers send after remote interviews. Staying engaged can demonstrate strong communication skills, which are valuable for remote workers in all industries.

Staying in touch with prospective employers or recruiters can potentially help you find new career opportunities in the future, even if you’re not hired for the specific position for which you’ve applied.

Undergoing virtual interviews for open job positions is becoming more commonplace in the modern job-hunting experience. By putting your best foot forward, communicating effectively and being prepared, you can build positive connections with hiring professionals all over the country and increase potential career opportunities along the way.

Michael Feder

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Feder is a content marketing specialist at University of Phoenix, where he researches and writes on a variety of topics, ranging from healthcare to IT. He is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars program and a New Jersey native!

 

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