9 Tips to Crush Your Virtual Interview

In the last few weeks, the coronavirus has a new competitor for Most Alarming Statistic: the unemployment rate. But in spite of the 30 million Americans that have lost their jobs in the past 6 weeks, companies are still hiring. With social distancing measures still in place, your interview process might look a little different than usual. Virtual interviews have replaced in-person meetings, as companies with a hiring need don't have time to waste. Are you someone who benefits from a face-to-face? Don't let this new format scare you – with our suggestions, you'll easily become the top candidate.

man sitting at home ready for a virtual interview

Get dressed.

It should go without saying, but weeks of pajama pants may have infected your brain: wear what you would wear to a real interview. This includes pants. If something were to happen that would cause you to stand up, you don't want to be seen in those saggy house pants.

Check your tech.

Beforehand, give your video chat software a test with someone else. Make sure your microphone is working and the volume is acceptable on your end. While some tech tweaking is expected during a video meeting, being able to continue without it makes the process smoother. Also, triple check that your location will receive a solid wifi signal throughout the call.

Choose your background wisely.

No, we don't mean a virtual background in Zoom. Select a wall with a simple background - some small framed artwork or plants are a decent backdrop. Avoid windows that will add backlighting, and try not to use a lamp as your only light source. Sitting near a window can provide some nice natural lighting and will keep you looking fresh for the call.

Prepare your computer for screensharing.

Clean off your desktop and choose a good background. If you'll be pulling up a browser at any point, make sure you don't have any other tabs open or any bookmark bar items with questionable names. Have your portfolio website or PDF ready to go so you aren't fumbling to find it when the time comes.

Feed your pet and take out your dog.

It's safe to say that most people are very understanding that this is an adjustment period for those of us who weren't frequent virtual meeting attendees, but the last thing you want is a whiny pet at your door. Take care of your pets a little more than usual before heading into the interview (don't forget to block the view of that pesky mailman!) and you won't have to worry about a keyboard-stomping cat or a barking-in-the-background dog.

Keep notes open.

Have some key points you'd like to get across during this interview? Take advantage of the format and have a small cheat sheet of notes you keep on your screen while meeting. Remove whenever you screen share, and maybe keep the window small if you wear glasses and a reflection is visible.

Try to make eye contact.

In person, it's easy to connect with someone you meet by making eye contact, but in a virtual situation, it's not as simple. Try moving the window with your interviewer's image close to your camera – this better mimics real-life eye contact, as you'll be speaking almost directly to the camera.

Don't interrupt.

On some platforms, speaking can mute the other's microphone. Allowing slightly longer pauses so your interviewer can finish speaking will keep the conversation flow natural, even if it feels unnatural. Also, while a normal interview would contain many instances of you affirming their statements with "mm-hmm"s or "yeah"s, doing so in a virtual circumstance can interrupt their sentence by overriding their microphone. Instead, try nodding when you would normally interject with a quick "yes."

Roll with the changes.

If something goes wrong, acknowledge it and move along. Dog barges in? Say "hey buddy," lead him out, and come back in and apologize. Connection poor? Suggest switching to a phone call. People are just human, so mistakes aren't the end of the world. Just be sure to be flexible and laugh them off instead of letting them ruin your mood (and your chances of being hired).

Let these tips guide your virtual interview, and you should make it to the next stage in no time!