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10 tips to nail a virtual interview and land the job

As workplaces continue to evolve, virtual interviews have become the norm. Owing to the unprecedented shifts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, recruiters have turned to virtual interview tools and video conferencing software such as Zoom, Google Meet and Skype among others to screen prospective candidates in an efficient and cost-effective manner. 

For many such probables, especially for first-timers, appearing for a virtual interview can be daunting. Hence, we have rounded up top tips that’ll not only help you put your best forward but also set you on the path of success, even if you are miles away. 

Test your gadgets and internet connection in advance 

virtual interview tips
Image credit: Gabriel Tan/Unsplash

A few hours before your virtual interview, remember to test your internet connection and ensure that it works without glitches. Have a computer that meets all the required technical specifications. Check your camera, microphone, and headset as well by testing them before the call.  

If you experience a grainy image quality or muffled audio, it is best to buy an external webcam with a built-in microphone. A crummy internet connection means frozen videos and unclear audio, which is a deal-breaker. So, make all necessary arrangements to ensure that the connection can stream a good quality video. 

Set the stage and limit distractions 

virtual interview tips
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If you fumble with your computer or change your position during the interview, the employer gets a reason to raise doubts over your candidature, as you may seem like someone who isn’t prepared.   

To avoid giving such an impression, prepare your space in advance by choosing a place with optimal lighting. A blank wall in the backdrop will help you be the focal point of the conversation. Next, try to position your webcam at or slightly above eye level for optimal eye contact. If you don’t have a laptop stand, then you can set it on top of some books.   

Pro Tip: Keep the light in front of you to avoid appearing washed out. Minimise distractions from the scene and tidy it up to seem organised.   

Dress formally  

Dress formally
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A remote interview doesn’t mean it is not real, so dress as you would do for an in-person interview. Formal clothing shows how serious you are about the job and helps establish a good rapport with your interviewer.    

Consider wearing formal attire or business casuals, such as button-down shirts and blazers. Additionally, avoid any flashy colour or overpowering patterns to avoid diverting your interviewer’s attention.    

Rehearse, don’t memorise  

While being interviewed virtually, the probable employer will most likely be able to tell if you are not being authentic or sounding robotic.   

Rehearse your answers for commonly asked questions like “Why are you leaving the job?” or “Why should we hire you?” or “What are your salary expectations” to ensure that you put your best foot forward.  

Research thoroughly about the company and prepare examples of your accomplishments in previous employments. Ascertain your answers do not sound memorised and unnatural.   

Prepare some notes to refer  

Take notes
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Appearing for an interview from home gives you the advantage of keeping a few notes ready and glance at them sparingly if needed. You can write down your ideas, key figures and some more talking points on post-its to seem more prepared and confident.   

Let the conversation flow naturally during the interview. Having a few notes to refer to will help you avoid getting stuck.   

Turn off phone notifications or put it on silent mode 

online interview
Image credit: Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash

The pre-interview checklist dictates (and it goes without saying) turning off your phone notifications before you are online. Sign out of the social media or messaging services that might notify the computer. Close browsers with auto-play audio or video.   

Close your windows to avoid any blaring sirens and traffic horns. Turn off your TV. Make sure to check your surroundings and limit potential distractions before the virtual interview. However, if they happen, don’t panic and take them in stride.   

Maintain professional body language   

You can utilise non-verbal communication via your body language to convey your enthusiasm and confidence. Make sure to maintain a good posture and use optimal eye contact to look engaged.  

You can start with the digital handshake – say hello and look into the camera to smile and nod that exudes confidence and warmth. Research says that recruiters are more likely to remember what a candidate said when they maintained eye contact during the interview.  

Consider these tips to stay poised during the virtual interview: 

  • Try not to fidget or move around during the interview. 
  • Don’t appear static or like a statue that makes the interviewer wonder if you’re connected. Use non-verbal cues such as nod and smile without having to override the interviewer’s mic. 
  • During a video interview, it is a good practice to let the other person finish speaking. Cutting them off may appear rude.  
  • In the same vein, when the person has finished speaking, you can give a visual cue like nodding to convey that you heard the interviewer.   

Build a rapport to stand out  

Establishing rapport with the interviewer will allow you to stand out as a candidate. Use your body language, tone and pitch of your voice, facial expressions, posture, and small talk to your advantage to appear more personable.   

Treat your virtual interview like an in-person conversation while remaining professional. Feel free to come up with questions or converse on a neutral topic to connect with the interviewer and show that you are the right candidate for the job.   

Have a backup plan  

Anyone can tell when a technical glitch happens during a video call. Many a time, despite doing everything within your means, there is a connectivity issue. So, have a backup plan ready in case the video tool breaks or the internet connection fizzles out. You can proceed with a traditional telephonic interview if technology fails you.  

Moreover, if you encounter glitches like a frozen video or echoing audio, you can humbly ask the interviewer to repeat something you missed.    

Follow up  

A well-timed follow up will provide you with the opportunity to resell yourself and share points you may have forgotten to address during the interview. It is a nice touch to send a concise follow-up email to the interviewer and reiterate the excitement by thanking them for taking the time to speak with you. You can also use the email to propose a solution to the unique problem brought up during the interview or elaborate on a point you wish to answer differently.

Hero image: Christin Hume via Unsplash

Akriti Sharma

Full-time writer, part-time science nerd, Akriti switched gears to writing when she was at the precipice of her scientific career as a biotechnologist and never looked back. She loves to write every day and believes in pursuing stories with moral force. She is an enthusiastic traveller, photographer, Chai aficionado, aspiring minimalist and a strong proponent of the Multiverse Theory.

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