July 30, 2020  |  Purdue Global  |  Updated March 2, 2023

Over the past decade, technology advances have dramatically changed the face of the recruitment and hiring process. Today, companies can identify candidates and learn all about them through their social media profiles, particularly on LinkedIn.

One key trend is the virtual job interview. Having gained steam during the COVID-19 lockdown, this alternative to in-person interviews shows no signs of slowing down. A survey by Indeed indicates that 82% of employers use video interviews and 93% plan to continue using them. Candidates seem to like them, too. A survey by ICIMS says 94% of candidates like virtual interviews, and 83% of them think employers who use them are more innovative. 

If you're ready to pursue a new career or change roles within your field, now's the time to start prepping for job interviews. Whether you're preparing for a video interview or an in-person one, many of the same rules apply. Start by doing your homework on the company and the job requirements, practice responding to frequently asked questions, know why you are the right candidate for the job, and so on.

>> Learn the Top 6 Soft Skills that Employers Want

But if you're preparing for a virtual interview, you need some specific video interview tips. Here are 10 guidelines for a successful virtual interview.

1. Prepare the Setting

Set the stage for a professional meeting by choosing a quiet location. If possible, position your computer and webcam so there's a blank wall behind you. That way the interviewer's attention will stay on you. If that's not possible, choose a space that has a professional appearance—a room that has a desk or bookshelves is a great choice. Most importantly, make sure your environment is free of background noise (e.g., television, the buzzing of a fan) and personal items (e.g., laundry, kid’s toys) and that you've eliminated the possibility of interruptions.

2. Test the Technology

Make sure that all of your technology is working as expected. That means you've downloaded and tested the video software that will be used during the interview (many companies use tools like Skype, Zoom, or Teams), your internet connection is secure, and the webcam and microphone function properly. Plug in your laptop if that’s how you’re connecting. If you need to call in using a cell phone, make sure your battery is fully charged.

3. Be Ready for Glitches

Despite your preparation, you may experience unexpected issues, such as connection or software problems. If using an app to connect, restart it. Do a quick restart of your laptop or device. Have your phone ready if you quickly need to switch, or send an email notifying your interviewer of your problems. If you're preparing for a career in which you'll work with others in various locations around the country or the world, like in business or information technology (IT), being technologically confident and able to troubleshoot effectively in a virtual environment is a critical part of the job. 

4. Dress the Part

You might be doing the interview from home, but that doesn't mean it's OK to wear your everyday clothes. Indeed recommends dressing the same way you'd dress for an interview at the company's office. If you're unsure of what to wear, always err on the side of more professional than casual.

5. Join on Time

Even though you aren’t walking through a door to sit in a waiting room, there are time expectations. While you don’t need to show up 15 minutes early like you would in person, you do need to be on time for a virtual interview. Sign in a few minutes before the assigned meeting time so you can address any technical issues that could pop up and be ready to go on time. Showing up late for a video interview sends a bad signal about your punctuality and readiness to work.

6. Do Your Research

Come prepared to speak and answer questions intelligently. Research what the company does and rehearse your talking points. Dig deeper than a quick online search and learn everything you can about the prospective employer. Doing your research also means having questions prepared to ask your interviewer. Always avoid asking basic questions that can be found on the employer’s own website. Instead, ask about the expectations for the job, how success is measured, and where the company is headed in the next 3–5 years..

7. Keep Some Notes Handy

Some standard questions can be expected, such as your most impactful work experience or examples of when you worked through a problem. Sort out your notes by topic, such as accomplishments and notable projects. Have some bullet points ready to go, but don’t read from a piece of paper. Use your notes to foster conversation instead of a monologue.

8. Pay Attention to Your Body Language

The way you express yourself with body language becomes even more critical when a job interview is conducted virtually. You can no longer rely on physical interaction like shaking hands, but you can do some things to build a connection with the interviewer. Sit up straight, smile, and look at the webcam rather than at the computer screen to create the illusion of eye contact. Remember to keep your energy level up, too, because your enthusiasm for the job may be harder to read from miles away.

9. Be Confident

It’s easy to be overwhelmed or stressed by interviews, but being prepared and comfortable with your answers will help you project confidence. If you need to, ask your interviewer if you can take a moment to gather yourself. This can be an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to stay calm and confident under pressure.

10. Don’t Forget to Practice

Ask a friend or family member to play the role of the interviewer in a few trial runs. Conducting a mock interview will help you identify any issues (such as a faulty webcam or microphone) that need to be fixed before the real thing. It will also ease your concerns about how you look and sound to someone on the other end of the connection. A mock interview is also a great opportunity to test out and refine your answers. 

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