How to prepare for a virtual interview – tips for candidates


As coronavirus restrictions continue into 2021, virtual interviews are becoming the standard practice in the hiring process in all sectors and across all industries. This is great for those already up to speed on webcam technology; however, this prospect can be daunting for some, and may even put many off applying for jobs in the first place. With that in mind, here are a list of the best tips, things to avoid, and ways of making a good impression in online interviews, which will hopefully elevate some of the stress surrounding virtual recruitment.

By James McKean

What tips are there for candidates interviewing virtually?

Don’t be too Relaxed

First of, candidates should prepare for their interview well in advance. The idea of a virtual interview has the potential to lead candidates into a false sense of security – online interviews tend to be conducted in a setting that the candidate is familiar with, and hence, will more likely make them feel as though nothing can go wrong.

However, just because the interview is being conducted from the comfort of one’s home doesn’t mean preparation should fall to the wayside. There are just as many variables to consider in conducting a virtual interview than there are for in-person interviews.

Also, just because you are at home does not mean you can cheat, or quickly google answers to questions when asked. This kind of ill preparation won’t go unnoticed, and its best to research the company you are applying for prior the interview, just as you would for a physical interview, and prepare yourself for any questions that may be asked.

Virtual interview preparationEnsure Technology and Software is Working

The main form of preparation that should be carried out by the candidate is to check that all electronics are working efficiently enough to perform smoothly during the interview. The last thing you want in a virtual interview is to be faced with an unexpected technical difficulty or complete programme shutdown.

Its best to download whatever platform the interview is scheduled to be conducted over – whether that be Skype, Zoom, or Hirevue – in order to make sure it functions well on your device.

It could be an idea to ask a friend to help you carry out a dry run of the interview, particularly if the interview is being conducted over a platform you are not familiar with, in order to check you are up to speed with the technologies of said platform, and to generally make yourself more comfortable with the software.

Of course, doing a dry run interview would also be a good way of checking that your headphones and microphone are also in working order.

Determine the Best Setting

Think of the setting you choose to conduct the interview in as an extension of you – there’s no point dressing up for the interview if your surroundings are untidy.

It would be best to position yourself at a desk, with a blank wall or window nearby in order to allow for optimum lighting and to maintain yourself as the focal point.

Treat the room as you would an office – don’t leave washing or mess in the surrounding area.

Make sure that your chosen seat is comfortable and provides the best back support for you to convey positive body language.

Also, make sure your chosen room is free from being interrupted by any outside noise, and that during the interview, your television and cell phone are switched off.

Avoid Talking Over Your Interviewer

With unexpected connection issues this may sometimes be unavoidable. However, one way of keeping this to a minimum is by making sure that the interviewer has reached the end of the question before answering. This can be achieved by taking your time in answering, and even leaving a few seconds space between question and response. You could even utilise these couple of seconds to properly think about your answer in your head before responding.

Eating or Drinking

Water is of course fine, but anything else will could give a negative impression, and may even leave the interviewer thinking that you are more interested in the food or drink than the job itself!

what to wear virtual interviewHow to dress for a virtual interview?

Just because you are at home doesn’t mean you should wear comfortable clothes – you should dress almost exactly as you would for an in-person interview, bar, maybe, shoes. This means a suit, if you have one, or a well ironed shirt and tie. With webcams and software getting increasingly more advanced by the day, the interviewer is sure to pick up on dirty or creased garments.

Dressing well may also set you in better stead mentally for the interview, knowing you are dressed well, you may well feel more professional and capable of presenting decorum.

Eye Contact

Even although you and your interviewer could be miles apart, maintaining eye contact is essential in order to make a good impression. One way of ensuring this is by making sure your webcam is at eye-level, and that you are always staring into the webcam.

With virtual interviews, the urge is there to look at yourself on the screen and see how you are coming across. Although this may seem beneficial, not making direct eye contact will not come across well to the interviewer.

Body Language

As aforementioned, choosing the right seat is important to ensure that you are comfortable throughout the interview, but it is also important in order to convey the best body language to your interviewer.

Given that the entire physical element of the interview is removed, it is often hard to convey positive body language, given that you can’t handshake or appropriately greet your interviewer, or perhaps gesticulate as much as you would like.

In order to make up for this lacking, be sure to choose a comfortable seat that allows you to sit up straight and maintain a good posture throughout the interview. Perhaps also position the seat far enough away from the webcam in order to fit in essential hand gestures.