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How To Make a Good Impression In a Virtual Interview

How to make a good impression in a virtual interview
Jill Wells
For Candidates

Virtual interviews decoded: Discover key strategies for making an impression online, from professional introductions to handling technical issues.

How to Prepare for a Virtual Interview?

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, remote work is likely to stay around for good. Many companies and workers are choosing to embrace the flexibility of remote work. One of the best benefits of remote work is that it allows greater freedom regarding employment, as potential hires can interview online, rather than travelling for an in-person interview.

Virtual interviews are more popular than ever, but many people still aren’t sure what to expect and aren't well-versed in online interview etiquette and virtual interview do's and don’ts. However, as virtual interviews become more and more commonplace, it’s crucial to familiarise yourself with how to interview well in a virtual setting. Not all in-person techniques work the same or translate to online interviews, so don’t go in unprepared.

Some key things to consider before interviewing for your next job should include:

  • How do you make yourself stand out in a virtual interview?
  • How do you introduce yourself professionally in a virtual interview?
  • How do you ace an online interview?
  • What are the biggest dos and don’ts of virtual interviews?

If you’re still working on honing your virtual interviewing, there’s no need to worry! This article will cover the basics of virtual interviewing, techniques to focus on, and other virtual interview tips to help you make the most of your next interview opportunity!

What is a Virtual Interview?

While virtual interviews can vary according to the employer and other circumstances, a virtual interview indicates that your interview will be done remotely, rather than a traditional in-person interview. Video interviews with technology such as Zoom and Skype are popular, though some companies conduct them over the phone. A remote interview allows people in different cities (or even countries!) to interview like a regular interview.

Top Tips for Your Virtual Interview

To ace your virtual interview, it's crucial to prepare in many of the same ways you would for a traditional interview. However, it’s also important to be aware of how a virtual interview is different and what you’ll need to do. Let’s take a look at some of the key virtual interview do's and don’ts below.

1. Technical Setup: Reliable Internet

One of the most important parts of preparing for your virtual interview is ensuring you have reliable internet. Test your internet connection the day before your interview, plus beforehand to make sure everything is working properly. With a stable internet connection, it can be easier to interview and interact with the interviewer. Don’t let lag and slow audio steal your chances of getting hired! Use a good webcam and microphone, testing them beforehand as needed.

2. Neutral Background

A professional, neutral background is one part of virtual interviewing that is oftentimes overlooked. Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean the interview is casual—or that your interviewer wants to see your messy bed and unfolded laundry. Put pets in another room and let your roommates or household members know that you need a quiet space for interviewing. Think of your background as a bit like your office space. You want a space that is clean, professional, and isn’t filled with distractions. Make sure your face is well-lit, preferably with natural light.

Sometimes there just isn’t a good background available, especially if you’re travelling or live in a small home with multiple people. Virtual backgrounds can be a great option in these situations—but take care to ensure that they’re professional and aren’t disruptive to the interview process.

3. Appearance: Professional Dress

Your interview might be at home, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still dress to impress! When you do a virtual interview, try to dress exactly as you would if it were in person. Pay special attention to your hair and personal grooming to showcase your attention to detail and professional commitment.

4. Preparation

A virtual interview isn’t just about ensuring that your internet is stable or that you have an impressive background. Like any in-person interview, you’ll need to spend time carefully preparing. It’s wise to begin by researching the company and familiarising yourself with its values, culture, accomplishments, and recent news. Be sure that you also understand the role you’re applying for and can explain the unique value that you bring to it. Practice answering common interview questions and get comfortable with describing your skills and background. Prepare relevant examples of your achievements and experiences and present them the same as if you are meeting in person.

Common interview questions include:

  • Why are you interested in this role?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • What are your biggest weaknesses?
  • What do you consider to be your biggest professional achievement?
  • Tell me about a challenge at work and how you dealt with it.
  • What are you looking for in a new position?
  • Why are you leaving your current role?

5. Body Language and Eye Contact

Even in a virtual interview, body language and eye contact should be a high priority. Look at your webcam while you’re interviewing, which gives the impression of eye contact. Sit tall in your chair and lean forward to show engagement, nodding and smiling as appropriate to indicate you’re listening.

6. Clarity in Communication

Good communication skills are especially important in virtual settings, where it can generally be a bit more difficult to hear and understand people. To compensate for this difference, speak clearly and at a moderate pace. Have clear and concise answers prepared, but don’t be afraid to ask for a moment to think if you need it. Whatever you do, take care not to talk over anyone, and be sure to ask questions as needed. Remember, interviews are a conversation.

7. Handling Technical Issues: Stay Calm

Even when you’ve prepared your best, technical issues do sometimes happen. Should one occur, remain calm and address them politely. It’s also wise to have a backup plan available just in case, so have a phone number ready should you need to switch to a phone call.

8. Post-Interview Follow-Up

Last but not least, be sure to send a thank-you email within 24 hours, reiterating your interest in the position and appreciation for the opportunity. This helps the interviewer remember you, as well as demonstrates professional communication.

Acing Virtual Interviews Online

Remember, preparation is key when it comes to virtual interviews! Ultimately, there is no real difference between virtual interviews and live interviews, just the tools and nuances that vary. Good luck!

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