How to Ace an Online or Virtual Interview: Tips for Success

Image of a black man on a computer screen waving to a white female interviewer in the bottom right hand of the screen to signify a virtual interview

In today’s digital age, many jobs are being offered remotely or through virtual interviews. 

This can be a great opportunity for job seekers, but it can also be nerve-wracking if you’re not prepared. 

There are some subtle differences between an online or virtual interview and an in-person interview, so it’s important to know what to expect and how to prepare. 

What is a virtual interview?

A virtual interview, as opposed to an onsite or in-person interview, is an interview conducted over video screen using a webcam and microphone, through such popular services as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex, and others. 

Companies use this method to hire candidates without having to meet them in person or to hire remote, potentially non-local candidates who do not travel into an office regularly.

How is a virtual interview different?

A good virtual interview should not be too different from a normal interview. The goals are the same — listen to what pain points the company is trying to solve with the role, eloquently and succinctly describe your recent and relevant experience, and establish a personal rapport with your interviewer.

The trick with a virtual interview, though, is that most failed virtual interviews occur because of small technicalities. 

Much like Kevin Durant stepping one toe over the 3-point line in the 2021 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals, most candidates fail to put their best foot forward — use the tips below to ensure you make your interview a slam dunk.

How to prepare for an online interview

Test your tech before your online interview

Utilize your recruiter or a friend to test your webcam — both audio and video — to ensure both parties can hear and see each other clearly — especially if the video software you are using is new to you or your computer.

Dress professionally for your virtual interview

COVID-19 and the virtual/remote work revolution have changed many expectations around interviews. 

Some companies still expect a pantsuit or suit-and-tie, but in other situations, especially tech, creative or digital fields, this can be seen as too stuffy, even for final-round interviews. 

Use your recruiter to confirm what the appropriate dress would be for an interview at each stage.

Find good lighting for your online interview

When a documentary filmmaker shoots an interview, they think of three sources — the front, the back, and the “key” or primary or most intense source of light.

Without going too overboard, you want the key light to be on your face, the front light to be stronger than the backlight, and the backlight to be strong enough to eliminate shadows but weaker than the other two sources so it does not create shadows on your face.

Sounds like a lot, right? 

Our solution? Buy a ring light. They are specially designed to create this effect and can be a game-changer in an interview setting.

Pick a good background for your virtual interview

This is probably the most important factor in an online or virtual interview. ANY acceptable background is a good background as long as it doesn’t draw attention away from YOU. 

Ideally, a monochromatic wall is great, as long as you are not losing good lighting to do so. 

If you do have objects in the background, ensure the space is as tidy as possible. A bookshelf or office is also okay, again so long as objects that are visible do not distract from your interview.

Remove distractions before your online interview

While you may want to keep your phone on you in case of scheduling emergencies, ensure the other notifications on your cell and computer are off and the only tabs you have open are required for the interview.

If you live with others, let them know you will be interviewing and ask that they do not create unnecessary noise or interruptions during the interview.

Choose a comfortable setting for your virtual interview

Since you can take the interview from anywhere, choose a place that will be the most comfortable for you. 

If your home is not up to snuff, you could use a co-working space or a conference room you could reserve at your local library or community center. 

It is generally not advised to take a video interview where interviewers can see you from your car, a coffee shop, or outside except in extenuating circumstances. 

Use your recruiter to find a solution in case of difficulties!

Preparing for an online interview

Paying attention to the details is key in a virtual interview so use your recruiter to ensure you are putting your best foot forward!

Dress professionally, find good lighting, and remove distractions from your environment. Choose a comfortable setting that will allow you to focus on the questions being asked. 

With a little preparation, you’ll be ready to take on any online interview that comes your way.

Looking for your next Tech, Creative, or Digital Marketing gig? Let us help. 

Every year, Mondo helps over 2,000 candidates find jobs they love.

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