How to Prepare for a Virtual Interview

“How to Prepare for a Virtual Interview” is a burning question as face-to-face interviews transition to virtual, mastering the nuances of virtual interactions is more vital than ever. While some aspects of traditional interviews remain unchanged, virtual interviews present their unique set of challenges:

  • Setting the stage: Choosing the right location and background.
  • Technical readiness: Ensuring a stable internet connection and familiarizing oneself with the chosen software.
  • Presentation: Dressing appropriately and setting the right lighting.
  • Virtual etiquette: Understanding online interview do’s and don’ts.

This article aims to dig deep into each of these elements, ensuring you present your best self, even from behind a screen.

Virtual Interview Technical Preparations

When preparing for a virtual interview, I cannot underscore enough how important it is to ensure you are technically prepared and avoid the embarrassment of being late or worse yet, not being able to log in at all!  Here are a few tricks to ensure you are technically prepared:

Test Your Equipment:

  • Stability is Key: Before anything else, confirm you have a robust internet connection. The last thing you’d want is to be cut off mid-sentence.
  • Visibility and Audibility: Your camera and microphone aren’t just accessories; they’re your virtual presence. Ensure both are functional and clear.
  • Minimize Distractions: Using headphones can be pivotal. Not only do they generally offer clearer sound, but they also reduce the chances of unexpected background noises.

Choose an Appropriate Software:

  • Know Your Platforms: Whether it’s Zoom, Skype, or Microsoft Teams, being familiar with the platform prevents awkward hiccups during the interview.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: When possible, it is always a good idea to run a test. Join a mock meeting or call to get the hang of the platform’s features.

Set Up a Professional Background:

  • Location Matters: A quiet space, devoid of interruptions and clutter, not only looks professional but also allows you to focus.
  • The Right Backdrop: A neutral setting is often best. However, if your space isn’t interview-worthy, most platforms offer virtual backgrounds. Opt for something understated to keep the interviewer’s attention on you.

In a virtual world, your technical setup can set the tone for your entire interview. Ensuring it’s flawless is half the battle won.

Virtual Presentation and Etiquette

One of the key things to keep in mind is that in a virtual interview, the aesthetics and mannerisms you present can carry as much weight as your responses. Here’s your guide to mastering both:

Dress Professionally:

  • Partial Visibility, Full Professionalism: Although the camera might capture just the upper half of your body, it’s essential to dress entirely professionally. It psychologically prepares you and instills confidence.
  • Keep It Subtle: Choose attire that isn’t overly flashy. Remember, you want the interviewer focused on your words, not your wardrobe.

Practice Good Body Language:

  • Eye Contact Matters: When you look directly into the camera, it translates as eye contact in a virtual setup. It demonstrates attentiveness and confidence.
  • Posture and Presence: Sitting upright isn’t just good for your back; it exudes attentiveness. Ensure you’re fully engaged in the conversation and refrain from fidgeting.

Minimize Distractions:

  • Household Members: A crucial conversation is about to take place. Inform everyone at home about your interview to prevent unexpected interruptions.
  • Pets and Phones: As adorable as pets are, they might not be the best co-interviewees. Ensure they’re comfortably settled in another room. Similarly, keep mobile phones and other gadgets silenced to maintain your focus and the flow of the conversation.

Remember, a virtual interview mirrors an in-person one in many aspects. Presentation and etiquette are crucial; they set the stage before you even utter a word.

Virtual Interview Preparation

How you prepare for a virtual interview is largely the same with regard to preparation.  Your knowledge of the company and the eloquence of your responses will set you apart. Here’s a structured approach to ace that digital face-to-face:

Research the Company:

  • Digital Yet Traditional: Just because it’s virtual doesn’t mean you skimp on the research. Familiarize yourself with the company’s history, values, and latest ventures, as you would for a traditional interview.
  • Remote Culture Nuances: Since it’s a virtual platform, a special emphasis should be on understanding the company’s remote work culture. Demonstrating that you can seamlessly fit into their digital workspace can be a significant plus.

Prepare Your Answers:

  • Anticipate and Articulate: It’s beneficial to have a mental roadmap of potential interview questions. These could range from your strengths and weaknesses to situational queries.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: There’s a marked difference between thinking an answer and saying it out loud. Practicing your responses vocally helps refine them and makes your delivery smoother.

Have Questions Ready:

  • Show Genuine Interest: Asking the interviewer questions isn’t just about clarifying your doubts; it’s a demonstration of your genuine interest in the position and the company.
  • Remote-Work Specifics: Dive into the company’s remote work protocols, digital tools employed, and communication expectations if this is a virtual role.  This will offer insights into your day-to-day role and showcase your forward-thinking approach.

By integrating these preparation steps, you’re not just readying yourself for a virtual interview but also highlighting your adaptability and thoroughness in the digital age.

The Day of the Interview

This is it…The spotlight is on you, and it’s time to shine. Here are some crucial considerations for the day of and the actual virtual interview:

Log On Early:

  • Punctuality Speaks Volumes: In the virtual realm, a few minutes can be pivotal. Logging on a tad earlier gives the impression of eagerness and punctuality. It shows you’re serious about the opportunity.
  • Familiarize and Relax: Those few minutes before the interview starts aren’t just about waiting. Use this time to familiarize yourself with the platform, ensuring your camera and microphone are set. Take a deep breath and get into the interview mindset.

Stay Engaged and Active:

  • Nod, Listen, Repeat: In a virtual space, the physical cues become paramount. Simple acts like nodding or occasional affirmative sounds (“yes”, “I understand”, “right”) convey that you’re actively listening and engaged.
  • The Temptation of Distraction: The home environment can pose myriad distractions. But remember, your screen is a window into your attentiveness. Refrain from multitasking, and keep your focus sharp. It’ll resonate with the interviewer that you’re genuinely invested in the conversation.

When thinking about a virtual interview it’s important to remember that the on-camera minutes are a direct reflection of your professionalism. Even though it’s through a screen, your demeanor and attentiveness leave a lasting impression. So, be virtually present, in every sense of the word!

Post-interview Etiquette

The interview doesn’t wrap up once the camera goes off. Much like an in-person interview, the steps you take post-interview can leave an indelible mark, showcasing your professionalism and keen interest.

Send a Thank You Note:

Significance of Gratitude: Sending a thank-you note, especially in the fast-paced digital age, is a testament to your attention to detail and personal touch. This gesture goes beyond mere politeness; it echoes your professionalism and earnest interest in the role. Many hiring managers take note of this step, acknowledging candidates who demonstrate such proactive and genuine gratitude.

Customization is Crucial: A generic thank-you won’t stand out. Personalize your message, incorporating particular moments or topics from your interview. By doing so, you emphasize your attentiveness and highlight your genuine engagement during the conversation.

Example Templates for a Thank You Note:

  1. Simple and Direct:

    Subject: Appreciation for [Position] Interview

    Dear [Interviewer’s Name],

    Thank you for taking the time to discuss the [Position] with me today. Our conversation about [specific topic or moment from the interview] was enlightening and further intensified my desire to join [Company’s Name]. I eagerly anticipate the prospect of contributing to your esteemed team.

    Best regards,

    [Your Name]

  2. Detailed and Reflective:

    Subject: Reflecting on Today’s [Position] Interview

    Hi [Interviewer’s Name],

    I wish to convey my heartfelt appreciation for today’s insightful conversation. Our discussion regarding [specific topic from the interview] especially resonated with me. The prospect of being part of such a vibrant environment at [Company’s Name] excites me. Your consideration is deeply valued.

    Warm regards,

    [Your Name]

  3. Casual yet Professional:

    Subject: Great Chat Today!

    Hey [Interviewer’s Name],

    A brief note to express gratitude for our engaging conversation earlier. I particularly cherished our discussion about [specific topic or moment from the interview]. The innovative strides [Company’s Name] is making in the industry is evident, and I’m enthusiastic about potentially contributing.


    [Your Name]

Small gestures, like sending a thoughtfully penned thank-you note, can significantly influence a hiring decision, showcasing not just your etiquette but your genuine interest and dedication.

Final Thoughts on Virtual Interview Preparation

In the digital age, knowing how to prepare for a virtual interview is an invaluable skill set. Virtual interviews, with their flexibility and reach, are revolutionizing the hiring landscape. Yet, despite the virtual setup, the essence remains the same: showcasing your best self.

Remember, while the medium may change, the importance of preparation and authenticity persists. Dedicate time to familiarize yourself with the technological aspects, but also to reflect on your strengths, aspirations, and how they align with the company’s vision. With the right mindset and thorough preparation, you can leave a lasting impression, transcending the limitations of distance. Embrace the future of hiring with confidence. You’ve got this.

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