Virtual Interview Guide: How to Ace Your Next Video Job Interview

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8 Tips for Acing Your Next Virtual Interview | Northeastern University

Are you looking for a virtual interview guide? Perhaps you’re applying for a full-time job? 

We’ve rounded up a super comprehensive virtual interview guide to help you ace your next video job interview. 

Employers have been adaptable, and we (job seekers) needs to adapt with them.

With the growing job instability, it is more important than ever to be on your A-game. 

A virtual interview (or video interview) is a job interview that occurs remotely.

You’ll use video technology to have the conversation with potential employers, opposed to doing so face-to-face.

Virtual (Video) Interviews vs. In-Person Interviews

Although one can be done from the comfort of your own home, they both hold the same importance (e.g., there is only one chance to impress, should be taken just as seriously. Both require the same amount of preparation, planning and dedication.

As many workplaces are currently requiring people to work from home, employers may ask about your online communication and your experience with this.

They may also be more concerned about your initiative. Questions like “Would you describe yourself as proactive?” or “How would you solve an issue if your line manager had marked themselves as Away?” test this.

Interviewers are also likely to ask about previous remote working and what challenges you’ve faced. Propose a solution, always. 

Pros of virtual interviews:

  • Lower costs for job seekers and employers
  • Saves time and money on travel
  • Employers can screen candidates worldwide (and you can apply for jobs worldwide)
  • Less pressure on the candidate (in comfort of their own home
  • Easier to practice relaxation techniques, such as breathing or stretching, before)

Cons of virtual interviews:

  • Technical issues (e.g., slow wi-fi, poor quality)
  • Can be noisy
  • More challenging to build rapport or gauge someone
  • Employers will often have time slots close together for each candidate
  • Although you save time on travelling to the interview, the actual interview itself usually requires more time

Virtual Interview Dress Code: What to Wear

Hey, you still need to keep it professional. (For all the fellas out there: drop the tie but keep the collared shirt, ironed, please.)

Wear something you feel comfortable in – and make sure it’s still professional. If you’re wearing glasses, think about glare of lighting and where you position yourself. 

“Can I just wear a nice top half?” – We see people on the internet flaunting perfect top halves (e.g., blouses, blazers) and then their pyjamas at the bottom. However, we would advise against doing this. The idea is to replicate an in person interview.

Imagine if you have to get up to grab something or close a door and you’ve got tracksuit bottoms on!

Here are some examples of comfy business casual outfit ideas for men:

Business Casual for Men - Explained | AC.Styles

Source: AC Styles

And for the ladies:

Top Office Wear Trends for Women in 2022

Video Interview Platforms: What You Need to Know

What are the most common platforms (Zoom, Skype, SparkHire, Slack, Google Hangouts)?

22 Top Video Interview Software for Recruiters in 2023

Get it all downloaded a couple of days before and run through it a few times.

Check where the mic control button, camera and typing box is, and how to share your screen.

How similar or different are they?

Does it require you to download a plugin or app?

Does it work with Windows and Mac?  In different browsers, perhaps?

Tip: Ask which platform you’ll being using well in advance so you can prepare yourself. 

Bonus Tip: Always do a test-run first in case you need to install a plugin or adjust your tech setup.  This will help you identify any tech issues so you can sort them out in advance.

How to Practice and Prepare for Video Interviews?

Always practice beforehand. Test run an actual walkthrough on that platform when possible. 

Have notes or an outline of points you want to cover. Put it next to your monitor or on your desk so you can easily reference it.

Tip: Hire a career coach to help you prepare and practice a few times, especially if you are actively looking for employment (i.e. currently out of work) rather than passively looking.

Should I Prepare in the Same Way as a Normal Interview?

Yes, more than you normally would, to check if all your equipment works.

Key things to research before an interview:

  1. Skills and experience the company values/values for the position
  2. Company culture, values and mission for the coming years
  3. Their clients
  4. Products, services and your customer experience using them
  5. Recent events they’ve done (and who was involved)

Make sure you’re in the center of the screen, and your interviewer can observe your body language.

Whatever video platform is being used, download it before and see if you can have a look at the screen.

For example, in ‘Zoom’, you can start a meeting without anyone in it. That way, you can have a play around with lighting and positioning and see what works best.

Also, log on a few minutes early on the day of the actual interview to check for any technical issues.

“Are there any other things I could do to prepare?”

Mention about forums where you could speak to other job seekers.

Career coach idea: link to the post that I have already written on career coach versus career counsellor. Then mention the pros of having a career coach (e.g., build a powerful resume, build confidence, set goals).

How to Answer the Most Common Interview Questions

“How would you describe yourself?”

“What makes you unique?”

“What motivates you?”

“What are you passionate about?”

What questions should you ask?

Most job seekers actually make the major mistake of forgetting to ask questions!

By asking questions at the end, it lets the employer know you’re interested about the specific job you’re interviewing for (and not just mass applying).

Make sure they’re good questions – let the interviewer know you’ve put some thought into them.

“What are the day-to-day responsibilities of the position?”

You can decide if this is right for you and gives you ideas of their expectations. You may compare it to the role you already have.

For example, asking, “What’s your company culture like?” allows you to determine how you will fit in.

Top tip: you should’ve done your research and you should, in theory, already know the answer to this.

You could say, “I notice that the company culture promotes trust and diversity, could you give me examples of how you do this?”

“Do you provide professional development opportunities?”

This statement does two things:

1) Helps you decide whether you could have a long-term career there and whether they can offer you what you’re looking for.

2) Shows the employer you’re looking to progress, grow and develop, which is good!


The 3 Best Webcams of 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

How’s your computer’s built-in microphone versus an external one? 

This is probably optional for most people but more important if you are in a large room with an echo or interviewing for roles where verbal communication is a key element.

Tip: You can adjust your computer’s microphone sensitivity which can reduce background noise.

Seriously, get a sign to put on your door if you have a separate home office, or even to put on the back of your chair. Remember to let anyone else you live with know to keep the background noise down!

If you internet speed is slow, this is the time to make sure no one else is playing online games or streaming video, etc. on your network – keep the bandwidth clear.

Yikes, What if Things Go Wrong?

Stay calm if things do go wrong such as wi-fi cuts or technical issues.

And even if they do, it opens an opportunity for you to show that you can solve problems and work well under pressure!

If someone walks in, or something happens, put yourself on mute and sort it out. And then, continue the conversation. Use your best gear: headphones and microphone. 

Your Background and Setup

Plan this in advance. Keep it simple, clean, and professional.

Think about the level of sophistication required for job or industry you’re interviewing for. Serious for an attorney or accountant. 

Go a bit more creative for creative positions. (Maybe have your fancy indie art or record collection in view.)

Make sure you’ve let people know you’re going to do an interview. Face the screen so the door can’t be seen, that way if someone walks in it won’t be caught on camera and they will (hopefully) see that you’re engaged.

Sit in front of a big window, allows lots of natural light! Try and avoid sitting with a window behind you or directly below a light bulb.

Should you organize your desk, even if it’s out of the interviewer’s line of sight?

Absolutely. Here’s why. 

Tidy desk = tidy mind.

Bakhtiyar 40.5'' Desk

Remove all distractions, as this will help you perform better – you’d be off put in a normal interview room that was messy, so why should your home desk be any different? Make it feel as professional as possible. 

Also, clean up your computer too – close all irrelevant tabs and mute your notifications.

On your desk, ensure you have a glass of water.

109,400+ Glass Of Water On Table Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free ...

Tip: ensure it is only water and pour it in a glass. Again, it’s all about keeping it as professional as it would be in person.

Bonus tip: you can stack books under your laptop to obtain the perfect height to frame your face and background.

Experiment with different examples of how lighting impacts the video quality. You can try positioning your camera under a lightbulb or in front of a window. See if it makes a difference. 

We at The Career Project wish you the best of luck in your next video job interview. Armed with our top tips and tricks, you’ve got this!

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