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6 Tips to Help Prepare for a Virtual Interview

Virtual interviews became the norm during the COVID-19 pandemic. While many companies have now returned to the office and resumed in-person interviews as part of their hiring process, many are still taking a blended approach when it comes to interviews. In fact, 93% of employers plan to continue using virtual methods when interviewing and hiring candidates in the future.

Virtual interviews offer a whole new level of convenience and flexibility for job seekers looking to take the next step in their careers. But, while many elements of a virtual interview are the same as an in-person interview, there are a few additional factors to consider.

Making sure you’re prepared can help you go into a virtual interview with confidence. Here are six tips to consider as you prepare for your next virtual interview.

 1. Find a quiet location and minimize distractions

Being able to simulate an in-person interview by minimizing distractions and background noise is important to set the tone for your interview and create a good environment where both you and the interviewer can connect without disruptions.

During the interview you are the focal point, so you want to make sure there aren’t any disturbances that can cause the interviewer to miss your answers or questions. Additionally, you should try to find a space that pets or family members will not enter. Turn off any radio, television and computer or phone notifications while in your interview to eliminate background noise.

2. Organize your interview space and arrive early

For your interview, it’s important to find a quiet, well-lit space with a neutral background. Interviewers want to see your face and not a dark silhouette, so be sure to avoid side light or back light. If possible, you might consider facing a window which can offer natural lighting.

When considering where to sit for your interview, it’s also important to keep in mind that this will give interviewers a peek into your personal life, so you want to ensure that your interview area is free of clutter. If you’re worried about your background, consider using a virtual background to minimize distractions. Either way, ensure it’s not taking the focus away from you.

You’ll also want to be sure you “arrive” to the interview not on time, but early. Giving yourself a moment to get comfortable and organized before the start of the interview will help ensure you’re in the right mindset and well-prepared.

3. Do a test run and check your technology

Prior to your interview, you should confirm with the interviewer whether they prefer to conduct the interview via video conferencing or over the phone. Although it may seem more intimidating, integrating video can serve to your benefit, as it will allow you to mimic an in-person interview. You’ll get the benefit of reading the interviewer’s reactions and nonverbal communications.

There are a host of video conferencing tools: Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime and Microsoft Teams are just a few. Confirm with your interviewer which video platform they plan on using so you can download it to your device(s), set up an account or login (if required) and learn how to use it. Once installed, ensure that your software is up to date, and you can easily connect to the video platform.

Before your virtual interview kicks off, make sure:

  • Your internet connection and speed are running smoothly
  • The latest software updates have been installed on your computer / the video platform
  • You know how to use all the features that you may need (e.g., video, microphone, volume, sharing your screen)
  • You’ve tested it out with a family member or friend if you have time
  • The interviewer has your phone number in case you need to switch to your phone

4. Dress the part

It’s important to treat your virtual interview, in terms of formality, the same as an in-person interview. Dressing professionally from head to toe can help boost your confidence, even if your interviewer will only see you from the waist up. Make sure your clothing complements the background you chose. If your background is lighter, consider wearing a darker color to create contrast and help you stand out.

5. Come prepared

Virtual interviews allow you to spend more time prepping for the interview itself since you no longer need to travel to a physical location. Use this extra time to your advantage — research the company, hiring manager (or interviewer) and information on the role for which you’re applying, and make sure be up to date on the company’s recent news. Also take time to prepare meaningful questions to ask the interviewer. This is just as important for a virtual interview as it is for an in-person one.

Asking questions at the end of an interview is a great way to not only show you’ve done your research and give you an opportunity to learn more about the role and company but can help you stand out from other candidates. Having at least 10 possible questions prepared will allow you to adjust your questions based on the conversation, but asking three questions is great number to target for.

Here are some examples of questions to ask:

  • What can you tell me about the position that isn't listed in the job post?
  • How do you measure success in this role, or what metrics or goals will my performance be evaluated against?
  • How do you typically onboard employees?
  • Are there opportunities for training, upskilling and/or professional development?
  • How would you describe company culture?
  • How do you prioritize work/life balance?
  • What types of skills is the team missing that you’re looking to fill with a new hire?

Writing down talking points is also helpful in any interview situation — but even more so in video interviews, which can sometimes feel more challenging to navigate than in-person discussions. Practicing beforehand or doing a mock interview or rehearsing with a friend or family member can help you feel more comfortable and prepare you for questions your interviewer may ask.

While it’s good to be prepared, you also don’t want to sound like you are repeating a scripted answer word for word. Ideally practicing and having key notes written down will help the conversation to flow more naturally, but you want your responses to still sound genuine.

6. End on a good note and extend gratitude

While you aim to make the experience similar to an in-person interview, you’ll want to extend the same gratitude that you normally would. Be sure to thank them at the end of the interview and send a follow up email afterwards to express your excitement about the position and thank them again for their time.

So, remember, virtual interviews require as much, or sometimes more preparation, than a traditional in-person interview, but following these six tips will help ensure you have a successful experience.

If you’d like to learn more about interviewing best practices, preparing for your next job opportunity or to connect with a recruiter, contact Aston Carter today. Ready to apply for a job? Explore Aston Carter’s job board of more than 5,000 active job listings to find your next opportunity.

*This article was originally developed by Aston Carter EMEA and adapted for Aston Carter North America.