How Can I Prepare For My Virtual Job Interview?

It’s time for a Pivot HR911 post, where we feature questions from readers looking for employment advice. This month we help a recently unemployed professional who is looking to secure a new job after landing a virtual interview. How can she ace the interview from the comfort of her own living room? Read on for our tips and best practices.


Dear Pivot: How Can I Prepare For My Virtual Job Interview?

This month’s HR911 question comes to us from Mary (name changed to protect her confidentiality), who was recently let go from her former employer due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. Mary is on the hunt for a new role and has secured an upcoming interview with a potential employer via Zoom. However, like many, Mary has little experience using virtual platforms and she is worried that she won’t present herself and her skillset in the same manner as she would in-person.  She’s come to us to ask what she should do to make a good impression- virtually.


Our Answer: Take these 6 Steps to Ace Your Virtual Interview


1. Test your Technology

Our first piece of advice is to test your technology. There’s nothing worse than wasting critical interview time fumbling around with your video or audio- especially in today’s workplace where technical skills are considered a key competency that employers are looking for.  Check to see if your camera and microphone are working and if you have a secure Internet connection.  We also recommend confirming which virtual platform will be used and ensuring you have it properly installed on your computer prior to your interview.

2. Set the Stage 

Once you’ve tested your technology, determine where you will take the interview. If possible, find a spot where the lighting is optimal. We suggest sitting in front of a blank backdrop, preferably near a window to keep the light in front of you. Demonstrate to the interviewer that you are organized and detail-oriented and present a clean space that is clutter free. *Tip: put away your laundry and/or any personal photos that you wouldn’t want your employer to see in the background.

3. Keep it Professional

A virtual interview is the real deal so dress to impress.  Your wardrobe should be no different than what you would wear during an in-person interview. As much as you’d like to stay in you pyjamas all day, it’s a good idea to keep you lower half professional- You never know when you might have to stand up! Once you’ve chosen your outfit, go back to your interview location and check to see if anything in the shot is distracting or reflecting on camera.

Remember to keep your username and online profile just as professional as your wardrobe. In the digital world, your username and online profile will often be your first impression- make sure it’s a good one.  Choose a simple username that matches your professional name so that the interviewer doesn’t have any difficulty or confusion following-up after the interview.

4. Do your Prep Work

Although a Google search may be right at your fingertips, you’ll want to appear focused and knowledgeable during the interview. Just as you would for an in-person interview, do your research before hand and avoid clicking around. If you prefer having notes to refer to, we suggest using sticky notes and placing them on your computer screen for easy reference. You can also keep a copy of your resume close by for helpful talking points.

5. Minimize Distractions

 Like many of us, you’ve probably discovered that working from home can have several distractions you typically wont find working in an employer’s office.  You might recall the BBC interview when Professor Robert Kelly was interrupted by his two young kids and somehow managed to keep his composure.

Unfortunately, you can’t plan for every interruption, but the more prepared you can be the better. Before your interview, remember to turn off your TV, background music, cell-phone and any other computer notifications. If you live in an urban area, you may want to close your windows to avoid any honking horns or sirens that could also cause interruption.

6. Watch your Body Language

Conveying your personality virtually can be challenging, so being aware of your body language when interviewing is key. How you sit, gesture and listen will all factor in the interviewers evaluation of you. Remember to maintain good eye contact, sit up straight, nod and smile when appropriate, and keep hand gestures to a minimum. The interviewer will be assessing whether you will be a good fit for the company culture so make it a point to express confidence, enthusiasm and positivity.


What Happens If Things Go Wrong?

In the digital world, there’s always a chance that things will go wrong. With this in mind, we suggest asking for an alternative contact method (i.e. direct phone number) at the start of the interview, so that you can reach the interviewer in the case that your technology fails.

If during the interview you experience an interruption (noise, kids, pets), apologize to the interviewer, then ask for a moment to wait for the noise to subside, mute your audio, or turn off your camera and step away to deal with the disturbance.  It’s better to acknowledge the interruption than hope it goes away without notice.  The interviewer understands that virtual interviews can have some hiccups, but it’s your professionalism during the interruption that will be evaluated.

We hope you enjoyed this month’s Pivot HR911 post. If you would like to have your employment question answered, connect with us at Don’t worry we’ll keep your name and personal details confidential.


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