July 1, 2021

5 Tips to Nail Your Next Virtual Interview

by Kris Gibson

The COVID pandemic turned many aspects of life upside down and interviewing has been no exception. What used to happen over coffee, lunch, or just sitting across a desk or table in the office has now, like many things, gone virtual. Gone are the days of stopping in for an hour as a first step and here is a time of Teams, Zoom, WebEx, and countless other virtual mediums that bring employers and prospective hires together. So, what does it all mean for your next interview?

First, it means no more commuting, navigating building security protocols, or worrying about the nightmare of parking in an unfamiliar area, so big wins all around! It also means something that had long been used more heavily in your personal life (that is, video chats) has not infiltrated your professional world. This is not FaceTiming with your friends or using Skype to talk to your parents so they can hear what the grandkids have been up to. The stakes are raised, it is your career, and there are real consequences for getting it wrong. Fret not, here are 5 tips to help you nail your next virtual interview.

1) Dress for an Interview

You are home, you are comfortable, but don’t get too relaxed. It is an interview, so dress like it; yes, pants too. You never know when you may reach for something or somehow expose more than just your upper body so don’t get caught in PJ pants with a suit top. Just put on the suit, it won’t kill you, and it ensures you don’t have a “whoops” moment.

2) Test Your Camera and Mic

I can’t tell you how many times people don’t take the time to do a test run with a friend or family member and then have issues with sound or video when it is go-time. Make sure you have it all working ahead of time, so you don’t start off on the wrong foot and end up stressed or flustered.

3) Mind Your Background

Try to avoid some under-the-sea theme or beach backdrop the app may allow. You don’t want to be distracting or cartoonish; it is an interview after all. We all wish we could be a mermaid, but save it for later. If you go natural and let your actual setting show, make sure the ceiling fan doesn’t look like a sombrero over your head, there isn’t a bad glare, or some personal things you wouldn’t want seen popping up behind you.

4) Avoid Bombs

Pets, kids, spouses, neighbors… the list goes on. Make certain you won’t be interrupted or have any hot-mic moments where someone unknowingly becomes the star of your interview, but in a bad way.

5) Be Yourself

This seems obvious, but in a world where we need to worry about the aforementioned potential pitfalls, it is anything but. Don’t let the unfamiliarity of the situation overwhelm or fluster you. You still want to have a good discussion and let your personality, skills, and abilities shine through. Yes, you have to navigate some previously irrelevant things to conduct video interviews but in the end, it remains about you making a connection with the hiring manager; don’t let that get lost in the technology and circumstance.

Video interviewing is different, especially if you’re camera shy or in general just uncomfortable with the medium. The best advice I can give is to remember, at its core, interviewing is interviewing no matter the medium. When you take time to mind some of the potential pitfalls I am confident your next video interview will go just fine.


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