How to Ace a Virtual Interview

It’s more personal than a phone interview, and less personal than being face-to-face. These tips are similar to our Top 10 Tips for Acing a Phone Interview, with some added suggestions for you to keep in mind while being visible to the employer interviewing you.

Before the Interview:

  1. Research. You probably researched the position a little bit before applying, but now is the time to do more research. Using the company’s webpage can be helpful to learn about their values and mission, but if you can talk to someone from within the organization, that’s an even better way to gain insight. You will likely be asked what you know about the organization, and it’s important to show that you’ve done your research.
  1. Figure out what questions you want to ask. You will likely have time at the end of an interview to ask questions of your own. This is a great opportunity to clarify anything about the position and is another way to show you’re interested. Don’t ask about remuneration, vacation, benefits, etc. (that can come later when the job is being offered).
  1. Prepare a cheat sheet. Having a cheat sheet or notes to refer to is acceptable for any interview, however, make sure they are short and concise, where you won’t be reading off the sheet word-for-word. The pointers you prepare in advance on your cheat sheet help you stay on track and ensure you include everything that you want to mention.
  1. Practice. The best way to be prepared for any interview is to practice. This can include refining any scenarios you may describe and can reduce the number of times you say “umm” in the actual interview. You can try practicing virtually with a friend or an NIC Employment Advisor to ensure you are ready for all the tricky questions.
  1. Check your tech. Know what type of platform the interviewer will be using and install it on your computer ahead of time. Make sure that your username is professional (eg. your name). If you are using a laptop, ensure that your battery is full for the interview (better yet – use your charger whenever possible), and check that you have a strong Wi-Fi connection.
  1. Choose your outfit. Even though you’re not meeting in person, you still need to dress up for the interview because the interviewer will see you. Deciding on your outfit ahead of time will help to eliminate any interview anxiety you may have, and can also reduce any last-minute surprises (eg. the shirt you planned on wearing needs ironing).
  1. Location, location, location. Find a quiet spot where you won’t be interrupted or distracted during your virtual interview. Set-up your webcam to be at eye-level and have an organized, neutral background. This could be a blank wall, bookshelves, or even kitchen. Wherever you choose, your background should be visually appealing and not distracting for the interviewer. Make sure you have good lighting on your face and that there aren’t any bright windows nearby. It’s important for the interviewer to be focused on you, and not your surroundings.
  1. Have a backup plan. Sometimes technology can fail us, we spill coffee on ourselves, or our roommate decides it’s a good time to practice drums. Whatever the situation, try to have alternate options ready for your interview. If your laptop freezes, have the interview platform technology installed on your phone. If you spill coffee on your perfectly ironed shirt, have a backup outfit planned. And if your noisy roommate suddenly comes home, make sure you leave them a note and send a text reminder that you need quiet for an hour. Lastly, it can be really helpful to have the interviewer’s phone number so if you do lose your connection with them, you can pick up where you left off over the phone.

During the Interview:

  1. Posture perfect. Sit up straight, make direct eye contact, and don’t forget to smile! Because the interviewer can see you, treat this like a real interview. It’s not just what you say, but how you say it, therefore body language and tone of voice matter. Other suggestions are to relax your shoulders, use your hands to help emphasize points, and try not to fidget (removing rings, click pens, and having your hair tied back are all good tricks).
  1. Try not to rush. Any interview is nerve-wracking, and this can cause you to speak fast. Take your time to formulate your responses and communicate clearly so the interviewer can fully understand you. Since verbal cues are a bit difficult when interviewing virtually, not rushing will also ensure you aren’t cutting off or interrupting the interviewer when they speak.
  1. Make sure you said everything you wanted to say. We’ve all had moments where we think back to a conversation and wish we’d said more or think of the perfect response too late. Because you have your cheat sheet in front of you, you can refer to it to make sure you said all the key points you wanted to state.
  1. Thank them and ask about next steps. At the end of the interview, thank the interviewer for their time and ask them what the next steps are. Their response will give you a better understanding of their recruitment timeline and will clarify what you can expect in the coming days / weeks.

After the Interview:

  1. Follow-up. The most common way to follow-up to thank an employer for any interview is via email, although sending a card or making a phone call are also valued approaches. No matter your method, you want to thank the employer for their time and re-iterate your interest in the position. If you can add something of value to your follow-up, this is a great opportunity to do so (eg. something that was mentioned in the interview, such as a copy of your First Aid certificate or a sample of your work).

If you need assistance, an Advisor from Student Employment Services is happy to help. Book an appointment via CareerCentral: