12 Tips for Shining During an Online Job Interview
A 2021 Indeed survey found that 88% of employers have conducted virtual interviews when hiring.1 While online interviews provide greater convenience, you may be wondering how to put your best foot forward as a job applicant when interviewing online.
At UMA, we want all our graduates to be successful when looking for work. Therefore, we’d like to share 12 virtual interview best practices, all of which can help you shine on your big day.
1. Download any necessary software immediately.
Companies can utilize any number of video interview platforms when hiring online. Once you know which one your prospective employer will use, download any necessary software immediately. This way, if you have any issues with getting the program to run on your computer, you have time to find a solution without the risk of missing your interview date.
2. Test the technology well in advance.
Once the virtual interview software is on your computer, test it out — well before your interview date. Check your video and audio to ensure that it works. Taking this step also enables you to get used to the program and how it works. This can help reduce your stress on the day of your virtual interview because you will have some level of familiarity with the program.
3. Pay attention to your background.
Have you ever had a video chat or meeting with someone and been distracted by their background? To keep this from happening to you during your virtual interview, turn on your computer’s camera and look at what’s behind you. Is it distracting or does it send the wrong message? A survey conducted by Harvard Business Review found that 44% of respondents prefer to see a bookshelf in the background when meeting with someone online, while 34% would rather see a framed piece of art, diploma, or photos.2 This survey’s findings also suggest foregoing both a blank wall and virtual background as both can make you seem less authentic, trustworthy, and sincere.
4. Dress the same as you would for an in-person interview.
A virtual interview is still an interview. So, dress the same as you would if you were meeting with the interviewer in person. To dress for job interview success, wear professional attire in neutral colors and make sure the clothes you plan to wear are neat and tidy. While you may be tempted to only dress this way from the waist up because that’s all the computer’s camera will capture, FlexJobs doesn’t recommend it as a misaimed camera eye or having to get up and grab something in the middle of the interview can make you look less than professional if the interviewer sees that you’re wearing shorts or pajama pants.3
5. Silence your cellphone and other electronic devices.
When you go to an in-person job interview, walking through the front door helps serve as a reminder to silence your cellphone. However, when you’re doing a virtual interview from home, no such reminder exists. To keep your phone and other electronic devices from going off unexpectedly, put a note on your computer screen reminding you to silence them before the interview starts. Even if you leave them in another room, making sure they’re silenced can keep the interviewer from hearing them in the distance should they go off.
6. Make sure your family knows not to disturb you.
Others in your home are another potential distraction during a virtual job interview. Let them know about your interview date and time and ask that they not interrupt you. It can also be helpful to request that they keep the television or radio turned down or off and avoid using any appliances that may be loud, such as a blender or ice dispenser. If you have young children at home, you may wish to either take them to a babysitter or plan to go elsewhere for your online interview. This ensures that you can give the interviewer your entire focus.
7. Prepare your list of questions in advance.
Interviews don’t just provide an opportunity for a potential employer to get to know more about you. These pre-hire meetings are also a good time to ask any questions you may have about the job and whether you’re the right fit. Before the day of your interview, write down all the things you want to know about the employer or position. That way, if the interviewer asks if you have any questions, you have your list handy and don’t have to work off memory, which can be difficult if you’re nervous.
8. Run through a mock virtual interview.
Just as you can benefit from running through a mock in-person interview, the same is true when you have an upcoming virtual interview. Ask a friend, family member, or someone from UMA’s Career Services team to conduct a mock job interview with you via webcam. This will help give you valuable feedback that you can use to your advantage when appearing for the real thing.
9. Watch your body language.
One of the things to watch for during both a mock and real interview is your body language. Sitting up straight, not fidgeting, and keeping your hand gestures to a minimum can help you come across as calm and confident. It can also be helpful to make good eye contact. When in a virtual job interview, this requires looking at the camera versus looking at the person on the computer screen. This may not feel right at first because it goes against your natural tendency to look the other person in the eye. But if you practice enough, you’ll get used to looking at the camera when answering questions, allowing your interviewer to feel like you’re making eye contact with them.
10. Log in a couple of minutes early.
On the day of your virtual interview, log in to the platform a couple of minutes early. This ensures that you’re able to sign in, and also gives you a little bit of time to contact the interviewer if you face any last-minute issues. Logging in early also shows that you care about the interview and are ready when they asked you to be ready. If the interviewer logs in and sees that you’re not online, they may wonder how much you want the job — or whether you’ll show up on time if you’re hired for the position.
11. Stay focused on the interviewer.
When you’re in your own surroundings, it’s not unusual to look around or have something else in the room catch your attention. However, when meeting with someone online, letting your attention wander to other things can be construed as an inability to keep focus or the job interview not being that important to you. To avoid either one of these situations, stay focused on the person interviewing you. Give them your full attention so they know you are present and interested in the job.
12. Send a thank you to the interviewer within 24 hours.
After the virtual interview is complete, send the interviewer an email thanking them for their time and letting them know that you’re still interested in the position. Taking this one extra step can put you ahead of other candidates who don’t do the same. It also shows that you’re good with follow-up, which can be a quality that they’re looking for in their next new hire.
Here at UMA, we want you to succeed, which includes seeing you get a job that is a good fit for you. So, if there is anything we can do to help you better prepare for your upcoming job interview, let us know. Contact us today and we’ll get through this together. We’re here for you every step of the way!
1 Indeed for Employers. Report: How Job Seekers Really Feel About Virtual Interviews. https://www.indeed.com/lead/report-job-seeker-attitudes-toward-virtual-interviews
2 Zandan N, Lynch H. Harvard Business Review. Dress for the (Remote) Job You Want. https://hbr.org/2020/06/dress-for-the-remote-job-you-want
3 Parris J. FlexJobs. Dress for Success: What to Wear for a Video Interview. https://www.indeed.com/lead/report-job-seeker-attitudes-toward-virtual-interviews