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Six Tips to Ace Your Virtual Job Interview

Written by: Keval Satra
Published on: Jul 22, 2021

Virtual Job Interview
Image credit: Dean Mitchell/iStockphoto

The coronavirus outbreak has brought about radical change in the way companies operate. With most operations going remote, the “virtual interview” has become the new norm in hiring of talent.

I believe virtual interviews will stick around long after the pandemic is over. Virtual interviews give companies access to a larger talent pool and reduce travel expenses.

This article is a guide for you to understand, prepare and succeed in these virtual interviews. Here are six tips that will help you ace your virtual interview:

1. Check your technology

  • First and foremost, check your technology. Make sure that your internet connection, microphone and camera are working fine at least 30 minutes before the interview. Nothing stifles a conversation like a frozen video or choppy audio.
  • Make sure to reboot your laptop before the interview. This ensures that all the system updates are installed and working fine during the interview.
  • This tip is for all the candidates out there. Keep your username and email address simple and professional because this would be your very first impression to the hiring team. Believe me, you do not want to lose points because of the inappropriate email address that your teenage self selected.
  • Make sure the laptop or tablet you are using is fully charged the day of the interview. And pick a spot that has strong Wi-Fi. If you are using a tablet, find a way to keep it stationary. Otherwise, the screen may appear shaky if you are holding the device. Avoid using a smartphone for video interviews if possible.

2. Create an interview setup

  • You sit down for the interview, fully prepared, the call begins and boom, you realize that you are not the center of attention because everyone – literally everyone – is looking at the huge pile of laundry right behind you. Do not let this happen to you. Create a professional interview setup. Tidy up your surroundings in order to avoid distractions.
  • Good lighting is the key to having a polished look. Sit in front of the window or in front of a plain wall so that you are the focal point of the conversation. Check for glare and sit at optimal distance from the computer (approximately one hand) to avoid close focus on just your face.
  • Place your laptop at your eye level, preferably on a table or a desk. Avoid keeping your laptop on the couch or your lap. Ideally the upper part of your torso should be visible.
  • Look at your device’s camera during the interview instead of looking at people (or different corners of your screen).

3. Eliminate distractions

  • Let your roommates or people you might be sharing the interview space with know about the virtual interview in advance. Request that they not disturb you in that given time frame.
  • Silence your mobile phone, turn off the TV, and close the windows to muffle neighborhood noise.
  • If after all this effort there is still some unnecessary noise, do not shy away on using the mute button in case of emergency. Apologize to the interviewer(s) about the unforeseen circumstance and improvise accordingly.

4. Dress professionally

  • Your choice of business attire should be same as what you would choose to wear in a face-to-face interview. Getting all suited up will make you feel more prepared and confident.
  • Avoid wearing anything too flashy or overpowering. That being said, please do not show up in your pajamas.

5. Prepare ahead of time

  • Preparation is the key to ace any interview. Prepare some pointers, examples and results for each element on your resume. It also helps to prepare for some common questions, such as:
    • Tell me something about yourself?
    • Why are you interested in this role?
    • What are your strengths/weaknesses?
    • What makes you the best fit for this role?
    • Give me an example of a time you faced a conflict while working on a team. How did you handle that?
  • Prepare but do not memorize any answers. You want to speak in a conversational tone.
  • Practice nonverbal cues such as a nod, smile or hand gestures to show that you are engaged.

Finish all your answers with a conclusion or a signal that indicates you completed your answer to avoid awkward long pauses in the conversation.

6. Practice to win

  • Practice interviews (aka mock interviews) are the best way to test your preparedness and technology. Familiarize yourself with the virtual interview environment to ease the nerves, and review your body language, eye contact and nonverbal cues.
  • The most efficient way to do a mock interview is to ask a reliable person, like your peers, friends, career counselors or someone in your professional network, to conduct your interview.
  • Seek feedback from the interviewer on your video and audio quality. Record the mock interview, revisit your performance, and make amendments to ace your actual interview!

As a job seeker, your goal with the virtual interview is the same as that of a face-to-face interview – to show that you are the best fit for the job position. I am confident that if you follow these six steps you will be able to ace your virtual interview. Moreover, I would be happy to help you with your mock interviews, so feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Happy job hunting!

Keval Satra, P.E., A.M.ASCE, is a civil engineer who helps in planning, design and construction of municipal water and wastewater infrastructure. At HR Green, he has successfully pitched, secured funding and launched the intrapreneurial idea to cultivate the culture of innovation at his organization. His career goals include growing within the company, earning a management role and bringing value to the shareholders.

Satra continues to serve ASCE’s Houston Branch and the Water Environment Association of Texas. He mentors students and young professionals to succeed in their career endeavors.