10 tips for nailing a virtual interview

2020 changed the world. In particular, it changed how we interact, interface, and connect with those around us. The pandemic has challenged our personal lives and has shifted (maybe forever) the ways companies do business. It also changed how they hire.

The disruption has dramatically impacted employment and has forced companies to reevaluate not only when and why they hire someone, but also how to hire someone.

As the hiring process becomes truly virtual and more employees begin to work remotely, Vaco and other organizations have moved in the direction of video interviewing. On one hand, it’s nice to be in the comfort of your own home during a stressful interview. On the other hand, it’s much harder to build the same rapport that’s possible with an in-person meeting.  

Even with these challenges, candidates can still make the best of this new interviewing frontier. If you’re in the midst of a job hunt, now is the time to get educated on the specifics of virtual interviews–so you can present yourself in the best professional light and stand out among other candidates throughout the interview process.

10 virtual interview tips to set yourself apart

In 2020, we have completed dozens of video interviews, and despite the general awareness and commonality of the practice, many candidates still make basic mistakes during virtual interviews. These mistakes range from dogs barking to poor webcam framing to the half glass of wine sitting in plain view on the corner of the desk.

Below are 10 key things to keep in mind when participating in a virtual interview. Some of these may seem obvious, but all of them are important−and could be deal breakers−in the quest to land your dream job.

  • Test your connection. Log onto the video interview invite at least 30 minutes prior. Do not scramble at the last minute.
  • Test your webcam and display placements. An employer wants to see more than just your forehead or bottom of your chin. Check your screen picture from time to time to ensure the interviewer can see your entire face at a reasonable distance.
  • Choose proper interview attire. Dress your best to leave a lasting and professional impression. This is important to hiring managers when comparing similarly skilled candidates.
  • Eliminate distractions. Close doors and windows in the room, turn the TV off, silence your cell phone, block pop-ups on your computer, and remove pets and kids from the space so you can focus and your interviewer isn’t distracted.
  • Find a room with a neutral and clean background. If one isn’t available, change your video background. Most video chatting platforms have background options for a clean appearance.
  • Choose an office or kitchen chair for good posture. It’s important to treat a virtual interview with the same level of care as an in-person interview. Don’t sit on a couch or an overstuffed armchair; doing so can encourage poor posture and detract from an otherwise professional appearance.
  • Adjust the lighting. Make sure the room is well-lit so interviewer(s) can see you with no glare or large shadows.
  • Prioritize the camera, not the screen. Use the best camera you have, even it means doing the interview on your cell phone. If you use a cell phone, place the phone in a stationary stand to eliminate movement.
  • Keep your eyes forward, and look at the interviewer(s). Focus on the camera of your device if you find yourself struggling to look at the correct area on your screen.
  • Take notes. Even though you’re on video, a hiring manager will appreciate engagement through note-taking, as it shows interest; having notes is also beneficial for follow-up conversations and communications.

Lights, camera, interview

Optimism abounds for new opportunities and “getting back to normal” as the pandemic winds down. However, some aspects of life and work are irrevocably changed—and that includes how companies find, interview, and select the best candidates.

Virtual interviews may well be a permanent part of the hiring process going forward, so follow these tips to prepare now (or in the future) for your next career opportunity.

Connect with a Vaco recruiter and embark on a new professional adventure today.


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