Elyssa Duncan
Community Specialist
Posted April 29, 2020

9 tips to ace your virtual interview

Preparing for a virtual interview is no problem with these 9 easy tips.
Elyssa Duncan
Community Specialist
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9 tips to ace your virtual interview
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Whether you’re looking for your first role or your 10th, diving into the job hunt can be a scary experience. Most people will have 12 jobs in their lifetime, and you can bet that each interview was as daunting as the last. Things were tough enough when you had to travel to a potential employer’s office to attend your interview, but if you’re applying for a job overseas or in an area that is still facing strict social distancing rules, you’ll probably be asked to interview over video.

This raises a whole new set of questions, such as:

  • How do you prepare for a video interview?

  • What kind of questions are asked in a video interview?

  • What happens if my technology fails?

Don’t worry; we’re here to help.

This guide is full of tips to help you nail your next video interview and land that dream job. We’ll cover the three different types of video interviews, the typical questions asked during a video interview, and a variety of tips for standing out and making a great impression.

So, let us share our screen, as it were, and get into things.

What are the types of video interviews?

There are three main kinds of video interviews that you might be involved in. Let’s discuss each quickly.

Remote video interviews

The remote interview is the main kind of job interview performed over video. It involves meeting with the recruiter or potential employer from the comfort of your own home or another quiet place.

Remote video interviews are generally via Skype, Zoom, or Google Hangouts. They have become increasingly common during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Outside of those specific circumstances, remote video interviews are a great way to interview for a role in another city so that you can potentially land a job before you relocate.

In-office video interviews

From time to time, hiring managers are working from different offices than the one you’re applying for. For example, you might be applying for a job in the company’s warehouse in Arizona, but their headquarters are in New York.

Rather than flying all the way over to meet you (or you flying there to meet them), they’ll decide to start the recruitment process through a video conference but still ask you to come into the local office to perform the interview. This will allow you to meet some of the team you’ll be working with. They will also be able to help control technical difficulties, like making sure the Wi-Fi doesn’t cut out on you.

Live vs. pre-recorded video interviews

When you think about video interviewing, you’re probably thinking about a live video interview. By and large, that’s the main kind, but sometimes recruiters will ask you to send through a pre-recorded video. In this case, they might send you a few interview questions over email and ask you to record a video of yourself answering them.

This process is not particularly common. Even if it is part of the hiring process, they’ll usually invite you to a follow-up phone interview or video call before making a decision. Some companies, like Amazon, are doing contactless hiring from beginning to end!

What kind of questions are asked in a video interview?

The questions that you’ll be asked in a video interview are typically no different from those you'll find in a face-to-face interview. So, you should prepare for this interview just the same.

Let’s take a look at five common interview questions.

1. “Tell me about yourself.”

This is a very broad question and usually one of the first the interviewer will ask. It’s a great way to kick off the conversation. You should answer this by speaking about your work ethic and experience, as well as your personal goals and interests.

When a potential employer asks this question, they are usually not looking for an answer that sounds like “I grew up in Philadelphia and went to college at Ann Arbor and…

”They’re hoping to find out about your ambitions, your driving interests, and what makes you tick as a person. Discover 7 tips and examples on how to answer this question in our complete guide.

2. “Why do you want this job?”

Be honest and keep your answer short. Try to link it back to your wider goals. For example, if a goal of yours is to move into a supervisor role, you might speak about the opportunities for progression that this job offers.

3. “How did you find out about this job?”

Generally, the recruiter or manager is simply trying to understand how effective their various methods of advertising have been. This answer doesn’t need to be very long; just tell them where you saw or heard about the job ad.

4. “Tell me something that is not on your resume.”

If your resume is well-crafted, you’ve probably already listed out your work experience, described your core skills, and mentioned some of your previous achievements in the workplace. A great answer here is to describe a situation you were involved in that relates to the skills and attributes the company is looking for.

For example, let’s say you’re applying for a job as a customer service rep.

A great answer to this question would be to talk about that time you helped old Betty carry her groceries to the car.

5. “Why do you want to change your job?”

This is a question you’ll likely come across multiple times during your job search. Employers are always interested in why you’ve decided to leave your current job. It tells them what you’re hoping to get out of the new role and gives them an idea of why you might leave this job in the future.

You should answer this question openly and honestly, without going into too much detail. If you’re not sure how best to answer this interview question, check out our article on common reasons for leaving your job.

Tips to stand out in a video interview

Most jobs get around 250 applicants, so putting yourself in the best possible position while interviewing is essential.

Here’s how:

1. Prep just like you would for an in-person interview

The types of questions you’ll be asked are likely to be no different from what you’d find in a face-to-face interview.

So, prepare yourself by:

  • Doing a little research on the company

  • Review the job description or advertisement

  • Do a test run-through or two with a friend or family member

2. Test your technology

It’s always a good idea to make sure all of your technology is in good working order. A couple of days before the interview, organize a video call with a friend or family member using the same platform that the video interview is to take place on.

3. Dress for success

You still want to make a great first impression, so pull on that formal shirt, jacket, or dress, and make sure you're putting your best foot forward.

4. Set up your background

Make sure you’ve got a nice clean and neutral background for your interview. Clean up the empty beer bottles from the bookshelf behind you, and make sure that nothing is too cluttered.

(Image Source) It’s generally a good idea to set yourself in front of a blank wall so that there are no distractions for the person on the other side of the call.

5. Maintain good eye contact

Maintaining good eye contact is a little more difficult across a video interview because if you want to come across like you’re looking into their eyes, you’ll actually need to look into your webcam. It can feel a little awkward at first, so try practicing looking into the camera during a few practice run-throughs so you can nail it during the interview.

6. Project and pause

Audio quality can sometimes be a challenge on video calls. To make sure you’re heard clearly, try to speak a little louder and more directly than you would if they were in the room with you.

Once you’ve said your piece, let them know you’ve finished speaking by giving them a subtle nod or ending your sentence in a way that demonstrates that your answer is complete. This will prevent any awkward silences.

7. Watch your body language

Sit up tall in your chair, don’t cross your arms, and try to use your hands a little bit while you talk to emphasize key points (if it feels natural).

(Image Source)

8. Lean into facial expressions

Facial expression can be harder to read over video due to screen size and general video quality. A good way to work around this limitation is to put a little more emphasis on your facial expressions. For example, you can make your enthusiasm clearer by smiling a little wider than you might usually.

9. Let the other person finish speaking

When you’re on a video call, it’s okay to have a little more silence between their question and your answer than normal. This gives you a moment to make sure they’ve finished speaking before you give your answer. Interruptions are much more common on video calls because it’s harder to tell when they’ve finished talking.

Getting ready for a video interview

Now that you’re ready to nail your interview, let’s take a look at seven quick steps to take just before your video chat.

  1. Check your internet connection.

  2. Let your housemates know that you’ve got an interview and you can’t have any interruptions.

  3. Set your phone to silent.

  4. Make sure your background is neutral and free of clutter.

  5. Ensure that your audio is working.

  6. Do a test run-through if you’ve never used video conferencing software before.

  7. Get yourself a drink of water — you’ll be talking a lot!

What if something goes wrong?

As if interviews aren’t intimidating enough, you’re also faced with the possibility of your technology failing. The first thing you need to hold in mind here is that your potential employer will understand, and they won’t judge your interview based on technical issues that are out of your control.

Still, it helps to be prepared.

Let’s look at three potential scenarios.

1. If the video/audio stops working

Don’t panic; this happens way more often than it should. Most video conferencing tools have some form of chat functionality, so you can just flick them a message to let them know you’re facing difficulties.

Otherwise, you’ve probably got their phone number or email address, which you can use for the same purpose.

2. If noise interrupts the conversation

This will happen from time to time. The best thing to do here is to apologize (they’ll forgive you) and then go back a few sentences so that everyone is still on the same page and no important information is missed.

3. If someone enters the room

Ideally, you’ve let your friends, flatmates, or family members know that you’re taking a video call. Still, someone might enter the room.

Unless it’s an emergency (in which case you should apologize and let the interviewer know that you need to go because of an emergency), here’s what to do:

  • Apologize to the interviewer and excuse yourself

  • Remind the person interrupting you that you’re on a video, and ask if this needs immediate attention

  • After dealing with the issue (whether resolving it or directing them out of the room), apologize again to the recruiter for the inconvenience

  • Laugh it off. These things happen. Make light of the situation, and they probably will too.

Nail that video interview

At this point, you should be feeling confident and well-prepared for your next video interview. Remember, the main part of the interview is more or less the same as a regular interview; you’re just speaking through a webcam!

In any case, let’s recap on our top 9 tips for standing out in a video interview:

  1. Prep just like you would for an in-person interview

  2. Test your technology

  3. Dress for success

  4. Set up your background

  5. Maintain good eye contact

  6. Project and pause

  7. Watch your body language

  8. Lean into facial expressions

  9. Let the other person finish speaking

Now that you’re feeling ready for a video interview, it’s time to apply for a job or 10.

Search for jobs near you.


What are some ways you’d prepare for a video interview? Share your comments below!

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Elyssa Duncan
Community Specialist
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Gloria Archuleta

make sure your camera is facing you and not some odd place in your office. its embarrassing adjusting your camera when interviewing.

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