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Top tips to ace a virtual job interview

Just imagine, prior to 2020 someone had told you that “not all job interviews needed to be face-to- face”.

An entire industry that was built on in-person recruitment processes, was now switching to digital interviews – an enormous shift for employers, HR professionals, recruiters and candidates. It soon became clear though, that there are multiple benefits to a virtual interview. The entire interview process is now streamlined, you can save money, remove scheduling conflicts and broaden candidate pools because the geographic restrictions are no longer relevant. All in all, they have given recruiters another tool to leverage – and one that is here to stay.

Virtual interview do’s and dont’s

We have been hired by someone at some point in our lives, gone through the interview process and learnt how to be confident and authentic in our approach. How have virtual interviews changed the game? Are the rules the same, or are there additional elements candidates should be aware of?

The reality of it all is that while human connections and interviews will always have the same foundations, whether they are in-person or virtual, there are additional considerations that make – or break – a virtual interview. Here are some top tips to get you ready for your next virtual interview.


Weak WiFi or jumpy video might be beyond your control, but there is nothing more disruptive than a video that freezes or the inability to hear what someone is saying during an online interview.

Create a conducive environment:

  • Ensure your environment is free from distractions and you have a clear/neat background, alternatively blur your background if you are in front of a busy wall.
  • Make sure your lighting is good.
  • Avoid coffee shops or anywhere that it’s busy, loud and distracting (even if there is free WiFi.)
  • Have a good internet connection and a computer or laptop with a webcam. You will need your camera on, so make sure it works and you have enough data to withhold a video meeting.

Dress appropriately

You wouldn’t arrive at an in-person interview in pyjama pants and slippers, so why would you were casual clothes for a virtual interview? Yes, the interviewer will only see the top half of your body, but dressing for the part will give you added confidence during the interview as well. You also never know if you suddenly need to stand either. Dress the part – show the interviewer you are taking the entire process seriously.

Here are a few additional tips to looking great on camera:

Avoid bright colours and patterns. Choose softer colours instead, so the focus becomes on what you’re saying.

  • If you wear glasses, adjust the lighting in the room to reduce glare from the lenses.
  • Position the camera beforehand, so that you are centred on the screen and looking up slightly.

Think about your body language

One of the most important elements during an in-person interview is eye-contact. A virtual interview is the same. To create the same level of connection during a video interview, follow these tips:

  • Don’t look directly at your interviewer on the screen while you’re answering a question.

Instead, when you speak, look at the webcam, aligning your eyes more with the interviewer’s eyes on the other end. It won’t feel natural – but it will look far more natural to the interviewer.

  • When you’re listening instead of speaking, look back at the screen.
  • Posture is important. You want to look optimistic and open.
  • Sit in your chair with a straight back and open shoulders.
  • Don’t let your gaze start drifting, as though you are bored.
  • Keep your movements close to your body, but gesture as you would in person.
  • When you are listening, nod and smile, making it clear you are giving your interviewer your full attention.

Practice your interview technique

Perhaps try to set up some Zoom calls with friends and family, to practice your interview style. This will help you check your technology set-up, what you look like on camera and how you convey yourself. Record the sessions and watch them for areas of improvement, and ask your friends and family to give you their feedback as well. We often don’t realise if we are fidgeting or not looking directly at the camera, and a recorded file will help you identify areas where you can improve.

Plan for interruptions

Even the best plans can go astray, and despite practicing and testing your technology, you may end up with a problem on the day – especially when technology is involved. Planning ahead will help you decide how you will handle problems and interruptions.

If your video or audio stops working: Before the interview begins, ask for a phone number that you can call in case you experience technical difficulties. You can then connect with them easily if the video has trouble connecting.

If there are noise interruptions: Interrupt your video interview, apologise for the interruption and ask for a few moments until the noise has subsided. In this case, you could mute the microphone.

If someone walks into the room: Everyone has experienced a virtual meeting interruption of this nature, and your interviewer is also human. Apologise for the interruption, mute yourself and turn of your video and then deal with the interruption as quickly as possible.

Putting your best foot forward

As with in-person interviews, your goal should be to authentically put your best foot forward during the process. You want the interviewer to get a sense of who you are, where your hard and soft skills lie, and whether you would suit the company’s culture. By presenting yourself as a well-dressed candidate and ensuring there are no distractions, the interview can be about you – and you alone.

As with any job interview, you can conclude by thanking the interviewer for their time and sending a follow-up thank you email later that day, allowing you to build a stronger connection with your potential employer.

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