Virtual job interviews let you apply for positions from the comfort of your home. But that doesn’t eliminate the stress of the interview process, and you still need to prepare before you enter the virtual room.

Video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet have made it easier for employers to conduct remote virtual interviews. And with no commute time, they’re generally more convenient for companies and job seekers alike.

But the remote interview process also brings new challenges. Although plenty of traditional job-hunting advice holds up, this new context calls interview etiquette into question. You don’t have to worry about your handshake, but you do have to think of Zoom etiquette guidelines.

If you want to put your best foot forward, peruse these virtual interview tips so you know what to expect. Then you can focus on landing the job of your dreams.

Types of virtual interviews

Research from Robert Half shows 28% of new US job postings in January 2023 were remote, so it’s no surprise virtual interviews are on the rise. You likely won’t visit an office to interview for an at-home position. But in-person or hybrid jobs might also ask you to attend virtual interviews to aid scheduling and ease the hiring process.

Before you start getting ready and prepping answers for specific interview questions, it’s good to know what you’re getting into. Here are common types of interviews you should familiarize yourself with:

Two-way video interview

This is the format you’re most likely picturing when you think of a virtual interview. Live on-camera interviews most closely resemble a conventional in-person conversation, letting you connect with the interviewer via face-to-face communication.

One or more people will ask you common interview questions, and you’ll have the chance to inquire about the company culture and other aspects of the job. Be prepared to demonstrate soft skills and describe prior experiences.

One-way video interview

As the name implies, a one-way interview is all about you. Typically, an employer using a one-way format will pose pre-selected questions, which you’ll answer via an asynchronous video response. Since there won’t be an interviewer present, this eliminates the need for a synchronous meeting, offering greater flexibility. It’s a popular choice for remote positions and high-volume hiring processes.

One-way video job interviews come in various formats. Some limit the length of your responses, and they may or may not allow re-recording, so make sure you know whether you’ll have a second chance to answer before hitting “record.”

Phone interview

These aren’t necessarily virtual, but phone interviews are often part of the remote hiring process. Before conducting more in-depth assessments, many employers will use phone screening interviews to lay out the specifics of the position and ensure you’re a good fit.

If you suffer from phone anxiety, this may be a daunting prospect, but it’s really a cause for celebration. A phone call from a prospective employer is a good sign that your application stuck out to them.

Written assessment

Another asynchronous interview option — one that’s sometimes only a portion of the process — written assessments ask you for text-based responses. Questions may be multiple choice, short answer, or extended responses that relate to the position you’re applying for. It isn’t a quiz, but it’s a chance to tell a potential employer about you and show your skills and experience through writing. Like a working interview, the goal is to gauge the real work you can do.

Before starting, brush up on how to introduce yourself professionally without sounding like a robot. If you already know how to write a cover letter that shows off your skills, you’re off to an excellent start.

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How would you prepare for a virtual interview?

Although it’s tempting to treat a remote interview more casually than an in-person evaluation, good preparation is even more important. The remote process lets employers meet with job candidates from all locations and walks of life, so you’ll have to up your game to stand out against a diverse candidate pool.

In addition to all the usual advice on preparing for an interview, consider these remote-specific tips:

1. Check your tech

First and foremost, ensure your technical setup is in order. Double-check that your computer, webcam, and microphone are functioning correctly. Familiarize yourself with the video conferencing software that will be used, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet. Make certain your internet connection is stable and that you understand the basic controls, like muting and unmuting yourself. You should also check your WiFi speed.

If you’ve never used the employer’s preferred platform before, familiarize yourself with it first. Make sure you know where the mute button is and how to tell when it’s activated. You can handle all these concerns by running a practice call with a friend or family member.

2. Know your lighting and setup

Even the best camera can’t compensate for poor lighting and awkward framing. Your webcam should be roughly level with your eyes so you aren’t craning your neck up or down to keep your head in the frame.

Lighting should be bright enough to clearly see your face, but not so intense that it washes you out. Try testing your framing beforehand so you don’t have to fiddle with it during the call.

3. Perform a “background check” on yourself

A potential employer might check your criminal history and credentials, but they might also assess the physical background of your video stream during the interview.

A survey from the Harvard Business Review found that 60% of people have preferences about the background of a speaker on a video call. Rated on metrics of authenticity, expertise, innovation, and trustworthiness, respondents generally preferred an actual room to a solid-color wall. In all cases, a virtual scenic background was dead last.

This isn’t to say you should display your entire bedroom behind you. The best background option is to present a contained space with minimal clutter and thoughtful decoration, like a bookshelf or a wall of framed artwork.

4. Eliminate distractions

Your background isn’t the only thing that might distract from what you have to say. Before the interview begins, make sure nothing will disturb your focus for the duration of the call. Inform your household members of your interview schedule and turn off notifications on your computer and phone. This will help you stay present and engaged throughout the conversation. And while testing your camera and sound, you should also keep an ear out for loud fans or other ambient room noise that may drown you out.

In addition to reducing distractions, create an environment that improves your focus and concentration. Even if an interviewer can’t see it on video, a cluttered desk can make it difficult to clear your mind. Tidy up, make space for notes or a pen and paper, and find a discreet fidget toy if it helps you concentrate.

5. Dress for success

You might be sitting comfortably at home, but that doesn’t mean you should wear pajamas to the interview. Keep your clothing business casual to balance authenticity and professionalism while you make a good first impression. And that includes your bottom half. You never know if you’ll have to stand up unexpectedly, and a professional ensemble from head to toe can help you build confidence even if an interviewer doesn’t see the whole thing.

6. Practice nonverbal communication

A video interview creates social barriers that can make it hard to form a memorable connection. It’s difficult to maintain eye contact and interpret nonverbal communication over a video call, which may lower trust and likability between conversation partners.

There are several ways to overcome this barrier. Try to look directly into the camera while you talk. This will simulate eye contact and help the interviewer connect with you as you answer their questions. Practice using the body language they can see as much as possible. This means exercising good posture, nodding your head, and using types of gestures that fit into the frame.

Woman-saying-hi-with-her-hand-at-virtual-interview-with-tablet-virtual-interview

Take prep notes

Thoroughly review the job description, your resume, and cover letter, and be prepared to discuss how your experience and skills align with the position’s requirements. Practice answering common interview questions, and consider preparing a few insightful questions to ask the interviewer about the company and the role.

Hold a mock interview with a friend

If possible, conduct a mock interview with a friend or mentor using the same technology that will be used in the actual interview. This will help you get comfortable speaking and troubleshoot any potential issues that may arise.

10 additional tips to ace your virtual interview

  1. Position your camera at eye level to create a more natural and engaging interaction.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the video conferencing platform’s features and controls ahead of time.
  3. Have a charger or power source nearby to ensure your device doesn’t die during the interview.
  4. Avoid eating or drinking (other than water) during the interview to maintain a professional demeanor.
  5. Be prepared to share your screen or documents if requested, and test this functionality beforehand.
  6. Eliminate background noise and distractions to minimize interruptions during the call.
  7. Have a glass of water nearby in case you need to take a sip to collect your thoughts.
  8. Refer to notes or key talking points, but avoid shuffling papers excessively in front of the camera.
  9. Be mindful of your tone and speak clearly and confidently to project professionalism.
  10. Follow up promptly after the interview with a thank-you note to reiterate your interest and qualifications.

How do you introduce yourself in a virtual interview?

Introducing yourself in a virtual interview effectively sets the tone for the rest of the conversation. Here’s a structured way to do it to ensure you come across as professional, prepared, and personable:

  • Start with a greeting: Begin with a friendly greeting to the interviewer. Use their name to make it more personal, for example, “Good morning, Mr. Smith,” or “Hello, Ms. Johnson.”
  • State your name: Clearly state your full name. Even though your name might be visible on the screen, saying it helps reinforce who you are.
  • Brief professional summary: Give a concise overview of your professional background. Mention your current or most recent role, your primary skills, and a highlight or two from your career that’s relevant to the job you’re applying for. For example, “I’m currently a marketing coordinator with over three years of experience specializing in digital content creation and social media management. Recently, I led a project that increased our web traffic by 40%.”
  • Express enthusiasm for the role: Convey your enthusiasm for the position you’re interviewing for. Briefly mention what attracts you to the company or role. For example, “I am very excited about the opportunity to contribute to your team and further develop my skills in a dynamic environment like yours.”
  • Acknowledge the opportunity: Thank them for the opportunity to interview. A simple acknowledgment can set a positive, respectful tone for the rest of the interview. For example, “Thank you for inviting me to interview today. I look forward to discussing how I can contribute to your team.”
  • Keep it concise: The entire introduction should be succinct, aiming for about 30-60 seconds. This keeps the interview moving smoothly and shows that you value the interviewer’s time.

Here’s how it might all come together:

“Hello, Ms. Johnson. My name is Jane Doe. I’m currently a marketing coordinator with over three years of experience in digital content creation and social media management. Recently, I led a project that increased our web traffic by 40%. I am very excited about the opportunity to bring my background in strategic marketing to your team, and I’m looking forward to learning more about this position. Thank you for having me today.”

This introduction not only sets a professional tone but also frames you as a strong candidate right from the start.

What to expect in a 30-minute virtual interview

Technical check

First and foremost, be prepared for a technical check at the beginning. The interviewer will likely want to ensure all aspects of the video and audio are functioning correctly, so you can both communicate effectively. Approach this step with poise, double-checking your equipment and confirming your ability to see and hear each other clearly.

Introduction phase

Next, the introduction phase will mirror a traditional in-person interview. You’ll be asked to introduce yourself, and the interviewer will likely do the same, potentially outlining the format of the conversation. Embrace this opportunity to make a strong first impression by presenting yourself in a polished, engaging manner.

Interview questions

The core of the interview will involve a series of questions, ranging from discussions about your resume and experience to more behavioral-based questions that allow you to showcase how you’ve handled similar situations in the past. Depending on the role, you may also face technical or skill-based questions to demonstrate your expertise.

Interactive components

Some virtual interviews may incorporate interactive components, such as presentations, case studies, or real-time problem-solving. If asked to share your screen, do so confidently, and be prepared to walk the interviewer through any relevant materials.

Company culture and fit

Interviewers will likely assess not only your qualifications but also how well you might fit into the company’s culture with specific culture-add questions. Be ready to discuss your work style, approach to remote work, and communication/collaboration preferences.

Opportunity to ask questions

Toward the end of the interview, you’ll typically have the opportunity to ask questions. Leverage this to gather insights about the company, team, culture, and the next steps in the hiring process. This will help you determine if the role is a strong fit for your goals and aspirations.

Next steps

Finally, the interviewer will likely provide details on any further rounds of interviews, assessments, or timelines for decision-making. Approach this with gratitude and a clear understanding of the next steps.

3 common virtual interview questions

Virtual interviews likely include many of the same interview questions as an in-person assessment, but it’s still vital that you prepare confident answers ahead of time. Video calls often make people more self-conscious, making you more likely to get thrown off your game. Practicing beforehand means you won’t scramble for answers during the interview.

By the time a potential employer reaches out for a video interview, you might have already done a phone screening or filled out a written questionnaire. In a second interview, questions will be more open-ended and dive deeper into your compatibility with the company’s culture. Prepare to talk about a 5 year plan and think of good anecdotes for “tell me about a time” interview questions.

Although there are no “right” answers to interview questions, practicing your answers can help you prepare responses that are honest and feel true to you. Here are common questions you might hear during a remote interview and tips to inspire your answers:

1. Why are you considering leaving your current job?

This is often a sensitive topic, so try to keep your answer positive. Focus on the new opportunities you’re pursuing rather than the grievances you may have with your employer. Remember, the interviewer wants to know about you — not your negative experience — so frame your reason for leaving a job as an opportunity for fulfillment in a new role.

2. What are some of your most outstanding achievements?

This is a chance to impress your interviewer and demonstrate your value. It can be hard to formulate personal achievement examples without feeling like you’re selling yourself, but the trick is to keep them specific. Talk about a measurable effect you had on a project or your greatest accomplishment at a previous job, then relate it back to the position’s requirements.

3. Why do you think you are a suitable candidate for this position?

The interviewer has seen your resume, but now they want to know what sets you ahead of the pack. Here’s where researching your future employer in advance can really pay off.

The company’s website likely includes information about company culture, such as the organization’s core valuesmission statement, and organizational leadership. Use what you’ve learned to relate your personal values to the company’s. And if you’re struggling to think of a place where you align, it’s a sign that the company might not be a good fit for you.

Put your best (virtual) foot forward

Like any recruiting experience, virtual interviews can be intimidating. But with the right preparation, you can dissolve your nerves and approach your phone or video interview with confidence.

Organize your space beforehand, practice interview questions, and research the company in depth. Who knows — the desk you’re sitting at during the interview could become your new work-from-home setup.