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How To Prepare for a Virtual Interview – 3 Primary Secrets

Do you need a different skill set to know how to prepare for a virtual interview? Definitely no. When you are invited to interview for a position, the invite is usually followed up with an email that includes a link to access a real-time video conferencing software account. Being prepared is key.  This includes looking your best on the screen and having technology that aids in providing a professional appearance. This transition from putting on your best outfit and traveling, either across town or across the county, to now meeting virtually, has happened rapidly. Not everyone was prepared. Maybe you have talked to friends on a video chat, and taken a selfie or two, but now you are giving your prospective employer a great first impression from the comfort of your own home, and everything else that comes with it.

How To Prepare for a Virtual Interview

How To Prepare for a Virtual Interview – Looking Marvelous

Professional Appearance

While the location and interaction have changed, you still need to dress the part. Studies show that there are personal benefits to putting on professional clothes. It affects your mood and you want to be as upbeat as possible during your interview.  Start at your hairstyle and go all the way down to your buffed shoes. 

Looking at Your Digital Best

When you are testing your equipment, determine the best spot in your home that gives the best lighting for crisp video.  If the interview is in the morning, which window has the best light? In case it is an afternoon interview, you may need to be in a different part of the home.  If there is no great natural light in your space, then you will need to create it as described in the mini-studio section below. As you find the greatest light, consider what is behind you. There should be no clutter or too many personal belongings, such as piles of books or laundry. You want to be the focal point, not other objects in the room. A nice and neat environment will show your potential employer how detail-oriented and organized you are.

Children are adorable when they show up in a video chat with your mom, but not while you are discussing your management background. Eliminate all outside distractions, especially your cell phone.  Complete silence is your goal.  This may include closing windows, turning off the air conditioner/heater, and sitting away from windows adjacent to the neighbor who decides to mow their lawn at that moment.

Fight your desire to do an internet search in the middle of your interview.  Do a little research on the company before the interview and have notes in case you need them. Having a copy of your resume will also help you remember dates and key points you want to share. When they ask a question, be prepared with an answer. You can prepare for the common interview questions, such as “What is your greatest strength”, “Why do you want this position,” and “What is your biggest achievement.” Being prepared will show confidence. You can also prepare questions for them because you know they will ask. Be yourself. Don’t memorize things that will make you sound robotic. Practice with 3 or 4 of your friends so you can be comfortable with different personalities.

How To Prepare for a Virtual Interview: Body Language

We no longer use a handshake to show confidence, nor can we easily look someone in the eye when giving our first impression.  To appear like you are looking someone in the eye you look at the camera on your computer and not their actual eyes on the screen.  Body language is very much a part of the virtual interview. Sit up straight, smile, and be your best self.

How To Prepare for a Virtual Interview – Technology

Virtual Interview

Long before you plan to have the first virtual interview you need to make sure all aspects of technology are in working order. Employers need to know you are savvy with all things virtual. Think ahead of possible obstructions to having the best virtual interview of your career. How is your internet/phone connection?  If you have limited connectivity you will need to learn what slows it down.  It could be that others in your household are sharing your bandwidth that results in a choppy video call.  You may have other programs open on your computer that is competing for resources. If using the internet, your router or modem may be old and need replacing, or you may need to hardwire directly into your modem for a faster connection.

How are your computer’s camera and microphone working?  Find a friend or family member that can do a test for audio and video in general.  If you find your microphone is blown or produces an echo, then you may consider getting an external microphone. If you experience a fuzzy image, try cleaning the video camera on your computer. In case it is still blurry, it may be the lighting, or you may need an external camera. We will review that in more detail in the mini-studio section. Many cell phones have wonderful cameras and audio, so be sure to test those as well. It all depends on your level of comfort with a particular technology.

Setting up a mini studio

No potential employer wants to see you fumbling around with your audio and lighting during the virtual interview. Since you will likely be using video conferencing and a home office once you land that new position, it would benefit you to have a mini studio created and available in a minute’s notice.

You don’t need to spend a fortune to get good results. You may have some of the components already in your toolbox. Here are the basic equipment needs:

  • Smartphone or iPad, or computer with a camera (iPhone 6 or better, similar Samsung models)
  • Tripod for your cell phone/iPad
  • Lighting – natural is good but may need something like an LED Ring Light, or photo umbrella
  • Clip-on the microphone for cell phone or computer

Another consideration is your background that shows during the video conference.  You may be familiar with green screens, but now you can use virtual backgrounds on video conferencing platforms without one.  You might consider using virtual virtual background images by Hello Backgrounds.  They offer beautiful backgrounds for all your video calls and meetings, whether on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Skype.  Match the mood of your prospective client.

How To Prepare for a Virtual Interview – Stand out from the Crowd

How can you make them remember you over the possible dozens of interviews they have scheduled this week? Making a personal connection through a short aside about a common interest could help.  You may see a model ship on their bookshelf that prompts a very brief story from your childhood of sailing with your grandfather. This personal connection could help them remember you. Following up with a thank-you email can also help.

So, how to prepare for a virtual interview? The key is to be prepared.  Begin this process days or weeks before you know you will have your first interview. You will then appear confident, professional, and ready for your new position.

Zoey Peregrine
Zoey is a skillful content manager and SEO copywriter. She is interested in digital marketing and also writes informative articles on web development. In her free time, she prefers reading and taking part in quests.
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