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10 Virtual Job Interview Preparation Tips

Mary Gormandy White
Woman on a virtual job interview

Have you been invited to interview for a job remotely? Wondering how to prepare? As with any interview, it's important to present your best self when you're interviewing via virtual technology. This includes preparing for the job interview by getting ready to answer questions about your skills, qualifications, and fit for the job, as well as considering how you'll come across in a virtual format.

1. Verify Virtual Interview Details

When the recruiter lets you know that you've been selected to interview for the job via a remote interview, the first thing you should do - of course - is accept. Next, you'll need to verify all the details, including the exact interview time. Make sure to note the time zone the scheduler is using and adjust for your local area. If the recruiter schedules your interview via phone, ask for the details, write them down, and follow-up via email to verify. If the recruiter contacts you via email, the details you need will probably be in the message you receive. Just check to be sure, and reach out with any questions so you aren't scrambling to get information at the last minute.

2. Test the Tech in Advance

Don't wait until just a few minutes before the interview to test the virtual meeting software the interviewer is using. You don't want to miss out on being considered for the job because of log-in issues due to a lack of preparation! When you receive an email with a link for the interview, check the fine print for technology testing tips. Chances are, there will be a link you'll need to click to verify that you can log in with no problem. Do a test right then so you can take care of any system tweaks (such as driver installs) that are needed well in advance of the interview. Beyond just logging in, also check to verify that your speakers or headphones and microphone are working, as well as your webcam or camera.

3. Choose Your Interview Location

Decide where you will position yourself for the interview. If you already have a home office, that is probably the ideal spot. If not, choose a quiet spot where you can be sure there won't be interruptions or noise. Check out what the background looks like via your webcam so you can get a sense of how your surroundings might impact the first impression you make on the interviewer. Also consider connectivity considerations. If you don't have high speed internet at home, you may want to go somewhere else for your interview. Make any adjustments needed so you won't have to deal with last-minute tweaks prior to the interview.

4. Choose the Right Top for the Interview

When you interview remotely, the interviewer will only see you from the shoulders up. When deciding what to wear, you don't have to follow traditional interview advice about wearing a full business suit and making sure your shoes aren't scuffed. You do need to put some thought into choosing a blouse, shirt or other top (jacket, sweater, etc.), that will convey an image appropriate for the position. If you're applying for a traditional office job or if you'll be working remotely but conducting videoconference meetings with clients, then professional business attire is a safe choice. However, if you're applying for a remote job that isn't customer facing or a position in a business casual office, then it's fine to opt for a business casual look. Don't wear a top that would be inappropriate for an in-person interview, and you should be fine.

Man wearing suit jacket and orange shorts

5. Experiment With the Interview Platform

Your next step should be to familiarize yourself with the platform. Most virtual collaboration programs used for remote interviews offer free versions or free trials, which can be a great tool to use when getting ready to ace a virtual job interview. The information you receive from the recruiter should specify what platform the company will be using; if not, you can ask when clarifying details of the interview. Zoom is among the most popular virtual meeting software platforms for virtual interviews, and they do have a free version that you can download and use in a limited capacity. If you can't find free access to what the interviewer will be using, chances are that it'll be similar to Zoom.

6. Recruit a Friend to Do a Mock Interview With You

Once you find a way to test the tech, ask a trusted friend to put you through the paces of a mock job interview. Then, have that person conduct a mock interview with you so you can practice answering interview questions in this context while also getting a sense of how it works for a two-way dialogue. Show your friend the job description or job posting to help him or her come up with some typical and challenging interview questions to ask. Let your helper know that you would like brutally honest constructive feedback so you can improve your remote interviewing skills.

7. Pay Attention to Your Body Language

In addition to helping you get comfortable with the technology, doing a mock interview via the virtual interview platform will also help you get an idea of how you come across on camera. You'll be able to see your image as you're doing the practice session with your friend, so you'll get a sense of how your posture comes across and make some decisions about how to best present yourself to the interviewer. Also pay attention to how you gesture while speaking. If you tend to talk with your hands and they show up on camera, then take care to be sure your nails are properly groomed for the interview.

Businesswoman having video conference

8. Restart Your Equipment on Interview Day

A few hours before the remote interview, restart your router and the computer or mobile device that you plan to use for the interview to be sure there are no lurking system updates waiting to cause problems when you join the interview or while it's in session. This is a good strategy for helping to prevent unexpected tech issues from causing extra stress just prior to the interview or - even worse - causing you to be late or to miss the appointment entirely.

9. Get Situated for Your Interview

Gather documents you might need during the interview, such as your resume or a printout of your job application, and make sure they're within easy reach in case you need to reference them during the conversation. Place a glass of water within easy reach in case you need it, but make sure it's not so close that it could get knocked over on your computer. If you're interviewing for the type of job where you may be asked to show samples of your work during the conversation, make sure you have some samples close enough to be able to hold them up to the camera. Mute your phone and any other devices or applications that might make noise during the interview. Let everyone else in your home know that your interview is approaching and ask them to keep quiet and stay away from the area you'll be using until you give them an all-clear that the interview is over.

10. "Arrive" a Bit Early

Even though you've done everything possible to make sure that there are no technology glitches, things still happen sometimes. Log on at least 10 - 15 minutes in advance of your scheduled meeting time. If the interviewer is on another meeting or hasn't launched the interview yet, you'll just be placed in a waiting room until he or she activates the session. If you log on and there are issues, you'll still have time to switch to another device. Either way, you'll be sitting (or standing!) there ready to go when the interviewer arrives, which is a great way to send a message that you're really interested in the job.

Ace Your Remote Interview

By following these tips specific to remote interviewing and other key tips to prepare for a job interview, you'll be fully prepared to do a great job selling your skills to the recruiter or hiring manager. No matter what questions you're asked, you'll be confident in your ability to sell your skills via the remote interview process. After the interview, you may want to send a thank you note or email to the interviewer. This kind of follow-up can help you stand out from other candidates and secure a job offer!

10 Virtual Job Interview Preparation Tips