Ace Any Virtual Interview: The Ultimate Guide to Nailing Video Calls and Standing Out Digitally- The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically accelerated the rise of remote work and virtual interviews. According to Forbes, 82% of employers now use virtual interviews, and 93% plan to continue using them even after the pandemic. As such, it’s essential for job seekers to understand how to make a stellar impression in a video interview setting.
This guide will provide an overview of the unique challenges of virtual interviews and actionable strategies to tackle them head on. You’ll learn how to optimize your video setup, make a great first impression, prepare for different interview formats, ask thoughtful questions, and follow up effectively. With these tips, you’ll gain the confidence and skills to ace your next virtual interview.
Table of Contents
- Differences from In-Person Interviews
- Your Virtual Interview Setup
- Making a Great Impression Virtually
- Preparing for Common Virtual Interview Formats
- Smart Questions to Ask
- Following Up After the Interview
- Practice Makes Perfect
- Additional Tips
Differences from In-Person Interviews
Lack of in-person interactions and body language cues. In a virtual interview, you lose the ability to read the interviewer’s body language and other non-verbal cues. You also can’t offer a real handshake or use your own body language to convey confidence and interest. This makes nailing your speaking style and tone even more important.
Increased importance of your video/audio quality and setup. With the interviewer’s focus fully on the screen, any glitches, background noise, poor lighting or framing become very obvious. Having the right equipment and testing it ahead of time is key.
Need to sell yourself effectively through the camera. Without the benefit of personal interactions, you have to ensure your enthusiasm, passion and personality shine through your words, facial expressions and tone. Look directly at the camera when speaking to help make that connection.
Your Virtual Interview Setup
When interviewing virtually, your surroundings and equipment setup are crucial to making a great impression. Here are some tips for optimizing your virtual interview space:
Find a quiet, distraction-free room in your home to conduct the video interview. Make sure any background noise like pets, family members, or outside traffic will not interfere. According to [this Harvard Business Review article](https://hbr.org/2021/03/4-tips-to-nail-a-virtual-job-interview), you should “find a space with a neutral background, good lighting, and strong Wi-Fi connection.”
Position your camera at eye level and frame yourself professionally in the center of the shot. Make sure the space is well-lit so the interviewers can see you clearly. Avoid having backlight from a window which will make you appear dark on camera. Check how you appear on video beforehand to perfect your angle and lighting.
Test your equipment thoroughly prior to the interview – webcam, microphone, audio and video software, and internet connection. Make sure you have backups in case of technical issues. According to [this Handshake blog](https://joinhandshake.com/blog/students/how-to-make-a-good-impression-in-a-virtual-job-interview/), you should “Make sure your tech is charged and ready to go at least 10 minutes prior.”
Making a Great Impression Virtually
Making a strong first impression in a virtual interview setting requires paying extra attention to details that can get overlooked on a video call. Follow these tips to look polished and professional from head to toe:
- Dress professionally as if you were attending an in-person interview. Avoid distracting patterns or overly casual attire. Stick to traditional interview classics like a suit or blouse.
- Look directly at the camera when speaking to make eye contact with the interviewer. Avoid glancing at yourself or looking elsewhere on the screen.
- Use a warm, confident tone when speaking. Smile and nod periodically. Avoid nervous mannerisms like fidgeting.
Your body language and demeanor create the first impression in a video interview. Appear poised and engaged by leaning slightly forward towards the camera and maintaining good posture. Treat the video call like an in-person conversation as much as possible.
Preparing for Common Virtual Interview Formats
You may encounter different types of virtual interviews, so make sure you’re prepared for each format.
One-on-One Video Interviews
In a one-on-one video interview, you’ll be speaking directly with the interviewer over a video conferencing platform like Zoom or Google Meet (Types and Tips for Virtual Interviews). Treat this similarly to an in-person interview and be prepared to answer questions just as you would face-to-face. Maintain eye contact by looking into the camera, speak clearly, and dress professionally.
For panel interviews, you’ll be answering questions from multiple interviewers at once through video conferencing. This can feel intimidating, but stay calm and make eye contact with each panelist when you address their questions (What different types of video interviews are there?). Having a list of their names and titles can help you direct your responses. Send a follow up thank you note to each panelist.
Recorded Video Responses
Some interviews will have you record video responses to preset questions on your own time. This allows you to re-record answers to get them right. Be sure you have a professional setup, appropriate attire, and energetic delivery. Check audio and lighting quality before submitting your final videos.
Smart Questions to Ask
At the end of a virtual interview, the interviewer will usually ask if you have any questions. This is your chance to show genuine interest in the role and company. Come prepared with a few thoughtful questions that demonstrate you’ve done your research. Some examples include:
– What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this role? (source)
– How would you describe the company culture here? What type of work environment do you cultivate? (source)
– What are the qualities you look for in top candidates for this role? (source)
– What are some of the goals you’d like the successful candidate to accomplish in the first 3-6 months on the job?
Asking intelligent, engaging questions shows your passion for the opportunity and gives you insights into the company’s priorities and expectations for the role.
Following Up After the Interview
After your virtual interview concludes, following up appropriately is key. First, you should always send a thank you note to your interviewers within 24 hours. This shows professionalism and appreciation for their time. Make sure to customize the note and mention something specific you discussed, thanking them for any insights shared (Indeed, 2023).
Following up with recruiters or hiring managers after the interview is also important. Wait at least one week before checking on your application status. Send a brief email restating your interest in the role and referencing your recent interview. Ask if they need any additional information from you and when you can expect to hear back about next steps (Harvard Business Review, 2020). Avoid pestering them constantly, but one or two polite follow-ups can show you are eager and dedicated.
Practice Makes Perfect
One of the most effective ways to prepare for a virtual interview is to do practice interviews. Mock interviews allow you to simulate the actual experience so you can get comfortable answering questions and presenting yourself professionally through the camera. According to Columbia Southern University, practicing for interviews helps you “feel confident and comfortable during your real interview” (https://www.columbiasouthern.edu/blog/blog-articles/2019/november/interview-practice/).
Practice interviews can be done in a few ways: alone, with a friend, or with a career coach. If practicing alone, record yourself answering common interview questions on video so you can play it back and look for areas of improvement. The University of Connecticut recommends recording mock interviews so you can “receive constructive feedback about your interview skills” (https://career.uconn.edu/blog/2020/11/12/5-reasons-to-schedule-a-practice-interview/). Pay attention to your body language, tone of voice, eye contact, and responses. With repetition, you’ll gain more confidence for the real thing.
Here are some additional tips to keep in mind for your virtual interview:
Arrive 10-15 minutes early to test your technology and ensure everything is working properly. Nothing is worse than scrambling right before the interview to fix any technical issues. Give yourself enough time to resolve any problems calmly .
Have a copy of your resume printed out or available electronically so you can easily reference it during the interview. Make sure you are intimately familiar with your work history and can speak knowledgeably about any points on your resume that come up .
Always send a thank you note or email within 24 hours after the virtual interview. Thank the interviewer for their time and reiterate your interest in and qualifications for the role. This is a crucial and often overlooked step in standing out from other candidates .
In summary, virtual interviews are becoming increasingly common and job seekers need to be prepared to present themselves effectively in remote settings. With the right setup, preparation strategies, and interview techniques, candidates can showcase their qualifications and make a strong impression through the camera.
Some key takeaways include: having a professional, distraction-free environment; testing equipment ahead of time; dressing and grooming professionally; maintaining eye contact and confident body language; preparing for different virtual interview formats you may encounter; asking thoughtful questions; and following up appropriately after the interview.
As remote work becomes more mainstream, virtual interviews are likely here to stay and will only continue growing in popularity. With some practice and adjustment, job seekers can shine in this format, land their dream jobs, and embrace the future of digital hiring.
The emergence of new technologies like video AI interviews and asynchronous interviews also point to an evolution of the virtual interview process. While in-person interviews provide valuable insights, virtual interviews enable companies to cast a wider net and evaluate talent across geographies in an efficient, scalable way. Job seekers should stay adaptable and ready to embrace new innovations in this space.