7 Online Interview Tips for a Successful Virtual Job Interview
Using the internet to search for a job has long been the norm, and now, using videoconferencing software to interview for employment opportunities is on the rise. Colleges and companies have increasingly been leveraging virtual interviews to connect with applicants.

Preparing for a virtual interview requires a few new skills and considerations, which can set you apart and move you forward in the application process. Following a few online interview tips might just help you land your next job or internship.

“The biggest hurdle of virtual interviews is that it’s more difficult for the interviewer to get a feel for your presence,” explained Stephanie Cothran, a career consultant in the Career Center at Azusa Pacific University. “Your mannerisms, your body language, and how it feels to be in a room with you.” Still, there are a few tricks to help you engage with your interviewer.

Here are seven tips for putting your best foot forward in your next virtual job interview.

1. Ensure a Strong Wi-Fi Connection

First and foremost, it’s crucial to ensure your internet connection is strong! Interviewing remotely requires dependable, quality video and audio feeds. When trying to demonstrate your abilities and present yourself professionally, the last thing you need is an unstable connection that’s constantly buffering.

You’re likely aware of how good (or poor) the Wi-Fi connection is in certain areas of your house, so plan to conduct the interview in a spot with good connectivity where you’ll be able to concentrate. If you have roommates or others in your house, kindly ask them to hold off on streaming videos or games during your interview to free up bandwidth and keep your connection strong.

2. Get the Right Angle, Lighting, and Sound

You’ve probably been on a video call with bad angles, poor lighting, or choppy audio, where you can’t quite see or hear who you’re talking to. In addition to being distracting, this can be downright frustrating.

When preparing for a virtual interview, make sure to consider the angle, lighting, and sound quality of your space. Ultimately, you want to look (and sound) just as presentable on camera as you would in person.

An easy way to find the best angle is by setting your computer at shoulder height. You might need to stack a few textbooks to get it right, but your computer’s camera should be at eye level with you. In addition to helping you feel more confident, it also puts the interviewer at ease.

When considering your lighting, it’s best to always opt for natural light. Open your curtains and allow the sunshine to hit the front of your face. It’s important to avoid being backlit by any light behind you, as the effect can make it hard for the interviewer to see you.

For quality audio, use headphones to minimize any sounds coming from your computer (and to help stay focused). Just be cognizant of the location of your microphone—if it’s attached to your headphones, it could cause feedback whenever it brushes against your clothing.

3. Practice Looking at the Camera

Cothran suggests that individuals practice looking at—and talking to—their computer’s camera. “The person that you’re talking to will feel like you’re connecting with them,” she said.

This may feel a bit jarring at first, so Cothran recommends practicing with a friend to master your ability to make eye contact digitally. In addition to helping you connect with your interviewer, it can benefit your delivery and overall presentation.

If you’re having trouble talking to the camera, Cothran explained that minimizing your video screen so it’s a small thumbnail under your camera lens can help you get more comfortable. “This makes it easier to make ‘eye contact’ with the camera lens,” she noted.

4. Consider Your Background

While you may have already given thought to the angle, lighting, and sound quality of your interview space, you also need to consider your background to create a suitable environment. As before, you don’t want anything distracting the interviewer from what you bring to the table.

Find a place with a calm background, which means no glaring television screens, animals, children, or general clutter. Those things can detract from the interview, so keeping them out of frame (or moving yourself to a room with a closed door) can help you stay focused. Some videoconferencing software offers the option to use a virtual background. While you may be tempted to choose a tropical beach as your setting, remember you want to exhibit a sense of professionalism.

In addition to a calm background, make sure your computer is on a steady surface and not on your lap or hands where things can get wobbly. Even a slight shift can cause the camera to move, which can instantly distract both you and the person you’re speaking with.

5. Practice Your Answers

When you’re interviewing virtually, your answers to interviewers’ questions should be the same as they’d be if you were face-to-face, and it helps to practice them ahead of time. Preparing beforehand can help you think on your feet during the interview.

If you have a few points you want to make, you can put a small sticky note on your screen (where the camera doesn’t pick it up) to help you stay focused. As you practice answering, be sure to modulate your voice to emphasize certain points and convey emotion.

“All of the standards we have for an awesome interview are magnified in an online video because you can’t get them with your charisma,” Cothran emphasized. “You have to get the interviewer with your answers because people have very little to distract them.”

6. Amplify Your Expressions

In addition to amplifying your delivery, your facial expressions need to be amplified a bit more on virtual job interviews. You don’t want to come off as a game show host, but sometimes people can look bored or disinterested in their natural state.

In a video interview, you need to feel engaged. “If you need to use your hands, use your hands. Make yourself smile and laugh a little bit—your eyes will light up, and your interviewer will be able to relate to you as a human being,” Cothran suggested. You have to work harder to connect with your interviewer. Amplifying your expressions can help you stand out!

7. Follow Up Afterward

Virtual or not, be sure to follow up with your interviewer within a day or two. It’s standard to send a thank-you email.

Following up is one more touchstone that can set you apart amid a sea of virtual interviews. To ensure your note helps you stand out and reminds the interviewer of your conversation, try to recall something they specifically said that makes you excited about a position at their company.

Using these online interview tips can help you feel prepared for your next virtual interview and put you on the road to a promising career. If you’re looking for additional resources to help you prepare for the next step in your careers, contact the Career Center at Azusa Pacific University.