Virtual Job Interviews: How to Prepare and Succeed

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Virtual interviews are not going away anytime soon.

The past few months have seen some workplace conventions questioned and reanalysed, such as flexible hours, working from home, and open offices. Additionally, many companies now see the benefit of conducting, at least initially, job interviews virtually.

We asked a number of professionals what are their top tips when you receive a message to say that you are to meet your potential new employer behind a screen.

Wear appropriate clothing.

Dress as if you were going to a face-to-face interview. This includes your trousers and shoes, even though no one will see them. You want to feel the part and be as formal as possible. Also, avoid shirts with plaids and bold stripes as they can be distracting. Additionally, white shirts reflect screen light. This leads to overexposure on your face, which means people can not easily read your facial expressions.

Study the job description.

Think about how you can show your added value to the company. Find those real-life examples of your achievements and practice saying them. Relying on a ‘script’ because you can keep it hidden from sight can mean that you end up sounding unnatural…and unprepared. However, to show that you are interested in the company and the position, prepare a list of questions for the end of the interview.

Focus on them.

Eye contact is important in virtual interviews. If you are looking at something else on the screen, people will notice if your attention is not on them.

If possible, stand.

You think clearer and you can speak clearer. If you prefer to sit, have a good posture so you can breathe better. In the comfort of your own home, two minutes before any virtual interviews, you can try the power-pose technique to boost your confidence.

Keep it real.

Do not use a fake background. And try to have something rather than just an empty white wall behind you. People are naturally curious, and if they can see you live in an organised place, it can only help. Flowers or a clean room can provide a subliminal message to the viewer that you are neat and organised. A dark room or too many shadows can give the wrong impression.

Use your hands.

Do not always keep your hands hidden. Using hand expressions makes you look more open, and on-screen, it can help accentuate a point or an idea.

Virtual meetings limit non-verbal communication.

Try to concentrate on your voice and use intonation, strategic pauses … and remember to smile when talking!

Do not shy away from sharing your screen.

Do this if you want to show your portfolio or even go over points on your CV. People will also appreciate the visual change.

Have everything at hand.

Water, paper, CV, pens. Your correspondent has made the mistake of having to leave an important meeting to raid his daughter’s desk to find a working pen.

Warm-up your voice.

If you have not spoken to anybody before the meeting, your voice may sound toneless. Warm it up by speaking to yourself or a friend for five minutes, or try these voice exercises to sound your best.


Further Reading:

Job Interview: “To be or not to be” by 

How to Prepare for an Interview by 

The reason zoom calls drain your energy, by Manyu Jiang, BBC, 22 April 2020.


Photo by geralt


Addison Holmes Addison Holmes

I am a writer and teacher. My professional focus is on teaching language skills to ESL students. My management experience in the private sector and with various international organisations has led me to specialise in teaching business English. I work to ensure that business people who need to use English as a second-language can understand, and can be understood and better express themselves in their professional field.

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