How to Ace Your Virtual Interview
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- Virtual interviews are popular with employers for many positions today.
- Always review the job, company, and application details before an interview.
- Interview from a quiet, well-lit environment with a good internet connection.
- Come prepared to ask questions, take notes, and follow up with the interviewer.
Virtual interviews are here to stay, even if you'll be working in an office or a hybrid position. According to a 2021 report by HireVue, 41% of hiring leaders said virtual interviews helped them find the best candidates.
The decision to change jobs isn't always easy or affordable, but virtual interviews can make it easier for you to see what's out there and choose the best course for you. Whether you're landing your first job after college or switching fields entirely, following the right interview tips can help you achieve your career goals.
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Ready to Start Your Journey?
To ace a virtual interview, prepare in advance so that you feel confident and excited on the big day. Don't let tech or lack of practice make you appear unconfident. Knowing how to ace a Zoom interview gives you the best chance to get an offer from a company interested in you. Read on for the best virtual interview tips so you can make a great impression.
Review the Job Description and Make Notes Ahead of Time
Before your first job interview with a company, take one more look at the job description. Make sure you understand what the company is looking for and which of your skills and experiences align the best.
Sometimes there's a lag between the time of application and when an interview is offered. It helps to review the job description and some of the company history so you're on the same page as the interviewer.
As you review those details, take note of anything that stands out to you. This could include:
- Concerns you have about the role
- Details around salary, if not included in the original job description
- Anything that remains unclear to you
Check Your Tech
Before your interview starts, test all of your technology. Ask a spouse, friend, or neighbor to help you. The other person can tell you if your lighting and sound work. Here are some other items to check to ensure everything functions properly on the day of the interview:
Double-check that you don't need to download any special software for the interview.
If using Zoom or Skype, ensure your version is the most recent.
Use a speed-testing website to test your upload speed and make sure your connection is stable. Connection speeds of 1.5-3 megabytes per second is optimal.
Reboot your router on the morning of the interview.
Clear your cache and close all tabs before the interview.
Keep at least two forms of headphones within reach in case one doesn't work.
Practice Your Introduction
As you prepare for a virtual interview, you'll want to decide what you want to say at the start of the conversation. Draft a small elevator speech to open the conversation. Common opening questions like, "Why did you apply for this job?" or, "Why do you want to work here?" can be overwhelming. Gather your thoughts in advance.
Here's a simple script to help you: "Thanks for your time today. I'm excited to learn more about XYZ Company and your role there today. This job seemed very well suited to my skills, and I was drawn to the company because of ABC."
If an interviewer asks you to tell them about yourself, share some information about you at work and out of the office. This can break the ice.
Here's an example: "I'm Jenna Cook, and I'm excited to talk with you today about this opportunity. I've been in HR for years, but I've always admired XYZ company. I live in Chicago, and I love it here because the pizza is world-class and there's no shortage of things to do."
Know What You Want to Get Out of the Interview
Most applicants want to do well enough in an interview to advance to the next round. However, you should keep two other clear goals in mind as you enter the video interview: what you want the interviewer to know about you and what you want to know about the company.
For example, perhaps you want to highlight a recent certification you received. Or, maybe you want to discuss how a varied career history puts you in an excellent position to thrive in the role. Remind yourself of these things before signing in to the virtual interview location.
Provide Concrete Examples of Your Achievements
Even if you already went into detail on your resume and cover letter, don't assume that your interviewer read or remembers all of those details. When you're asked questions, try to weave personal career experience and your results back to the question at hand.
Here are some best practice video interview tips for connecting experience to achievements:
Question: What is your biggest weakness?
"Sometimes, I take on more than I can handle at work. I'm eager to be a team player and to finish projects. However, I've created a system where I time block for every project I work on, and at the beginning, I ask my team members where they see themselves fitting in well with the project. It helps break things down and makes people feel empowered to take ownership."
Question: Tell me about a time you failed.
"In the last marketing department I worked in, we had a limited budget for Facebook ads. We overbid because all of us were new to setting ad budgets. We ended up spending $300 more that week than planned. I used that experience to set a baseline budget for every new ad campaign and a checklist we use to monitor ads for accidental spending. Facebook ads are now our best marketing channel."
Evaluate Work Culture
Although you can and should ask direct questions about the company's culture during the interview, look for subtle clues, too. Virtual interviews give you a window into an employee's happiness and perception of the culture.
Here are some work culture cues to pick up on as the conversation unfolds:
- Does the person talk about people taking time off? Does that sound like a hassle or an easy process?
- Does this person seem satisfied with their role and their growth at the company?
- How does the interviewer speak about current and former coworkers?
- Does this person have hobbies outside of work they're able to pursue?
- What kinds of fun things does the team do together, such as annual retreats, playing online games, or weekly virtual lunches?
- How long do people stay at the company, on average?
- If the company has values listed on its website, do you hear examples of those values playing out in real life?
Confirm Next Steps
When the interview wraps up, ask for information about what comes next. Usually, an interviewer can give you a time range in which you can expect to hear from them. Make a note of this so you can follow up if you don't hear from them.
There is no one-size-fits-all timeline for interviews and offer timeframes, unfortunately. Some companies take days or weeks to decide, whereas others take months. If you cannot get a firm answer on the next steps, circle back in two weeks and see if the interviewer has any more details.
Send a Thank-You Note
Once the interview is over, review your notes. Determine if you have any unanswered questions to ask in a follow-up. Even if you don't have questions, send a virtual thank-you note to the interviewer.
Here's a simple script to use when sending your note: "Dear Ms. Coswell, It was great to meet you today and learn more about XYZ Company. I really enjoyed talking with you. It was especially great to hear about ABC project/coworker/value/initiative because that really resonates with what I'm looking for in a role. Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you."
Remember, put yourself in the interviewer's shoes as you prepare and follow up on the conversation. Getting a feel for what a job interviewer looks for and asks can help you practice and might make you feel more confident before the conversation. A great interview could lead to a job offer and salary negotiations, so set yourself up for success with good preparation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Virtual Interviews
What is the best color to wear for a zoom interview?
Many people like to wear white or gray tops to a virtual interview. These are neutral colors that project professionalism. Aim for business casual clothing on camera, even for a remote work environment.
Ensure that your clothing doesn't blend into your wall background or contrast too deeply. For example, avoid a bright orange shirt if your walls are painted purple. Avoid busy patterns and designs that might distract the interviewer from what you're saying. If the company culture is vibrant and creative, it's okay to wear other colors and show your personality.
What should you not do in a virtual interview?
Several tips for virtual interviews can help you avoid a faux pax or bad impression during your conversation. Avoid background noise such as being interrupted by spouses, children, or pets. Steer clear of cutting off the interviewer before they've had a chance to finish speaking.
Failing to show up on time or experiencing avoidable technology challenges don't make a good impression, either. Although an interviewer should focus on what you say in the interview, a clean and uncluttered background is a must, too. You want the interviewer to see that you have a stable internet connection and a quiet and functioning private workspace. They also want to see that you take the interview seriously.
Can you look at notes during a video interview?
You can put some brief bullets on a sticky note or on an open document on your computer for reference. If you have notes, these can jog your memory about things you wanted to say or ask.
An open document works well because you can also take notes there. During your interview, it's natural to look at where the other person is on the screen, which is not always in the same location as your own video camera. Avoid looking at notes in your lap or on the walls around you as this can distract the interviewer.
What are the benefits of a virtual interview?
It's normal to feel nerves and jitters during the interview process. Being able to interview from your own home and familiar space can help decrease your anxiety levels. You won't have to worry about interviewing in an unfamiliar building, possibly running into people you know, or worrying about getting lost on the way there. It also helps with costs. According to a recent BestColleges survey, 23% of people said that transportation costs (such as participating in an in-person interview) are barriers to obtaining a new job. A virtual interview eliminates this emotional and financial stressor