When you’ve been offered an interview, it’s always a good idea to prepare beforehand so that the only thing you have to worry about the day of is dazzling your interviewer with your personality, experience and enthusiasm. Every interview method has its own variables to prepare for, but with a virtual interview, a lot of them are in your control.
To set yourself up for success, you’ll want to make sure you, your technology and your space are ready to go so that once the interview starts the only thing you will need to focus on is your conversation.
Here is a quick list of ways to prepare for your video interview, and a few tips for the job interview itself, that will help ensure it’s memorable for all of the right reasons.
A few days before the interview
✔️ Do your research
Prepare yourself for this career interview like you would any other. Research the company to learn as much as you can about what they do, who their customers are and what their mission is. Do whatever you need to so that you’re able to go into the interview with a thorough understanding of the job you’re interviewing for.
✔️ Establish a workspace
If you don’t already have a home office, you’re going to need to set up a space to have your interview. Make sure it’s well lit, free of clutter and quiet so that your interviewer will focus on you and not your surroundings during the call.
✔️ Prep, test and troubleshoot your technology
Do as much as you can to avoid any technical difficulties or delays on the day of your interview. Test your computer’s camera and microphone, if possible do a practice run-through on the video call platform you’ll be using. Also, make sure you have a Plan B, like a tablet, if something unforeseen happens to your computer. If you don’t know the ins and outs of your internet connection/source, now is the time to learn, and it’s also a good idea to practice connecting your computer to your phone’s HotSpot just in case you need to resort to it on interview day.
✔️ Come up with a list of questions
Based on which stage of the interview process you are in you’ll want to come up with a list of questions for the interviewer. Make sure you are asking ones appropriate for the interviewee.
✔️ Do some salary research
If you haven’t done so already, look around to help you determine the industry’s average salary for the job you’re interviewing for. Take your experience level and current salary into account to determine your desired salary for the job.
The day before the interview
✔️ Review any research and prepared questions
Finish up any lingering research you need to do and add any new questions you want to ask during the interview to your list. Look over everything once again to ensure you can bring something to the conversation no matter what direction it goes.
✔️ Make sure your workspace is clean
Do a once-over in your workspace to make sure things are picked up and distractions are limited. Free your desk of clutter so all you have is a notepad to take notes on and your research in case you need to reference it at all during the interview.
✔️ Reduce the risk of distractions
This is a good time to confirm plans for your kids to keep them occupied if they will be home during the call.
✔️ Practice an elevator pitch
You should have a quick, succinct explanation of your experience, interest in the position and the primary reasons why you are a good fit for the job. Practice it out loud throughout the day to yourself, or with another person in your household if possible.
✔️ Practice answers to commonly asked questions
Research commonly asked questions and practice how you will respond. Feel free to write your answers down and make a cheat sheet for your interview if that is helpful.
✔️ Re-check your technology
This doesn’t need to be super involved, just do a quick run-through to make sure everything is working as it should. If something isn’t working and it can’t be quickly and easily fixed, try not to stress out and just resort to Plan B.
✔️ Dress like you would for an in-person interview
It’s tempting to pair your ironed shirt and blazer with yoga pants and slippers, but getting completely dressed up can help make the interview feel more formal and keep you on your game. Plus, you never know if you’re going to need to stand up unexpectedly to shoo a pet or kid out of your space.
✔️ Minimize as many distractions as possible
If you aren’t able to secure a babysitter during your interview, set the kids up with something that will keep them occupied for 30 minutes or so to avoid interview-crashing. Also, put pets outside or in a room where they’re less likely to distract you.
✔️ Practice the elevator pitch again
Practice a few more times out loud, just before the interview, to make sure you remember it well and it covers the points you want to make.
✔️ Ensure everything is charged
The last thing you want is for something to go wrong because of a low battery. Charge up your computer, tablet and earbuds before the interview so you don’t have to worry about them during the call.
During the interview
✔️ Get into “Do Not Disturb” mode
You don’t want to be interrupted or distracted by notifications, calls, texts, or apps while you are in the middle of the interview. And you definitely don’t want to have the person on the other side hearing buzzing or chimes from the notifications either.
✔️ Have a glass of water nearby
A dry throat, whether from talking or nerves, can be a big interrupter or make you sound less enthusiastic. Keep a drink nearby that you can sip from in case of need.
✔️ Present yourself with confidence
Virtual interviews can be awkward and impersonal, but try your best to act as natural as possible. If seeing your own video feed in the corner of the screen is making you feel self-conscious, turn it off or put a sticky note over it so you can focus on the interview.
✔️ Notify them of any potential distractions
If the kids are home or the dog is prone to barking, give your interviewer a heads up that there could be an interruption. The situation is obviously not ideal, but it’s much more professional for them to have that expectation than to be surprised by an interruption.
✔️ Have a plan for poor connections
Even if you do everything you can to ensure a great connection, sometimes technology still fails. Have a plan in place to use a different video platform, revert to a phone call, or reschedule the interview if this comes up.
✔️ Ask questions and wrap up
When you have the opportunity, ask any lingering questions you have so you get what you need from the interview. Then, as the video call wraps up, say thank you, express your continued interest, and ask about the next steps in the process.
After the interview
✔️ Send a thank you note
Just like any other job interview, send a quick thank you note via email within 24 hours thanking them for their time, calling back to something specific you discussed and letting them know you look forward to hearing back from them.
✔️ Take some time to debrief
Spend a little time going over the interview in your head. What went well? What would you do differently next time? There’s no need to overanalyze or beat yourself up if you misstepped somewhere, just take what you learned to make your next interview even better.
How to Prepare for a Virtual Interview
Whether this is your first virtual interview or you're just looking to brush up on some best practices, check out our virtual interview guide for more details on how to prepare.