How to Prepare for a Virtual Interview

The Prepped Team

April 15, 2020

10 minutes

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As employees continue to work from home or in hybrid models, virtual and video interviews have transitioned from being the exception to the norm for candidates and recruiters alike. Knowing how to prepare for video interviews is now crucial to landing everything from your first job to the role of your dreams. In this webinar, Prepped partners with RBC Senior Recruiters Amanda Bibeau and Kathryn Tooley to discuss best practices for virtual interviews, along with tips and tricks to help you shine in front of the screen––even if it feels awkward at first. 

What is a virtual interview?

The only difference between a virtual and in-person interview is the location it takes place. Virtual interviews occur online via a video platform (for example, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet or Webex) chosen by the company or recruiter conducting the interview. You’re still expected to show up in the same manner you would for an in-person interview. As a bonus, you won’t waste time struggling to find the building or specific location––just log in!

Types of virtual interviews

There are two types of virtual interviews, with only a few differences that set them apart.

1. Pre-recorded interviews

  • One-way interaction with the camera
  • Recording software is used for the interview
  • Responses to pre-set interview questions are recorded and sent to the recruiter

2. Live video interviews

  • Two-way, real-time interaction with the interviewer
  • Conferencing software is used for the interview
  • Questions are asked directly by the interviewer

What to expect in a virtual interview

Expectations for a virtual interview should feel similar to an in-person interview. Where your interview is and how it begins may feel different, but the flow of conversation and style of the questions will remain the same.

The calendar invite - The recruiter will send you a calendar invite that includes the day and time of your interview, the “room” (the video platform) where it will, and the name of the person interviewing you (if different from the recruiter).

The “room” - You may hear recruiters refer to the “room” you will interview in, which is just formal talk for the video platform where the interview will take place. The person interviewing you will be waiting in the “room” for you.

The interview - The interview itself will follow the same format as an in-person meeting. You will be asked various questions about your experience and the role

How to prepare for a virtual interview

1. Test your tech

The recruiter will send you a calendar invite that includes the date and time of your interview, the video platform on which it’ll occur, and the name of the person interviewing you (if different from the recruiter). Make sure to download and test out the video platform and any equipment (earphones, external microphones, lighting) in advance of your interview date. Practice basic features like muting and unmuting, turning your camera on and off, and screen-sharing.

2. Dress for success 

Just because you’re interviewing from your living room or bedroom doesn’t mean you can get away with wearing anything you’d like. Ditch your sweatpants for professional attire similar to what you’d wear to an in-person interview. Your virtual interview style can be slightly less formal than an in-office meeting, and depends on the type of company you’re interviewing for, but should still be a step up from your everyday wear.

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3. Prepare for interview questions as you a normal interview 

Virtual interview expectations are similar to those of an in-person interview. Where your interview takes place and how it begins may feel different, but the flow of conversation and style of questions will remain the same. Common questions include wanting to know about your professional experience, why you’re interested in the role, inquiring about your strengths and weaknesses, and asking about times you demonstrated leadership or overcame workplace challenges. 

4. Rid yourself of distractions and background noise 

In advance of your video interview, make sure you have a quiet place to meet or record that’s free of audio or visual distractions for both you and the interviewer. Now’s not the time to find out if your dog likes to make unexpected Zoom cameos. Closed doors and windows make for successful, uninterrupted virtual interviews. If you live with roommates, family, or a partner, make sure to remind them you’ll be doing an important interview. 

5. Monitor your body language

It can be easy to forget about your body language in the comfort of your own home, but it’s important to send the right signals just like you would in an in-person interview. Don’t slouch, rock back and forth in your chair, or constantly fidget. Also practice making eye contact with the camera to appear confident and help your interviewer feel a natural connection with you as a candidate.

6. Be yourself

Don’t worry about appearing like an A-list celebrity on camera. The most important thing during any interview is to be yourself, quirks and all. Even over video, a recruiter will be able to tell if you’re putting on an act or trying to cover something up. Embrace your uniqueness and use that confidence to sell potential employers on what you––and only you––can bring to the workplace.

7. Find common ground with the interviewer 

Recruiters and employers like to hire people who they like. It’s just a natural part of human nature. Boost your chances of forging a genuine connection and leaving a good impression by making strong eye contact, mirroring body language (within reason), and asking thoughtful interview questions when given the opportunity. If the interviewer attempts to make small talk, definitely take them up on it and use it as a chance to find something you have in common.

6. Do not forget to follow up

It can be easy to forget formalities when virtual interviews often feel more casual than in-person ones, but you absolutely shouldn’t forget to send a thank you note. Follow up later the same day or within 24 hours with a short note thanking your interviewer for their time and reiterating a few short points about why you’re a good fit for the role and/or why you’re excited to join their team. Even if you don’t think the interview went well, a follow-up is important to keep you in consideration for future roles and opportunities. 

Tools to practice for a virtual interview

Feeling overwhelmed? You’re not alone. Here are some useful tools to help ace your next video interview.

1. AI Interviewer tool

Log on to your next virtual interview like you’re already hired with the help of Prepped’s AI Interviewer tool. Build your confidence by selecting from dozens of common interview questions, recording your responses, and receiving AI feedback in real time. The AI Interviewer analyzes your facial expressions, pacing, and energy levels to find areas you can improve to boost your chances of success.

2. STAR Method for common interview questions 

The STAR method is an easy four-step system technique for answering behavioural-based questions in an interview. The STAR method helps you translate prior experience from school, other jobs, volunteer work, and even your personal life into thoughtful answers that will impress interviewers. Learn more about how to use the STAR method