The Dos and Don’ts of Virtual Interviews

Angela Stephanou
Angela Stephanou

Career and Lifestyle Writer

Reviewed by Melina Theodorou

Illustrated man video interview

Virtual interviews have become increasingly popular over the years. With hiring managers and recruiters using video to conduct their interviews, it's only a matter of time before you get asked to attend one yourself.  

The process can be nerve-wracking, but as with any type of job interview, there are ways to ensure you will handle it with ease and confidence. 

To help you impress recruiters and land the job, we've created a list of dos and don'ts for mastering the virtual interview. 

Watch the most essential tips here:

The Dos

1. Research the Company

As with any interview, you must do your homework before the big day. Avoid scrolling through Google during the actual call and do your research beforehand. Read up on the company, explore the job role, and research the professionals who will be interviewing you. With this knowledge in mind, you'll be ready to tackle any questions, inquire about the position, and make a good impression.  

2. Find an Ideal Location

Since you can't be interviewed in an office setting, select an appropriate environment that reflects professionalism. Set up your webcam in a tidy area with sufficient lighting and a blank background without any posters or objects – you want the interviewer to focus only on you. 

An ideal location is at a desk in your home, but if you can't take the interview at your place, consider going to a library or a friend's house.  

3. Check Your Internet Connection 

The last thing you want before a virtual interview is having no internet connection. Save yourself the panic and avoid the dreadful task of having to cancel an interview by testing your connection beforehand. If you don't have strong wi-fi at home, make sure to do the interview elsewhere such as a quiet hotel lounge or a reserved private room. 

A lagging connection will only frustrate the panel and result in miscommunication. If you do happen to run into unexpected internet issues, make sure to inform the interviewers in advance. 

4. Test Your Tools 

A lagging laptop, a faulty webcam, or a dysfunctional microphone can also result in an interview gone wrong. Make sure the video platform you're using (i.e. Skype or Zoom) is working correctly by testing it beforehand; a good idea is to do a quick test call with a friend. You should also check your audio and microphone and do a test run with your webcam. 

5. Rehearse the Interview 

If you've never done a digital interview before, it'd be wise to practice ahead of the big day. Prepare for the interview by either doing a trial call with a friend who can give you feedback or by recording a practice interview that you can watch later. 

A rehearsal will boost your self-confidence and prepare you for the real thing. Try running through common interview questions, practice looking directly at the webcam instead of yourself, and try out different postures and tones of voice. 

6. Dress Appropriately 

Just because a virtual interview isn't in person doesn't mean you shouldn't dress the part. Whether your interview is taking place at home or in the local library, you must still wear a professional outfit.

Research the company's dress code and try to match your attire ensemble to it as best you can. Make sure to dress appropriately from the waist down too – you don't want your potential boss catching a glimpse of your Disney-themed bottoms. 

7. Stay Professional 

It's easy to get comfortable and a little too casual while interviewing from the comfort of your home. However, you must treat the interview like you would in a physical workplace by maintaining a professional tone and stance. So, that means avoiding the use of slang, keeping a good posture, and focusing on your interviewers. 

8. Show Your Personality 

While it's crucial to stay professional, it's important to let your personality shine through during the interview. Reading social cues in a video call can be tricky, so try to communicate your charisma through the screen. 

Some things to keep in mind is to smile and make eye contact with your recruiters. Don't be afraid to show off your humour either (while keeping professional). Employers want to hire people who are skilled and experienced, but pleasant to be around, too. 

9. Be Confident 

It's normal to be apprehensive in any interview, but for camera-shy people, virtual calls can be even more stressful. Try to remain calm, confident and proactive; as much as you might hate being in front of the camera, it's crucial that you discuss your skills and experience with clarity and confidence. 

Ask questions, and if you can't hear them due to technical glitches, don't be shy to pause and ask them to repeat themselves. The hiring panel will respect you for your self-assurance and poise. 

10. Follow Up 

Other than giving a good impression on-camera, you must demonstrate this off-camera too. Do this by following up after the interview with a 'thank you' note. This will not only show that you're determined but respectful, too. It will also help you stand out among other candidates.  


The Don'ts 

1. Be Late 

There may be no traffic to worry about, but you could still be late for you to be late for your virtual interview. Technical crashes, a broken webcam, or a crying child could keep you from being punctual. Do your best to be on time and ready for that impending call by preparing yourself minutes or even hours beforehand. 

2. Sit in a Public Place 

If you truly want to convey professionalism, loud, public places are a no-go. Finding the perfect setting for your interview might be a struggle, but your local coffee shop is guaranteed to be a noisy and distracting environment. There's no use taking an interview if your answers can't be heard and it will be downright embarrassing if you keep having to shout over a busy background.  

3. Use a Silly Username 

Make sure your username and email address sound and look professional. Avoid adding your potential boss as a contact if you're written under 'cutie90' or ‘actionman2000 at gmail dot com'. Instead, create an account that is specifically meant for professional use and with a username that won't leave you red-faced in front of the panel. 

4. Fiddle with the Camera 

Virtual interviews can be messy – especially when there's a shaky video screen. Don't mess around with the webcam too much, as it will leave your interviewers dizzy and distracted. 

If you need to use a mobile phone for the video call, prop it up somewhere where it can't rock or fall. Likewise, set up a laptop or webcam on a steady surface. This will save you from a lot of awkward movements during the call. 

5. Get Distracted 

A great technique to show professionalism and confidence during an interview is keeping eye contact with the hiring panel. Otherwise, it's easy to get distracted by other things. 

A safe plan would be to switch off your mobile phone, close any other computer programmes and sit in a distraction-free zone in your house. It's also vital that you do not stare at your own reflection during the call – only pay attention to the interviewer.  

6. Turn the Camera Off 

As mentioned earlier, video interviews can be terrifying when you're camera-shy; although tempting, do not turn off your camera. Both you and the hiring panel should be visible during a virtual call, so keep the camera on throughout. It will be quite awkward for your potential employer to be speaking to a blank screen; plus, it demonstrates a lack of ability to handle video calls in a real work setting. 

7. Use the Computer for Reference 

During the interview, you may want to refer to something that's included in your CV or portfolio. However, it's important to avoid clicking through your computer and searching through files while on the call – instead, print them out to use them for reference. And if you need to take notes, opt to jot them down by hand instead of typing them up, as this will look more professional. 

8. Recite Your Interview Answers 

Another major interview mistake is reading out your interview answers from a screen or paper. Do not underestimate your interview panel – they'll definitely know! While you should prepare some answers for the most challenging interview questions, you mustn't read them off a script. 

You wouldn't do this if the interview were in person, so there's no need to do it online. Instead, practice your answers in advance, and try to memorise your best responses so you can use them on the spot. 

9. Interrupt the Interviewer 

Virtual interviews can be frustrating, especially when there is more than one interviewer. People tend to interrupt and talk over each other, and this results in overlapping communication. If this is the case with the interview panel, stay silent and wait for the chatter to end before giving your answers. 

It's also vital to avoid cutting off the interviewers mid-sentence. If you disagree with something, do not talk over them; strike yourself as professional by waiting for the employers to finish talking. 

10. Forget Body Language 

Just as you would in a physical interview, be mindful of your body language. Do not slouch, avoid smiling excessively, and don't stare at the screen. Instead, sit up straight, control your expressions, and use your hands to express yourself. Of course, do this moderately, and not in an animated or forced manner. 

There are many techniques you can use in order to master virtual interviews. As long as you're prepared and professional, you're bound to make an excellent impression to the hiring managers, and hopefully, stand out among other candidates. 

Have you got any other tips for a successful virtual interview? Let us know in the comments section below!