3 Easy Ways to Perfect Your Virtual Interview: Advice from the Experts

We’re in the midst of unprecedented times, and though common, virtual interviewing has become the new standard—and we want you to have all the tools you need to succeed. We’ve compiled our advice on nailing your virtual interview, along with some tips from the experts at Vanguard, Shift Profile, and Juno!

Below, we’ll discuss how to prep for your virtual interview, from what to wear to setting up your video’s background. We’ll also talk about ways to engage the interviewer during a virtual conversation using non-verbal cues, along with advice on all things tech-related. Read on!

1. The Prep Before the Interview

A reminder you may need to hear: Don’t psych yourself out. Prep for your virtual interview much like how you’d prep for an in-person interview: Research the company and get to know what they’re all about, practice your responses to common interview questions, prepare questions to ask the interviewer, and dress professionally.

Julia Murphy, University & Recruiting Partnerships Lead at Vanguard, and Mike Borrelli, University Relations & Partnerships Manager at Vanguard, also stress that a virtual interview is not much different than an in-person meeting. They recommend you:

  • Carefully read the instructions sent by the recruiter—including the time of the interview and how to access the meeting
  • Practice speaking into the camera
  • Get comfortable with the technology you’re using: Learn the features of the application beforehand!

In your prep, you’ll also want to prepare any materials. Though you won’t be handing the interviewer your resume in this scenario, you’ll want to have all your materials organized and in an accessible place before the interview.

Dylan Foley, Director of Sales and Operations at Juno Search Partners, also recommends you:

  • Print out any materials you may refer to during the interview, like your resume, so that you are not playing with the screen during the interview
  • Test out the video and microphone before the interview takes place to ensure everything is in working order
  • Dress professionally!

2. Setting Up Your Space

Choose a well-lit, quiet space that looks professional. You’ll want to be aware of any decorations or artwork on your walls—these are more than fine to have, as long as they are professional. 

Dylan from Juno recommends that you:

  • Sit in a well-lit area with not too much distraction behind you
  • Find a professional area, for example, not sitting on your bed!

Avoiding distraction is another key to success, and this is where controlling your environment becomes so important.

Take it from Julia & Mike from Vanguard. They recommend you:

  • Control your environment: Pick a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted
  • Make sure the lighting in your location is right for the video camera, and test this in advance. You don’t want to be distracted by adjusting your lighting during the interview!

3. Non-Verbal Communication

A big, and important, aspect of any interview is not just focusing on what you’re saying—but focusing on what you’re not saying, too.

During a virtual interview, you may find it harder to show off your personality the way you would during a virtual meeting. Anna Papalia, Founder & CEO of Shift Profile explained it to us this way: Non-verbal communication is a very real and a very important part of how we communicate, and 80% of the messages that we receive are non-verbal. You’ll have to work harder to pick up on the cues during a virtual interview—but because you’re in your own space, you can feel a little more at ease.

Anna also recommends being even more obvious with your answers, and your interest in the position, because it’s harder to pick up on subtleties in a virtual interview.

Julia & Mike from Vanguard also say to:

  • Be confident and make good eye contact. The recruiter will still be able to see if you’re looking down at notes for long periods of time or are distracted for other reasons 
  • Put your phone away and turn off computer notifications

Eliminating distractions, especially tech-related distractions, will help you focus on your verbal and non-verbal cues throughout your interview!

Additional Tips

If we haven’t said it enough: Treat your virtual meeting like your in-person interview.

That means:

  1. “Be yourself! Let your personality shine as you would during an in-person interview.” -Dylan at Juno
  2. “Don’t ask inappropriate questions, wait your turn to speak, and add value to the conversation.” -Anna from Shift
  3. “Always have a back-up plan!” -Julia & Mike from Vanguard

Bonus: The PHLCVB is making these Philadelphia photos available for interviewees to spice up their Zoom backgrounds! Learn more about Zoom backgrounds here.

So, what’s next? Whether you’ve already got your virtual interview lined up or you’re just starting your job search, our team at Campus Philly has a ton of career advice to offer.

Start with the basics: Get all the resume-building tips here and conquer your cover letter here, and reach out to us with any other questions on nailing your virtual interview.