How To Stand Out During a Virtual Interview

The shift toward remote work has accelerated dramatically due to COVID-19 and is expected to continue long after. It’s no surprise that most businesses are now doing their recruiting and hiring online. But while these processes are now taking place in a virtual space, most employers and HR departments are still following the same hiring procedures as much as possible, and that means they’re conducting remote job interviews.

Whether you’re a new college graduate looking to land your first big job or a seasoned vet in your industry hoping to secure a senior position, you’ll most likely need to stand out in a virtual interview. In this article, we’ll discuss what to expect from a remote interview and what you should do to ace it!

How Does a Virtual Interview Work?

Simply put, a virtual interview is a regular job interview conducted remotely, with no in-person contact, by leveraging video technology.

Traditionally, when hiring managers schedule face-to-face job interviews with candidates, they’ll tell you the time and place to meet and you’ll go to their offices for your interview. With virtual interviews, the hiring manager will tell you when to meet and what video software you’ll be utilizing (e.g. Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, etc.).

In general, you’ll need access to a computer with a built-in or external webcam and a working microphone. Also make sure you have a reliable internet connection.

While technology and physical distance change the dynamic between interviewer and candidate to a certain extent, virtual interviews tend to follow the same structure and style as an in-person interview. However, in order to ace your remote video interview, you’ll need to adapt to the medium and adjust your expectations, preparation, and strategy somewhat to accommodate the virtual setting.

How To Prepare for a Remote Interview

Here are a few things you should always do before any online job interview:

Make Sure Your Technology is Working

Test your internet connection, webcam, microphone, and ability to use the chosen video software on your computer prior to your interview. If possible, enlist the help of a friend or family member and have a chat with them using the same software (e.g. Zoom). Make sure they can see and hear you clearly and that you’re not breaking up. Give yourself plenty of time to troubleshoot any issues you run into.

Plan Out What You’ll Wear and Your Background

Just because your interview is remote doesn’t mean it’s casual. You should still put some thought into what you wear for an interview. Dress for the job you’re applying for, wear clothing that does not distract from your face and avoid bright colors and busy prints. Do your research on how formal the work attire is at the company you’re interviewing with and ensure you look professional in your style of dress and the backdrop you have behind you. Your background should be professional, eliminate clutter and personal items, keep your background neutral When in doubt, dress more formally than you think you need to, not less.

Eliminate Distractions

With virtual interviews, you’re most likely going to be at home while you’re meeting with the hiring manager and responding to their questions. It’s important that you’re able to focus completely on the interview. If you have children or other family members or roommates, make sure they’re out of the room and able to remain quiet during the duration of the interview. Turn off the TV, limit background noise, and make sure you’re able to focus on the person you’re speaking to.

Practice Your Answers

While you want to seem as natural and unrehearsed as possible in your virtual interview, it’s a good idea to practice some basic responses to traditional job-interview questions. The goal is to seem both natural and prepared.

Here are some of the most common interview questions you’ll want to practice answers to:

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Tell us about a time you experienced failure and what you have learned.
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • Tell us about a time when you had a conflict with your colleagues. How did you handle the situation?
  • Where do you see your career in the next 5 or 10 years?
  • Why should we hire you for this position?

In addition to preparing answers for these questions, make sure you have at least two or three good questions to ask your interviewer about the position or the company. This shows that you’re friendly, proactive, and genuinely interested in the job. Good questions to ask a hiring manager include “What do you like about working here?” and “What’s the biggest challenge I will face in this position?”

What to Do During Your Remote Interview

Here are a few things to remember during your virtual interview:

Keep it Professional

Traditionally, job interviews are conducted in office environments, where professionalism is the standard. In a virtual interview, you’ll be in a comfortable, familiar setting, but that doesn’t mean you should act any less professional. You want to project competence, respect, and confidence. Being friendly and warm is always a good thing yet maintain a demeanor of professionalism throughout your remote interview.

Use Notes (But Sparingly)

One advantage of virtual interviews is that you can use notes without your interviewer knowing. But it’s important to do this strategically, so it doesn’t look like you’re reading from a teleprompter. A good strategy is to simply write reminders for things to say, examples to use, or ideas to mention on post-it notes and post them behind your laptop so you can glance up at them if you need them.


Speak Slowly and Clearly

No matter how good your internet connection and microphone is, speaking through video software simply isn’t the same as speaking in person. It’s important to speak clearly, concisely, and purposefully in an interview, and especially a virtual one.

A common mistake job candidates make in interviews is speaking too quickly and trying to fill every small pause in the conversation. Take a breath or two before you answer each question. This indicates you’re thinking carefully about their question and your answer, which demonstrates thoughtfulness and thoroughness.

Be Aware of Body Language & Nonverbal Cues

Although you don’t have to worry about many of the common non-verbal tests in a job interview, like the strength of your handshake or whether you sit before or after your interviewer, body language and nonverbal communication still matter a lot! Sit up or stand up straight, smile, use small hand gestures to illustrate your points, and (importantly) keep your camera at or close to your eye-level to simulate a face-to-face conversation as much as possible.

Follow up Afterward

It’s always important to follow up with an email within 24 hours of your interview to thank the hiring manager for taking the time to speak with you and reiterate your interest in the position. Keep it concise, simple, and polite! Don’t forget to ask about the next steps and the timing for the next steps if that has not been discussed.

Professional Resume Development, Job-Search Strategy, & Interview-Skill Training

At Rush Recruiting & HR, we understand how businesses and hiring managers recruit, vet, and hire candidates. We’re in a unique position to help you find and land the right position for you in your career through strategic planning and careful execution.

We’re responding to the new challenges faced by employers, employees, and job seekers brought about by COVID-19. We can help you perfect your resume to succeed in this new remote environment and develop the skills you need to project competence and confidence in applications and interviews.

Contact us online or call us at (503) 481-1285 to get started!


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