First impressions are daunting enough in real-life interactions, but when interviews go virtual, how do you leave a positive, long-lasting impression and get that job? When I first started my job hunt a couple of months back, this was the thought that kept running through my mind. I was nervous because an online interview meant I had a narrow slot of time to impress the interviewer. There was no time to warm up to each other as there usually would be if we walked through an office. in a virtual interview, we went straight into it. 

Now, having done my fair share of virtual interviews in the past months, I’ve gathered some tried-and-tested tricks to acing a virtual interview.

Ahead of the interview

1. Sketch a timeline of your professional experiences

A hiring manager or team member will always ask you to tell them about your previous experiences. What they’re looking for is a cohesive story. This timeline will be a handy visual reference for you to consult as you take your interviewer through your work experience so far.

2. Jot down some questions you have about the position or company

Often times, these will come up organically during your interview but it’s a good idea to have a few written down. It will show you as a person who takes the initiative to learn more about your prospective role and professional environment.

3. Test out your technical equipment

Make sure that your webcam and microphone are working so that they can properly see and hear you. Otherwise, they’ll miss out on the brilliant points you’re making. You look well-prepared and tech-savvy if you sort all of this beforehand.

4. Prepare a professional outfit

Just like you would for an in-person interview, you should dress formally for a virtual interview. Dressing professionally will also get you in the work-mindset and looking good will also boost your confidence! 

5. Choose your location wisely

Make sure you’re alone in a room where the door can be closed to limit distractions and interruptions. The background behind you can’t be too cluttered and be seated at a regular height to make it seem like you are sitting across from each other. Lighting is also really important. Ensure that isn’t too dark or bright. 

6. Turn off self-view

Sometimes, seeing yourself can make you obsessively adjust your hair or outfit which can come across as nerves and also be distracting. Most video-conference platforms allow you to do so in their settings.

During the virtual interview

1. Take your time introducing yourself

After sharing greetings, take as much time as you need to introduce yourself, within reason, of course. They are here to learn about you, so don’t feel rushed or feel that you have to save the best for last. 

2. Leave space for them to ask questions

It can get tricky to navigate a conversation online. While talking, be aware of the interviewer’s expression, do they seem like they want to ask a question or add a comment? If so, give them the space to do so. They’ll be thankful and appreciate how perceptive you are.  

3. Maintain eye contact

One of the most important (and easily achieved) points! This is usually a no-brainer but in virtual interviews, as you can imagine, it can be confusing. Looking at the center of your screen is always a good bet. Keep the window full screen to fend off distractions.

Don’t look around your screen, be clicking around, or typing as this makes you seem distracted and uninterested. If you want to take notes, use a notebook and let them know that you are paying attention but just jotting things down. If there are multiple interviewers, then make sure you address them all when you speak and pay attention to who is speaking. 

3. Be aware of your body language

Sit up straight and smile. Remember that’s the easiest way to show that you are paying attention (and can hear what is being said to you) is by nodding your head. Verbal signs of agreement or understanding can also put your interviewers at ease. 

4. Be yourself

What you have to your advantage is that you are in a familiar, comfortable space. That should put you at ease and remind you to be authentic. Let the conversation flow naturally, and don’t try to memorize “smart” things to say as it can feel inauthentic. You got this!

5. Remember that there are things that are out of your control

At the end of the day, if your internet lags or if something is not working right on their end, this does not reflect poorly on you. They’ll appreciate your patience and willingness to persevere regardless. 

After the virtual interview, don’t forget to follow up in the next few days to thank them for their time.

With these tricks up your sleeves, you are ready for any virtual interview scenario. Keep putting yourself out there and pretty soon you’ll find yourself exactly where you want to be.

  • Amal Als

    Amal Al Shamsi is a writer with a BA in Literature from New York University Abu Dhabi, interested in the study of marginality in modern and contemporary fiction. She is passionate about integrating other mediums into her writing, such as film, visual art, and music as she engages with the cultural dialogue around the world.