Career Advice for Job Seekers

How to succeed in your first virtual interview

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels
Jessica Day
July 5, 2022


No matter how many you’ve done, interviews are always daunting. This can be particularly difficult with your first interview or if you’ve not had one in a while. Preparation is key to succeeding. Everyone has different strategies to get in the right frame of mind to come across confidently. However, in recent years, added challenges have been presented – many interviews have become virtual, taking place on video call software. 

86% of organizations are incorporating virtual technologies into their interviews, meaning interviewees should anticipate these being used. It has created new expectations of how interviews function and what interviewees need to be doing. Without the benefit of learning from experience, your first virtual interview can be tricky to navigate. This article will take you through how you should prepare for these and what you can do during the interview to succeed.

What is a virtual interview?

As video conferencing platforms have gained prominence in our work lives, the virtual interview concept has become more popular. Instead of requiring interviewees to journey to your head offices and meet with your hiring staff in person, virtual interviews allow interviewees to attend from remote locations using a video call link. This setup has advantages, encouraging more applications for job roles from those living further afield without commuting concerns.  

Virtual interviews can use the tools provided within the video call software. For example, screen sharing and presentation options can be used for interview tasks both by interviewees and the hiring team. Also, meeting recording options allow the hiring team to review the meeting afterward, comparing responses and interviewees. It’s also valuable to see interviewees interacting with virtual call center software, particularly when hiring for a remote job role.

How to prepare for your first virtual interview

Like other interviews, preparation is key to succeeding, ensuring you’re ready and confident. The interviewers may have read recruiting tips to prepare themselves for the best way to conduct an interview, just like you’re reading this guide to prepare yourself for the best way to succeed at an interview. However, how you prepare for a virtual interview may differ from in-person interviews as some elements are more important and others less so. Before your interview slot, make sure you’ve done the following things to come across as best you can.

Think about your space

After arriving at a virtual interview, the hiring team first notices your face and background. With some thought, it’s easy to ensure both you and your space look professional and clean. Check your lighting, so that the interviewers can easily see your face and you’re not covered by shadow. Clear your background as much as possible, creating a neutral space and being aware of what is behind you.  

Also, consider background noise and others walking through your space. When working alongside others, it can be challenging to minimize these. Nonetheless, using an audio headset can block out additional noise and keep your voice sounding clear when asking questions to the interviewer. If you can’t remove clutter or stop people walking through, use video call tools to blur the background or use a virtual background, allowing the focus to be on you. 

Check your equipment

Checking your equipment before you start shows organization and a proactive approach. If you’ve not used the video conferencing platform before, test it out first to get familiar with logging in and the controls. Ensure you have the right version installed and updated as well as source a stable internet connection for the whole interview. Technical issues can quickly bring an interview to an end, limiting the productivity of the meeting.

You should check your headset, microphone, and other hardware are also working well. Test to hear the audio quality so that your interviewers receive your voice clearly and you can hear them speaking too. Likewise, use a camera that presents a clear image. Although your laptop may have one built-in, if your interviewers can’t see you well, it will be harder to read visual cues and anticipate when you have something to say.

Do your research

Just as you would for an in-person interview, you should research the job and the company before the virtual interview. The interviewers are still going to ask questions and assess you based on the answers you give. Not knowing essential information will put you on the back foot and limit your success. Review the interview invitation and job description to highlight areas where additional research would be valuable.

Your research should also provide you with questions to ask your interviewers. It may be information about the job that they haven’t shared, such as questions about how they measure success in the role, such as using CSAT ratings and metrics, customer reviews, or looking at team achievements. Some of this information may be on the company website or in their communications with you, so remind yourself of this as you go into the interview.

Practice interviewing beforehand

Like most things, the more interviews you do, the better you get at them. Practicing virtual interviews before your first one can give you more confidence going into it and make you more familiar with the setting.  It allows you to improve your presentation and make your answers clear. Particularly with technical concepts, it can be helpful to practice wording your explanations and ideas of how to get started with affiliate marketing or use SEO in blog posts. 

Some job-seeking services and courses allow you to practice being interviewed by professionals on a video conferencing platform. These services have expertise in interviewing well and can provide other advice surrounding the job-seeking process. Even so, having a mock interview with a friend or someone you trust can also be valuable in suggesting other experiences you could mention and practicing answering interview questions. 

5 Virtual Interview Tips

Once in the virtual interview, what you do continues to determine your success. Many of the interview tips are similar to those for in-person interviews, however often how these are carried out differs. Keeping these in mind can help you present your best self, showing your ability to be a good employee and ace the interview.

Have notes ready

After doing your research, there may be key information or questions you want to remember to bring up in the interview. Keep these brief and have them with you from the beginning of the meeting. You should avoid relying too heavily on them, using them more as a prompt. These notes should remind you of experiences to reference or bullet point information specific to the role, like what is PySpark used for or the business’ strategy for content marketing. 

Arrive on time

Punctuality is essential in all interviews, even more so in virtual interviews where there is no excuse for lateness. This means getting yourself and your equipment ready early so that you’re already waiting to enter the meeting at the time of your interview. You need to anticipate the time it takes to set up and ensure update reminders won’t prevent you from entering the meeting, so don’t forget to include these in your timings. 

Show virtual etiquette

When meeting in a professional video call, following virtual etiquette shows respect to others and helps the meeting run smoothly. Stay on mute in a group if you’re not speaking and use the ‘raise hand’ functions. Maintain eye contact with your camera when explaining your ideas for content diversification or answering questions instead of looking at your video or notes. It comes across as alert, along with using visible hand gestures throughout the interview.  

Ask questions

A virtual interview is as much for you to learn about the business as for interviewers to learn about you. Show interest in the company and get to know more about them than the website shares. Asking questions can clarify what you’re doing in interview tasks, so you understand the purpose and respond appropriately. Finally, ask questions if you don’t know how to use certain features or their cloud-based phone system as it’s better to be open with the hiring team. 

Remember you’re online

There are crucial differences between in-person and virtual interviews. Remember to keep aware of these throughout the interview, whether that’s anticipating delayed speech or thinking about how you use gestures when speaking. It’s okay to acknowledge these differences with your interviewers, especially if you can’t hear or see them well. These are issues that can be addressed within the meeting to improve the interview for everyone involved. 

Are you ready for your virtual interview?

Hopefully, now you feel more ready to take on your first virtual interview. On the whole, virtual interviews and in-person interviews both serve the same purpose and tend to follow a similar structure. They aim to get to know the interviewees and assess their suitability for the job role, alongside looking for green flags in prospective employers. Success in virtual interviews is still about coming across confidently and showing your experience to the interviewers.

Nevertheless, keep in mind the key differences between virtual and in-person interviews. Things like checking your technology and maintaining eye contact through the camera can often be forgotten by interviewees, but they do impact how you come across to others on the call. With our tips in mind, your first virtual interview should be successful.  

Article by Jessica Day. Jessica is the Senior Director for Marketing Strategy at Dialpad, a modern small business phone systems that takes every kind of conversation to the next level—turning conversations into opportunities. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts, for both company and client campaigns. Jessica Day also published articles for domains such as Stefanini and Women Love Tech.

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