How to Ace Your Virtual Interview

The job-seeking process is stressful. It seems like days full of countless applications with little response from employers. So when you do finally hear back, its great news! But it also means it’s time to start preparing.

Find the perfect location

A conventional interview would likely be on-site. However, virtual interviews are different. It’s up to you to decide the best place to take the call. That means you should be intentional about your location.

A home office is a perfect place to take a virtual interview. It’ll provide you with all the necessary privacy and equipment you need to succeed. If you don’t have a home office, no problem. Find a private space and make sure no one can interrupt you.

Avoid distractions

There’s a reason you want to minimize interruptions: to avoid distractions. The last thing you want is your interviewer focused on what is going on around you. Distractions include but are not limited to, crying babies, ringing phones, pizza delivery, the oven preheating sound, basically, the intricacies of life are all distractions.

As we all know, life happens. Try as you may, your location might not be distraction-free. That is why a green screen can make a huge difference. With a green screen behind you, you can eliminate background intrusions. You can remove the sight of your husband walking to the kitchen. Or hide your children’s scattered toys throughout your house. None of that is relevant to the interviewer, and with a green screen, you can have that stay private.

Choosing your background for a virtual interview

If you are using a green screen, there are a few key points to consider when selecting your virtual backdrop. We’d previously talked about how to find a perfect image for a video conference background. The concept for an interview is basically the same, except take out all creativity.

As I mentioned, you want the interviewer to focus on you and your qualifications. To help with that, I recommend a solid color video background. Avoid black or white. My personal favorite is using a light blue background. Below is the actual image I use as a green screen background during my zoom calls. (Feel free to save onto your desktop and use it as well!)

A light blue background
A light blue virtual background you can use.

Check your technology

You’ll certainly want to do a test run before your interview. This test run helps you check that all your equipment works as it should. What type of equipment am I talking about?

For a video interview, I recommend having:

  1. A microphone – most conferencing software has an audio test option. It will playback your audio so you can watch for clarity and volume.
  2. A camera – the same goes for a video test option. Most conferencing software has the option to test your video feed before the start of the call.
  3. A green screen – as I mentioned above, a green screen can help you eliminate the unavoidable distractions.

Research and Prepare

Whether your interview is online or in-person, you should make sure you are putting your best foot forward. It’s recommended you review the experience and skills needed to be successful in your role, familiarize yourself with any recent news or developments about your employer, learn more about your interviewer, and review the employer’s website.

Experience and skills to be successful

The best place to start is to look at the job posting itself. Take for example a snippet from a sample Sales Representative Role job posting.

Sales Representative Job Responsibilities:

  • Serves customers by selling products and meeting customer needs.
  • Services existing accounts, obtains orders, and establishes new accounts by planning and organizing a daily work schedule to call on existing or potential sales outlets and other trade factors.
  • Focuses sales efforts by studying existing and potential volume of dealers.

Each responsibility lays out your future employer’s expectation of you. To prepare, go through each line item and identify a professional or personal experience that applies to the situation. For example, if the job responsibility is selling products, prepare a statement about your experience at the local shoe store and how it relates to the new role.

For some responsibilities, you may need to be creative. Creativity in job interviews is assuredly encouraged. If you have no experience selling but have experience buying products, outline that connection. The main thing is to stay truthful! Come up with creative links between your experience and the role but never lie.

Recent news and developments

Interviews are not just questions and answers. There’s a significant element that depends on organic conversation. One of the best ways to prepare for this type of small talk is by familiarizing yourself with any news surrounding your possible new employer. That way, if there’s ever an awkward pause, you can fill it with inside knowledge.

My preferred method of searching for news is using Google News. If you’ve never used Google News, it’s pretty easy to use. Just google your prospective employer, use quotation marks to guarantee word match, and voila! You’ll now see recent news mentions of your search.

Get to know your interviewer

Learning about your interviewer should be a quick process. I don’t encourage spending too much time on this. A quick search of your interviewer’s name can help you get a better understanding of their interests and professional focus. I recommend LinkedIn, it’s the best place to find information that’s relevant to the interview. Just don’t be creepy and accidentally like an Instagram post they made three years ago.

Review the company’s website

Lastly, as part of your research, you should review the company’s website. You can learn a lot about a company based on what they share publicly. This step is critical for acing the interview. It’s also a good way for you to know whether the company is a good match for you.

A company’s about page is a great place to start. Nevertheless, don’t stress if you’re interviewing for a company without a big online presence. Instead, use that as an opportunity to ask about that decision during your virtual interview.

Make a great impression

Following the above advice can help you succeed. Now that you’ve prepared, researched, and tested your equipment, you’re ready to make a great first impression. Take a deep breath and be confident, you’ll do great!


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