How to Prepare for a Virtual Interview

Career Blog
Woman waving to someone on her computer

Published: April 20, 2023 by Hannah Nguyen

Even in organizations where most work is completed in-person, it is becoming more common to conduct interviews virtually. This especially applies to the first round of interviews, sometimes referred to as the “semi-finals.” In fact, according to a recent Indeed survey, 82% of employers are currently using virtual interviews. This format eliminates some of the stress of driving and locating parking at an unfamiliar location, but it comes with its own set of issues to consider. Although virtual interviews may feel less intimidating, they are often more competitive because they take less time and can be offered to more candidates. Here are some practical tips to help you prepare for your next virtual interview.

Test Your Technology

It is important to always test your technology ahead of the interview to make sure that your camera and microphone are working properly. Everyone has had the occasional mishap with their sound settings but be sure to work out any problems far ahead of your interview. You may need to run a software update (if so, give your computer plenty of time to process, at least 10 hours), or switch your default microphone. If a serious problem occurs, you may even need time to borrow or purchase new equipment.

Presentation Matters

It is likely obvious to you that you should dress professionally for a virtual interview, but you should also test how you and your environment look on camera. Is it too dark in the room you’re using? Maybe you should move some lamps closer, or interview near a window so that it will be easier to see you. Is the area behind you tidy and free of any distractions? You should take a look at what your camera captures ahead of time so you know what you are presenting. Often programs like Zoom open using the last username and virtual background you were using, and you should make sure both are professional. If you share your computer with another family member, you may enter your interview with someone else’s screenname and cause some confusion. 

Take Advantage of the Benefits

There are definitely advantages to virtual interviews beyond saving you gas money. You are completely in charge of your environment so you can choose a location you feel comfortable in. You can spend the time you would have spent in the waiting area doing something to help you relax such as breathing exercises or listening to music. It can be easy to forget everyone’s name in a panel interview due to distractions and stress. In a virtual interview, all the participants will have their names next to their faces making it easier to address everyone personally. In the event that you want to share a document or portfolio, it is very simple to share your screen and allow everyone involved to have a great view.

Be Engaged

Although virtual interviews can feel pretty different than an in-person meeting, try to remember to be friendly and personable. The interviewer is interested in your skills and experience, but they are also trying to see if you will be a good personality fit. Small talk can help you build rapport with the interviewer and highlight your interpersonal skills. If you make a mistake or misspeak, just correct yourself and move on! Everyone makes mistakes, and it is more important to show that you don’t sweat the small stuff.

Additional Resources

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Here are a few job opportunities that might be of interest!

Remember that internships can be an especially valuable part of your learning experience at the iSchool while also helping you when it comes time to look for jobs. Learn more about the iSchool’s internship program here, where you can check out the INFO 294 Student Handbook as well as the Internship Sites database.


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