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Tori "Code Mom" Brenneison
Tori "Code Mom" Brenneison

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Ace Your Virtual Interview: Best Practices for Remote Conversations

Virtual interviews have become increasingly popular in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially with the rise in remote and work-from-home jobs.  Remote interviews are especially popular for HR screenings and behavioral interviews, making it essential for modern job seekers to adapt their interview skills to the virtual landscape.  Here are some tips and strategies to help you ace a virtual interview:

Prepare Your Technical Setup

Before the interview, make sure that you have a stable internet connection and that the computer or phone you’ll be using for the interview can run the video conferencing software being used for the interview. Popular software for remote interviews include Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams. Check that your webcam angle, lighting, and background give a professional impression and that your video does not appear too dark or too light.

When setting up the interview, arrange with your interviewer or HR contact to have a backup plan in case of any technical difficulties, such as having a contact number to call in order to continue the interview via phone if necessary.

Dress Professionally

Even though you may be interviewing from the comfort of your home, and will only appear on the video feed from the shoulders up, you should dress as you would for an in-person interview.  Dressing professionally will help you feel more confident and prepared during the interview.

Pay attention to your clothing choices from head to toe, and resist the urge to wear sweatpants with a dress shirt!  You never know when you may need to stand up or move during the interview, and if you’re not prepared to stand up suddenly, it will definitely happen. 

Choose a Suitable Location

Select a private, quiet, and well-lit area for your virtual interview, where you won't be disturbed by pets, roommates, or family members. Let your roommates and family know that you’ll be interviewing remotely, and ask them not to disturb you during the interview time.  Avoid any loud background noises that can be picked up by your computer’s microphone, such as cleaning appliances, landscaping equipment, barking dogs and TVs. If you can't find a suitable location, try a professional-looking virtual background or a blurring filter.  

Practice Non-Verbal Communication

Non-verbal cues play a big role in virtual interviews. It is important to make good “eye contact” with your interviewer by looking directly at the camera, rather than at the interviewer's video feed. Sit up straight, maintain good posture, and use natural hand gestures, making sure that your hands appear on camera. Be sure to smile and nod to express engagement and interest in the conversation during the interview, but don’t force or exaggerate your facial expressions just because the interview is being conducted virtually. 

Avoid fidgeting or looking away from the camera, as it may come across as disinterest or lack of confidence.  If you are prone to moving around in your chair, make sure that you do not have a spinning office chair or chair that rocks–you may not even notice how much you are moving, and the movement can be very distracting for your interviewer. 

Minimize Distractions

Turn off or shut down all other applications, notifications, and sounds on your computer or phone before the interview.  Close all irrelevant tabs and programs, and avoid multitasking during the conversation. You need to give the interviewer your undivided attention in order to show respect for their time and effort in conducting the interview. 

Remove anything that may distract you from your field of vision so that you can focus on the interview, including your mobile phone, pets, paperwork, and hobby items–anything that could remove your focus from the interviewer. 

Prepare Relevant Materials

Keep any materials you may need during the interview–such as your resume, cover letter, reference material and paper to take notes–easily accessible, but out of view of the camera.  Put the files for your resume and cover letter on your computer desktop or another easily accessible location, in case your interview asks for you to send them via email or through the conferencing platform during the interview. 

Although it is tempting to refer to any notes you have for STAR responses and technical interview questions during the interview, be aware of any time you are looking away from the camera.  If the interview suspects that you are reading directly from notes or prepared answers, they will be less likely to move you forward in the hiring process.  If you look away from the camera to take notes, let your interviewer know that is what you are doing. 

In Conclusion...

A virtual interview can be a nerve-wracking experience, but with proper preparation, you can ace it!  Remember to test your equipment, dress professionally, choose a quiet and private space, be mindful of your body language, and have a backup plan in case the conferencing software fails. With these tips, you can ensure that you are well-prepared, professional, and engaging during your remote interview.  Good luck!

This article was originally published at, and is preliminary material from a book tentatively titled “HIRE ME: A Workbook for Getting to Work”, by Tori Brenneison.

Top comments (1)

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Adam Sawicki

Thanks for this nice article! I learned some new things from it.