How to Ace a Virtual Interview

Virtual interviews became a common practice over the past year, and it looks like this trend won’t be going away any time soon. To increase your chances of being successful in a virtual interview, follow these eight guidelines. 

Update Contact Information 
Prior to submitting your resume, make sure first and foremost that the contact information you include on it is up to date, because an organization will need to contact candidates to set up interviews. Typically, a company will email you with instructions on how the interview will be conducted because the process varies from company to company. 
 
Test Technology Beforehand 
If you’re able, log into the platform before your scheduled interview to test your audio, webcam, and internet connection. If possible, use your laptop to conduct the interview rather than your phone. If you have a poor internet connection or dead spots, move to a location in your home where the connection is strongest. Make sure your audio is clear and at an easy-to-hear level, and if you have any issues, consider using headphones. Finally, make sure your webcam video is clear. If you don’t have a webcam built into your computer, consider borrowing one or purchasing one. 
 
Find Good Lighting 
Good lighting and angles are vital components of a good virtual interview. After all, the interviewer needs to be able to see you clearly! Before the interview, choose an area of your home that is well-lit and has a tidy background; if you’re interviewing over Zoom, you can always use a professional virtual background. Then, check your angles in the webcam as you want to be in the middle of the frame. Finally, be sure not to zoom the camera too close, because you want to fit within the frame. 
 
Dress Professionally 
Although your interview is virtual, it does not mean it’s casual. Be sure to dress the same as you would for a face-to-face interview. Consider wearing solid colors, a suit jacket, blouse, or dress, and keep your jewelry simple. And as tempting as it may be to only dress professionally from the waist up, be sure to look your best from head to toe just in case you need to stand up during the interview. 
 
Prepare in Advance 
Before your interview, set time aside to research the company’s mission and what skills and credentials you’ll need to highlight during the interview. Read reviews from employees about the company to gain an understanding of the company culture. Print out your resume to refer to past positions and write down questions for the interviewer. Preparing questions in advance will show you’re interested in the role and have done your homework. Some example questions include, “What is a typical day on the job,” “What skills does your ideal candidate possess,” and “What issues are you currently facing and how will this role address those issues?” 
 
Use Professional Body Language 
During your virtual interview, sit up straight and try to keep gesturing to a minimum. Lean in a bit to the camera and maintain good eye contact—which in this case means looking at the camera. Keep your arms uncrossed, nod when necessary, and smile genuinely. If you are participating in a panel interview, consider addressing each person directly. 
 
Build Rapport 
Create a connection with your interviewer by following their lead throughout the interview. If they prefer concise answers, adjust your answers accordingly. If they start with casual questions, take that time to build a connection and show a bit of your personality. Be sure to answer all questions asked and ask a few questions of your own in return. 
 
Send a Follow Up Email 
Remember to send a thank you email to your interviewer or to the hiring manager, recruiter, or HR team after your interview. Try to add something you specifically discussed in your interview to show that you are invested in this opportunity. If you interviewed with a panel, consider sending a separate email to each panelist. Finally, this is an opportunity to include your LinkedIn profile so that they can reference it as they make their final decision. 
 
For additional information on this topic, check out the recent webinar How to Ace a Virtual Interview.  If you need interviewing assistance, check out the career services interviewing tools, Elevator Pitch and Interview Stream 

Isa’ Martinez is a Career Advising Specialist in the Office of Career Services and Alumni Relations at the University of Maryland Global Campus. She has over six years of experience in Higher Education in a student support capacity.  She has a Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology from Bowie State University, where she practiced counseling for a year and discovered her passion for career counseling. Isa’ is committed to putting students first, educating students on career services and believes in the power of an education.