10 Steps to Prepare for a Virtual Interview

Posted on November 15, 2021

Have you recently applied to a new job and been contacted to participate in a virtual interview? Are you considering applying for a job where a virtual interview will be required? Not surprisingly, this type of interview has become more and more common over the last several years. For instance, one 2015 survey found that 75% of companies used real-time video platforms to interview leading candidates, and 50% use video conferencing sessions when narrowing their candidate pool. These numbers have continued to rise since the start of the pandemic in 2020 as more and more positions have moved to “work-from-home.”

If you have a virtual interview coming up on your schedule, how can you effectively prepare for it? This article will discuss 10 steps you can take to give yourself the best chance of being hired.

1. Make Sure Your “Virtual Identity” Is Professional

Instead of going by first and last names, modern recruiters are often introduced to a candidate by means of usernames and email addresses. With that in mind, you want to make sure that the “virtual identity” you’re giving out to prospective employers won’t send up red flags at the outset of the hiring process. For instance, the goofy email address you created in high school may not be the most effective.

In addition, be mindful of what you post to your social media accounts. A whopping 70% of employers use social media to screen job applicants; so if your Facebook profile will cast you in a bad light, it’s time to make a change.

2. Test Your Technology Beforehand

Whether you’re using Zoom, Google Meet, FaceTime, or another video conferencing platform for your interview, make sure your technology is working properly in advance of the actual appointment. For instance, you should:

  • Check your internet connection and speed
  • Verify that your camera and microphone are working
  • Set up your system for the best possible sound and picture quality

Checking your equipment ahead of time will spare you the struggle of dropping the video call, or losing your connection at a critical moment. Moreover, your preparedness in this regard may impress your interviewer. Interestingly, one recent study found that technical savvy is one of the top 10 attributes employers are looking for in job candidates today.

3. Identify a Quiet Location

When preparing for a virtual interview at home, consider where you can take the call without interruptions. Some good options include home offices or any other room where you can close the door to create a quiet environment. Also, consider using headphones, which can help reduce background noise and make sure the interviewer can hear everything you’re saying (and vice versa).

4. Be Positive

It’s incredibly important to remember to be positive during the interview. This will make the interview better for both you and the interviewer. If you come across as angry or negative, it might also deter them from recommending you for the position. This is especially true when talking about your former employers. Answer any questions about your previous working experience in a graceful manner and with positivity.

5. Come Prepared to Answer Questions

While you may have the entire internet at your fingertips when participating in a virtual interview, the recruiter will be able to tell whether you’re really prepared for a question or are desperately fumbling around for an answer. With that in mind, come to the interview prepared to answer some common questions that hiring managers ask. Research the specific company and position involved to adapt your answers to the employer’s needs. Take down some notes for easy reference, and make sure that your resume is near at hand.

Some common interview questions that you should anticipate include the following:

  • Why do you want this job?
  • What are you looking for in a new position?
  • What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?
  • Tell me about your biggest professional achievement. 
  • Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a coworker. How did you resolve it?
  • What are your goals for the next 5 years?

When it comes to behavioral or situational questions (e.g., “tell me about a time…”), remember to frame your answer within the STAR methodology. In other words, discuss the Situation you faced, the Task you had to perform, the Action you took, and the Result of that action. This simple outline can help you to answer questions clearly and logically.

6. Come Prepared to Ask Questions

In addition to providing answers, be prepared to ask some questions of your own during the course of the interview. Doing so will demonstrate that you’re serious about the position and want to make your time with the company, if hired, a success. Some questions you can ask include:

  • What are you looking for in a candidate for this position?
  • Could you describe what a typical day in this role looks like?
  • What are the company’s goals, and how does this position fit into those objectives?
  • What are the next steps of the hiring process?
7. Form a Connection

Building rapport with your interviewer is an important step towards differentiating yourself from other applicants. Even though it may be harder for your interviewer to detect your enthusiasm for the position or your confidence in yourself over a video conferencing platform, there are still several things you can do to form a personal connection with him or her during the course of the interview.

For example, always ask how the interviewer’s day has been. Inquire as to their experience when handling virtual interviews, and what they’ve learned so far. Be prepared to talk about a variety of neutral topics. Remember, your interviewer may be as nervous as you are, so strive to put him or her at ease.

8. Show You Care

While your qualifications, skills, and experience all play a major role in job interviews, one of the most important things you should remember to do is show that you care about the work you are pursuing. Being passionate about the job you’re applying for shows the interviewer that you mean business and you will do your very best if hired. It also shows a willingness to learn and improve, even if you don’t already possess all of the necessary skills.

9. Be Authentic

At the end of the day, you want the employer to hire you for who you are—which means you need to be authentic during the interview, while putting your best foot forward. Don’t try to put on a mask or show the interviewer what you think they want to see. Instead, highlight the best parts of your personality organically and in a relaxed manner.

10. Follow Up Promptly

After your interview, be prepared to send a follow-up message thanking the interviewer for their time. Also, let them know you’re available for any further questions they have. It’s good practice to send this email out within 24 hours of the interview’s completion.

Now that you have these 10 helpful suggestions in your “interview arsenal,” you’re ready to start making great first impressions, and ultimately land your dream job! We even hope it’s with us at Penn-Mar Human Services!

At Penn-Mar, our mission is to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) to live courageous lives full of self-determination, independence, and equity. Our approach is innovative, person-centered, and successful. Through meaningful employment, community inclusion, and residential choice, the people Penn-Mar supports are empowered to live their best lives. If you’re interested in a human resources career and want to make a difference in the lives of others, consider filling out an application to join our team! You can also get involved by learning more about our services, making a donation, or signing up to volunteer with us today!