Virtual Interview Tips & Best Practices

While remote work has changed a lot of long-held office etiquette — (t-shirts as work attire, children interrupting meetings) one thing that hasn’t changed is the preparation and focus required for job interviews, even those being held virtually. While some virtual interview advice may be obvious, there are other video interview tips you might not expect in the new world of remote work. 

Since many workers are job-searching or job-switching while working from home, we’ve rounded up the best video interview tips for job seekers. 

1. Research the company you’re interviewing with

Of course, this is standard practice for any interview, but you may want to dive a little deeper into how their company culture and policies may have changed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Have they switched to a remote-only workforce? Employed a hybrid office model? Knowing what to expect, including the possibility of virtual team-building activities if you join their team will help color your impression of the company. 

2. Dress up from head-to-toe

No, pants are not optional in this scenario. While there aren’t many conclusive studies proving this, it’s commonly held professional wisdom that you should dress up for phone and video interviews the same way you would an in-person interview. The reason for this is two-fold: first, the ritual of getting ready for a virtual interview as if it’s in-person will signal to your brain that you’re entering a formal setting, and your energy and behavior will adapt accordingly. Second, dressing up, all the way down to your shoes, helps you sit upright and seem more alert and engaged than if you were wearing sweatpants and socks.

If you take just one of these tips for video interviewing, this is one of the most important.

3. Take some time to clean up your background

We get it. Your apartment isn’t winning any home design awards. That doesn’t mean you can’t make some tweaks to your video background that will literally put you in the best light. Common distractions for recruiters include people entering or hanging out in the room behind you, pets walking across your keyboard, loud noises and messy rooms. You want whoever is interviewing you to be focused on you and your credibility, not your unmade bed or choice of movie posters on the wall. 

So, the big takeaway on this video interviewing tip? Lock your door, ask your family or roommates to be quiet during your interview, and clear any clutter behind you. 

4. Have an excuse, comment, or even a joke prepared if the unexpected happens

Of course, accidents happen and a recruiter will be more understanding if they see you can keep your cool. When your toddler barges into the room screaming, show the recruiter you can think on your feet and resolve the interruption swiftly without breaking a sweat, and they’ll remember how well you handle curveballs instead of the interruption itself. 

5. Log in early to do a test run

Audio and visual glitches happen but you can avoid big surprises by logging into the interview a little early and making sure your camera and video are functioning properly. Most video conferencing tools have built-in checks for you. If something technical has truly gone wrong on your end, you’ll have enough time to email the recruiter and suggest moving the virtual interview to the phone. 

Of course, the usual things you’d do before a job interview still apply: Do your homework on the company and the individuals who’ll be interviewing you, ask a friend, family member, or coach to give you a mock interview ahead of time, and come to the interview prepared with notes and questions. A little prep goes a long way, and lots of prep can be a recruiter’s deciding factor between you and someone else. 

FAQ’s

How do I best prepare for a virtual interview?

Aside from the standard points of preparation such as research and questions to ask the recruiting team, you also want to make sure you’re creating the best impression with your grooming, apparel, and video background. 

What background should I use in my virtual interview?

While virtual backgrounds are perfect for virtual team-building events, recruiters may find them distracting in a formal job interview. You may be tempted to block out your messy bedroom with a picture of the beach, but you’re better off taking time to clear the clutter rather than hide it behind a silly graphic. A plain, non-distracting, real-world background is your best bet.

Do I really have to put on shoes for my virtual job interview?

Yes. One of the best video interviewing tips we can give you is to prepare for a virtual interview the same way you would for an in-person, in-office interview. Brush your teeth and your hair, put on your formal interview outfit, and don’t forget the shoes. Dressing the part helps get your brain and body language in the zone for making the best first impression. 


Read more about the remote working world in our team building blogs including tips for remote HR roles, financial wellness tips, and our many webinars for valuable insights on how to build your virtual teams!

Anna Webber

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