15 Top Tips for Virtual Interviews

At some point in your career, you’ll likely have a virtual interview.

It used to be that if you were going for an interview, you knew you were going to someone’s office, sometimes in other city or state. But as the technology has evolved, virtual interviews over mediums like Skype, Zoom, and WebEx are becoming increasingly popular. That’s why it’s pretty likely that you’ll have a virtual interview at some point in your job search, and we at AgGrad want you to be prepared. So, for a quick guide to nailing your virtual interview, check out our 15 top tips

1. Know the Details

No matter what type of interview you’re having, we can’t stress this enough. But in the case of a virtual interview, it’s even more important. Make sure you know the interviewer’s number and who’s calling who. If you’re using a live group chat platform like Skype or Zoom, confirm the login everyone will be using. 

2. Who’s There?

Sometimes, you’ll be interviewed by more than one person and when this is the case, it helps to know the names and titles of everyone who will be present. Because each person may fulfill a different role in the company, it’s a good idea to learn a little bit about what he or she does so you can bring that up in conversation. And if you have any skills or experiences that would especially resonate with one interviewer, it’s a good idea to bring that up too.

3. What’s Happening?

It pays to know beforehand if this will be a voice or video call. Either are possible with any of the previously mentioned platforms, but it’s important to know which one it will be. You know, to avoid unexpectedly giving an interview in your pajamas.

4. Testing, Testing…

If at all possible, do a run-through beforehand. While you might not be able to do this in cases involving company or password-protected software, you can definitely do a sample call or Skype chat with a friend or family member. This can be helpful for making sure that you can see and hear each other well, that the connection isn’t fuzzy, and that you’re not encountering unexpected tech issues on the day of your interview.

5. Position is Key

Seriously. You might not have thought about camera angle for a video call, but this can actually be really important. That’s why you should always make sure you are positioned above the bottom one third of the screen. You don’t want them to only see you from the chin up, and the rest of their shot be your ceiling! 

6. Lights, Camera… 

Make sure you pay attention to lighting as well, since poor lighting can make things awkward on a video call. And it’s a shame to waste that nice interview outfit when they can’t even see it! Ideally, you want the lighting to be illuminating the front of you or from the side. You DO NOT want the lighting coming from behind you. You will look like an eclipse if you’re in front of a window on a sunny day. No bueno.

7. Sound is Everything

As you might imagine, it’s vitally important that your interviewers be able to hear you clearly. While this is true in any type of interview, it’s especially crucial for virtual ones where you’re relying primarily on sound.  If you’re using your built-in speakers and microphone, make sure that you test these settings ahead of time. (Maybe during the practice run with a friend). Headphones or earbuds are almost a safe bet for eliminating outside interference.

8. Check your Background

If you’re giving the interview from home, make sure the surrounding area is clean, professional, and free from visual distractions. You don’t want to ruin your professional appearance with last week’s pile of dirty laundry on your bed. 

9. Dress Like it’s an In-Person Interview

This probably goes without saying, but we’re going to say it anyway. If your interviewers can still see you, it doesn’t matter if you’re doing the interview from home. Professional dress is still necessary for making a positive first impression, and you want to do that no matter how you’re meeting your interviewers. So, put that new suit on, and wear it with pride!

10. Eliminate Distractions

You know those YouTube videos of people giving interviews with their dog laying on their laptop? Or their cat standing on their head? It’s funny… until it happens to you. Eliminating distractions is part of creating a professional environment and hearing the interviewer clearly, so it’s not enough to just shove distractions in the other room. You’ll also want to watch out for background noise like screaming kids, pets, or the construction going on at your neighbor’s. Any of these things can interfere with the sound quality—and professionalism—of your interview, so if you’re giving an interview from home or at a coffee shop, identify and eliminate as many distractions as possible.

11. No Phone Zone

This obviously goes for face-to-face interviews as well, but you should always set your phone to DO NOT DISTURB. Many an interview has been blown over a candidate checking messages, taking calls, or being otherwise distracted by their phone in an interview. You don’t want that to be you!

12. Get Good Wifi

This might be hard depending on where you live, but seriously, do everything in your power to ensure you have a strong internet connection for your virtual interview. If it’s difficult to get a good signal in your home, you may want to consider a library or coffee shop with stronger wifi just to avoid the awkwardness of losing your interviewer mid-way through a call.

13. Arrive Early

Just like face-to-face interviews, punctuality is key, especially in situations like a live Zoom or Web-Ex meeting. Logging in and being prepared 3-5 minutes early will give you time to take stock of any technical difficulties and address them before they can hurt you. It’ll also have the same professional appearance as showing up early for a physical interview.

14. …Unless it’s a Phone Call

In cases where your interview is being conducted through a Skype meeting or phone call where the session begins as soon as the phone starts ringing, then definitely don’t call 3-5 minutes early. Instead, if you’re responsible for contacting the interviewer directly, be ready and waiting 5 minutes beforehand, and call right at the scheduled time. Don’t be early or late, just right on time.

15. Get your Small-Talk On

If you’ve prepared answers for every interview question possible, you might be knocked off guard a bit when the interviewer starts with small-talk. (Let’s just get it over with already!) But this is totally normal, and you’d commonly get a few minutes of chit-chat in a face-to-face interview, too. So, don’t be taken by surprise, and don’t let it throw you. Just take a deep breath and talk to the interviewer like you would any other person. This can actually be great for helping you establish a connection



Tim Hammerich

Tim is a strategic communications consultant, founder of AgGrad, and the host of the "Future of Agriculture" podcast. Originally from California, he is now based out of Boise, Idaho.