Regardless of the position you apply for, a job interview is often accompanied by a fair amount of stress. Adjusting your schedule, finding the exact office location, the waiting, and being in an unfamiliar environment can add even more pressure. On the other hand, virtual interviews almost entirely eliminate the grounds for these concerns.
If you’ve been looking for a job recently, you’ve probably been invited to such an interview. This type of meeting had started gaining popularity, but the pandemic certainly accelerated the process. Technological advancements now allow this to happen relatively seamlessly, so we can say that this trend will continue in the future. From this perspective, it’s a good idea to discuss the preparation for this type of interview to ensure your good experience next time.
Set up your environment
Where to position yourself is perhaps the most challenging thing. Choose a place where you can control your surroundings. Opt for a simple background without unnecessary details. If possible, conduct the interview at home or in another location with a good internet connection. Avoid places like cafes, public areas, or a car, as they carry the risk of unexpected noises or interference that might distract you. Unless you have no other option, choose a quiet place. If due to circumstances beyond your control you still need to hold the meeting in such conditions, it’s best to inform in advance.
Ideally, natural light is a good choice. If you’re in a room with artificial lighting, it’s better for the light source to be in front of you rather than behind you, but be cautious about glare from glasses, watches, or jewelry.
Camera and microphone position
The camera on your laptop/computer should be positioned at eye level. If you need to use a phone (not recommended), prop it up on something stable to avoid it falling or constantly moving. If you have more than one monitor, place the one with the camera in front of you so you don’t have to twist your body or give the impression that you’re not looking at the interviewer.
If possible, use headphones that will isolate echo, and if they have a built-in microphone, you’ll ensure better sound quality. In this case, make sure the microphone isn’t rubbing against clothing or jewellery that might create unpleasant noise.
Bonus: Place the video window as close to the camera as possible to simulate eye contact.
Clear your desk of anything that wouldn’t be there if you were meeting in person. Leave only a glass of water, a copy of your CV, and a notebook for taking notes. It’s best to keep your phone away from you.
If possible, rehearse the scene with a friend. The idea of this exercise is to test the sound, video, internet connection, using the same software, of course. Make sure the other side can hear you well and there are no additional filters or frames that might distract you or your interlocutor. Ask for feedback on how your gestures and body language look, as well as whether your clothing is suitable.
When it comes to clothing – dress professionally from head to toe – you’ll feel more adequate if you’re not in pajama bottoms. Also, avoid jewelry that makes a lot of noise or is visually distracting.
Sit at a distance as you would if you were in an office for an in-person meeting. Don’t sit too close to the screen – ideally, your head and shoulders should be in the frame. Best practice shows that it’s appropriate to leave 10-20% of the screen above your head empty. This way, you won’t partially exit the frame if you sit up straight or gesture.
Regardless of the fact that you are being interviewed from the comfort of your own home, you should approach the virtual interview with the same seriousness and preparation as a standard interview.