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Four Tips for a Virtual Interview

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Remote hiring is the new normal, and it looks like virtual interviews are here to stay. The obvious advantages are not having to worry about being late, being able to reference notes, and having access to broader opportunities as you’re no longer restricted by location.

Of course, there are also disadvantages – some of which are the fact that it’s difficult to get a sense of the company’s culture when you aren’t visiting in person, and your competitors have equal access to the same opportunities that you’re pursuing. 

So, what can you do to stand out in a virtual interview? That’s exactly what Ben Laker, Will Godley, Selin Kudret, and Rita Trehan at Harvard Business Review set out to discover by watching hundreds of recordings of virtual interviews from around the world from 2020. In their article, they outlined these four pro tips to turn your next virtual interview into a job offer.

Organize Your Space

You must control the illusion you portray of yourself in a virtual interview. It’s important to choose a professional look and remain formal, despite the fact that you aren’t physically in the interviewer’s presence. Use your space to create a lasting impression.

Your background matters, so be sure that it is clean and uncluttered. Otherwise, the focus will be taken away from you. Double check the light source to ensure that the interviewer can see you with the best possible lighting. And always, always check your internet speed beforehand. This is the biggest potential issue during a virtual interview because no connection = no communication. 88% of recruiters said that their number one pet peeve during an interview is an internet lag, as it breaks the flow of the conversation.

Prepare for the Unexpected

When you’re relying on a computer or an internet application, anything can happen. Spend time before your interview getting to know the platform it will be conducted on. If you aren’t already familiar with it, practice the features and do a mock call with a friend to make sure you know exactly how to use it.

Another useful practice is to have a small page of notes nearby during your interview. Though you must be careful not to be too obvious when you look at it, it is a great way to remind yourself to bring up your most impressive points. And don’t hesitate to ask for more time to gather your response to a question. 


Interviewing virtually makes it more difficult to pick up on facial cues and body language. As a result, you must actively make the effort to use hand gestures while speaking and monitor your speaking speed. Obviously you don’t want to speak so slowly that your interviewer falls asleep, but you also don’t want to talk so fast that they can’t keep up or follow what you’re saying. Research indicates that speaking at 115 words per minute is ideal.

Whether you’re in person or on a video chat, eye contact is the first step to building trust with your interviewer. Frame yourself within two feet of your camera and make sure your head and shoulders dominate the screen. And, I can’t stress this enough, look into the camera when you speak, not at your own reflection.

Spark a Dialogue

Don’t fall into the trap of monotonous video calls. Keep the conversation lively by asking your interviewer engaging questions. Inquire about the company’s culture and workspace, find common interests by asking about his/her hobbies, and ask about the kind of technology you’d be using in the position and the team you’d be working with. The interviewer will appreciate your curiosity, and by asking questions, your personality will show.

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