Eight Tips for Interviewing Online Successfully


Whether you’re looking for a remote position or a local position, companies often use online video or chat tools (virtual career fair technology, Google Meet, Zoom, Skype) to interview candidates. While many of the traditional interview suggestions apply, there are other things you should consider when preparing for an online meet-and-greet. Here are some suggestions:

Video or No Video? Ask your interviewer whether they will want you on video for the interview or whether they will require audio only. Some companies conduct all of their meetings with cameras on while others prefer audio-only. Knowing what the expectation is will help you prepare. If the interviewer wants to use video, double check that the background in your office or preferred location is professional. Is there dirty laundry on the floor? Is the plant in the corner dying? Make sure the area your camera captures is organized and clean, because the whole scene is a representation of you.

Get the Details. Check the interview invite. If there is no one else on the invitation, confirm that it’s just you and the interviewer. If there are others listed, ask if that’s the complete group and then research each individual (company website or LinkedIn are usually good places to look). You want to know whom you’re speaking with before you show up online. And just because there is only one other person on the invite, you never know when three executives will sit in a conference room with a single computer and camera. So, don’t be afraid to ask what the plan is, because it’s your interview, too.

Conduct a Technology Check. When you accept the calendar invite, check what meeting platform is used. It can be stressful when an interview is about to start and you realize you need to download new software. Even if you do have the software, make sure it’s up-to-date. Run an audio and video check, too. Don’t know where your headphones are? Find them now!

Speaking of Headphones. Use them if you have them. While some spaces are quiet enough, computer speakers often pick up ambient noise or have poor sound quality. It’s important for your interviewer to hear you well – and vice versa.

Be Prepared. Gather what you need ahead of time, like a glass of water and pen and paper for taking notes (typing on a keyboard is loud if you’re not on mute). And arrive early. You might end up sitting in an empty meeting room, but it gives you a chance to take a few deep breaths and focus.

Dress For Success … No Matter What. While it’s easy to wear a nice top with sweatpants for a video interview, there are a couple of reasons not to do it. First, you never know when you’re going to have to jump up (it happens) or turn your video on (if it’s initially audio only). Second, when you put on a professional outfit – from head to toe – you might sit a little straighter and feel a little better about yourself. That extra confidence can be just enough to edge out your competition.

Pay Attention to the Light. Fluorescent bulbs aren’t the only culprit. Sometimes the location, angle, and quantity matters just as much. Do you have natural light flooding your office? Make sure it lights your face and not just the back of your head. Set up a lamp or close the blinds if your location is too dark or too bright.

Turn Them All Off. By them, I mean distractions. So, turn off your phone, your email notifications, your Slack alerts, and your washing machine jingle. Put your dogs outside if they’re barkers (since you can’t turn them off). And put a note on your door so the delivery person doesn’t ring the bell. Although most organizations understand that chatting remotely results in some unexpected background noise, it’s most professional – and best for your concentration – to make your environment as quiet and distraction-free as possible … especially when you’re meeting someone for the first time.

The above tips are helpful to keep in mind if you’re attending the nationwide AfterCollege Diversity Virtual Career Fair, September 29-30. Register for FREE today!