Virtual interviews transformed the interaction between the candidates and the recruiters radically so much so that the knowledge of virtual interview best practices is indispensable for every professional. Most of us can remember the days when candidates used to travel to the company location to attend the interviews in person, and companies mentioning the reimbursement of travel charges for candidates. But, if we share such good old stories with our next generation, no wonder they will be astonished owing to the changes that are swiftly happening all around us! 

That said, virtual interviews are a lot different from in-person interviews. The lack of physical interaction and other essential elements that help estimate a candidates’ fitness for the given role is what makes the key difference. Either we put it on COVID-19 or the rapid penetration of the virtual interview software, no doubt that virtual interviews are now part and parcel for every business and professional. As you move ahead in this virtual interview guide, you will understand the virtual interview best practices, how to succeed in a virtual interview, and how to prepare for a virtual interview.


What is a virtual interview?

A virtual interview is an interview where an interaction between the recruiter and the candidate happens either by telephone or video conferencing software. Pre-COVID-19, virtual interviews were mostly happening over phones, in most cases at least for the preliminary rounds. The changes the COVID-19 introduced fast-forwarded the whole world and virtual interviews were not an exception. Now, virtual interviews are synonymous with video interviews with recruiter and candidates in different locations and connecting via video conferencing software.

How does a virtual interview take place?

In the first place, a virtual interview is similar to a face to face interview in many aspects, except that it is happening at your place and the recruiter is talking to you through a screen. 

Virtual interviews happen through special software that enables video interaction between two parties. Skype, Zoom and Google Hangouts are the most heard names and preferred choices for virtual interviews. Additionally, the virtual hiring software market is growing like never before with the inclusion of virtual interview software tools rapidly. 

Also Read: Recruitment trends 2021

Is virtual interviewing the future of recruiting?

While the choice of interviewing depends on the personal preferences of the organizations, and inarguably personal interviews do possess their charm, it may also not be wrong to believe that virtual interviewing may be the future of recruiting. 

With such statistics and findings, it is obvious that virtual interviews are in no way disappearing sooner or later.

Virtual interviewing: Benefits and challenges to companies

Companies are in immense benefit due to the virtual interviewing methods. While initially adopted to meet the social distancing norms and the deadlines of hiring, virtual recruiting is promising more benefits to companies than anticipated. 

Besides offering the ability to find talent from varied geography with minimal costs, virtual interviewing is adding to the convenience of recruiters. Through virtual interviewing, recruiters are able to interview more candidates than they could otherwise. The resulting cost and time-saving benefits to the HR teams as well as the organizations are tremendous.  

According to Modern Hire, the response from the candidates seems faster when they receive a text message for attending a virtual interview. As many as 84% of the candidates who received a virtual interview note from recruiters responded within 24 hours. Thus, virtual interviewing looks a promising way to reduce the burden on HR teams in their never-ending hunt for new talent.

On the other hand, the lack of human touch in virtual interviews is what companies may need to tackle. Companies also need to optimize the choice between virtual- and personal interviewing based on the role and experience of the hire.

How to prepare for a virtual interview? 

For all the reasons that we navigated through so far, virtual interviewing will be the new norm. This means candidates should possess an understanding of how to do well in a virtual interview. 

Here are some virtual interview best practices that will help you handle it with confidence and make your impression on the recruiter.

Familiarize with the technology

In virtual interviews, it is the software that is the link between you and the recruiter. Hence, it is indispensable that you are familiar with it, especially if you are new to the tool.

Virtual interview software offers many features such as Mute, Share the screen, Subtitles and captions, Recording, Send messages and emojis, etc. 

Note that some of these may be at the mercy of the organizer. But it is good if you can familiarize yourself with them well ahead. You do not want to ask your interviewer, “ Give me a sec please! I am looking for the volume button!” 

Either it is a Google Hangouts virtual interview or a Zoom virtual interview, or a Skype virtual interview, or any other, be sure to try the software at least a day ahead. Understand its features, and all the operations involved. In case of any questions related to the software, remember that answers are just a Google search away. 

Related: Gig economy: What you should know?

Seek family’s help

Virtual interviews offer the convenience of attending interviews from your sweet nest. That said, you cannot take the privilege of annoying the interviewer with the disturbances at your home. 

Inform the family members well ahead not to disturb you during the interview. You do not want your interviewer to see some family members walking in the background in pajamas! Nor would it look great for the interviewer to hear your dog barking or see your cat jumping all over you! Thus, during the virtual interview, avoid all sorts of distractions from the family side mercilessly.

Block the calendar

Soon after you receive a note from the employer to attend a virtual interview, block your calendar accordingly. It helps in a great way if you are applying for multiple jobs to avoid clashing of interview schedules. Calendar tools also help you to alert by raising an alarm before an hour or two as per your choice. You could try this option as well.

Clear the clutter

Virtual interviews mean you and the recruiter see and talk to each other face to face. This mandates that you need to choose a clutter-free background to appear for a video interview. Remember that having a professional background is one of the virtual interview best practices.

How to set a Virtual background for an interview?

Depending on the features of the software you choose, you can set the virtual background. Tools like Zoom allow you to add a personalized background from the set of library pictures available. You can also upload a favorite pic and set it as a virtual background. Make sure the background pic is professional and not loud or flashy. 

Sometimes you might also need to share your screen while explaining your previous works or projects. Thus, it makes sense to clear the clutter from the desktop and arrange the files you would like to share with the interviewer, and keep them handy.

Remember that recruiters run on tight timelines. Hence give your best shot to save their time by trimming down unwanted searches and delays.

Shun the distractions

Another main aspect from among the virtual interview best practices is avoiding distractions. Close all other tabs and windows on your browser before the start of the virtual interview.

Similarly, mute your phone and keep it away to avoid being disturbed by unwanted messages and push notifications.

Interviews are a chance to grab that next dream job. Plus, not everyone might turn lucky to get shortlisted. Hence you need to give all the focus on the interview; all other distractions can wait.

Take care of lighting and screen set up

Check the ventilation in the location you chose for the interview. The light should fall on your face, not from your behind. Set your computer’s camera angle such that there is a clear display of your whole face from the best possible angle. You could also make use of books or supports to raise the level of your laptop or adjust the screen to give the best view of your cute face to the recruiter.

Test the devices well ahead

Tech glitches are something that annoys every one of us. Test your PC, laptop, mobile, headset, camera, microphone, and internet well ahead. Also, test them on the night before the interview. Charge fully your laptop and mobile. Arrange for backup connectivity. 

Also Read: How artificial intelligence is changing the landscape of recruiting?

Dress appropriately

This is an often-debated aspect of virtual interview best practices. A common doubt that strikes most of us is – “What to wear for a virtual interview?

We indeed attend virtual interviews from our homes, but that does not mean that we attend in our comfort wear. 

The best dress for a virtual interview is always professional attire. Why? According to psychologists, wearing professional attire even when we are working from home tunes our mind that we are working from the workplace. This means we can don ourselves fully into the professional avatar even while working from home. 

Hence, attending a virtual interview in professional dress helps you both psychologically and physically to leave a mark on the recruiter.

Be mindful of your body language

Virtual interviews often lack a human touch which is otherwise helpful for recruiters in estimating the behavior and traits of a candidate.

Thus, note that your body language in front of the screen is very important in sending positive signals to the recruiter. Unintentional body language, either voluntarily or involuntarily, may do more harm than you presume. 

Practice virtual interview sessions with the help of your friends and family. Ask them to set up a mock virtual interview session.

Record the session and observe how you are looking and acting in front of the camera. This helps you understand where you need to improve your body language. 

Display enthusiasm

Nervousness can obstruct you from creating the best impression you could otherwise. Be free, confident, and enthusiastic. Smile and talk slowly with the recruiter. Let them finish their talk before you could start asking or answering. 

Show that you are eager to take up the opportunity to join their organization. You can do this with confidence if you make a little homework about their company, the role, and their business ahead. 

Maintain eye contact

Maintaining eye contact is the key to make the first impression. However, this can be tricky when attending interviews via video interviewing software.

So here’s the tip: Always look at the camera instead of your face or the recruiter on the screen. By looking at the camera, remember that you are looking straight into the recruiter’s face. 

This can be tough to implement, but not impossible. With a little practice and remembrance, you can master this eye contact technique with ease.

Be yourself

Present the best authentic version of yourself to the recruiter. If you were one among millions who lost the job due to the pandemic, do not feel like you have done something wrong and try to hide it.

Also Read: How to deal with career gap in resume?

Be open and speak honestly. Explain to them what you did in this career gap that will help you either personally or professionally.

Be it learning a new online course or spending time in gardening reflecting on your past failures and successes, everything is worth mentioning. After all, the pandemic changed the whole world, including the perception of companies and recruiters. So, keep in mind that being yourself is one of the virtual interview best practices.

At the end of the virtual interview, thank the recruiter for shortlisting you. Ask questions if any on your mind. This will certainly make a good impression on the recruiter. Check with them when you can expect the results and follow up professionally. 

Summing Up

Preparing for a virtual interview is not an impossible task. With practice and adequate preparation, succeeding in a virtual interview is easier than before. 

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