15 Tips for Acing an Online Job Interview (2022)

COVID-19 has impacted a lot of things—including how we restrict face-to-face interactions. Many interviews are now taking place virtually, especially in the early stages of the talent search.

In recent years, online job interviews have become more popular and many companies, including Hilton, are regularly using technology to conduct preliminary interviews. During the pandemic, job interviews for nearly every stage of the hiring process became the norm.

While online interviews are similar to traditional, in-person meetings, they have some major differences that candidates should be prepared for.

How are Virtual Job Interviews Different?

If you are preparing for a job interview (and especially if you’ve interviewed in the past), you may be wondering how virtual interviews differ from in-person interviews.

Job interviews have always been daunting for employees of all experience levels because they include a fast first impression and could put you on the spot to prove yourself. There is an even higher chance for things to go wrong if your prospective employer wants to chat face-to-face online.

Not only do you face potential connection issues or tech problems, but it can be harder to read someone virtually. You will have to change some of the things you think about during the interview. You may find the format is different as well. Depending on the type of online interview you are participating in, there are some instances where you are just recording your answers instead of conversing with a live person on the other end. This can be stressful for some candidates. Just remember that being brave enough to take the plunge and show initiative during an unfamiliar interview process is already a positive step in the right direction!

Going through an online job interview for the first time can be scary, but we are here to help! Here are 15 tips to help you succeed:

1. Do a Test-Run With Your Computer

In this day and age, technology can be overwhelming and with online interviews especially, you need to feel comfortable using whichever method your prospective employee prefers (Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, etc.). Once you’re comfortable with the program you’ll be using, it’s a good idea to test your internet connection as well as your audio and sound capabilities to make sure everything works properly. In addition, be sure to find an area with sufficient lighting so that those conducting the interview can see you clearly.

Pro Tip: Before logging on, ask the interviewer what the format is. Here are a few questions to ask to make sure you’re prepared:

  • Is it an audio interview or both audio and video?
  • Is there someone on the other end of the video or are the questions pre-recorded?
  • If they are pre-recorded, how many chances do I get to record my answer?
  • What do I do or who do I call if I start having technical difficulties?

Then, find a friend or family member you can use that platform to connect with. For platforms like Zoom and Skype, they are pretty user-friendly, but it helps to feel familiar with the interface before you get on with your employer and realize you are trying to respond and still muted.

2. Pick the Perfect Spot for Lighting

Make sure it isn’t too dark but also stay away from overhead lights during the interview, if you can. If possible, try to settle down near a window with your face towards the light. You always want to put your best foot (or in this case, face) forward!

Lighting Dos:

  • Natural (window) light is best because it gives the best (most accurate) color.
  • Turn off any overhead lights if you are able to sit by a window because they will add a yellow or blue tint (depending on the kind of bulb).
  • Light on your face will highlight your eyes and facial features.

Lighting Don’ts:

  • Lighting from above or behind will cause strange shadows on your face and a frizz halo out of your hair.
  • Lighting from behind or the side will cause a glare, making it difficult for the interviewer to see you.
  • Lighting from behind or the side can also cause a glare on your screen and make it hard for you to see the interviewer!

Pro Tip: Scope out a good spot to conduct your online meeting the day before to make sure you’re not rushing around before the interview. Make sure you have a stable table for your laptop. You don’t want it bouncing around or wobbling during the interview. You may need to use a box to lift the laptop up so that it gets from just below your shoulders to just above your head for a perfectly framed interview shot. If you are using a tablet or smartphone, use a device tripod to hold it steady.

3. Forgo Virtual Backgrounds

You may feel tempted to pick out a cute background on the platform, but don’t! Backgrounds are distracting and unprofessional for a first-time meeting. In fact, you want to choose the most professional area of your home for the interview—feel free to stage it just for the interview!

Pro Tip: Once you’ve identified the places that offer the best lighting, you will want to carefully examine the backgrounds to choose the best spot. Remove any clutter. Avoid odd things in the background like a bed or toilet. It may seem obvious, but sometimes people just don’t really think about the first impression their home is making.

Books can make you look smart, tactful home décor can give the appearance of being put together and artsy pieces in the background can make you look cultured. A blank wall is even acceptable because it keeps the focus on you.

4. Remove Distractions

Silence anything that could interfere with your conversation, including your phone and email notifications on your computer. It is rude to be interrupted during an interview unless you have an emergency situation that your potential employer is already going to be aware of.

Pro Tip: Make sure no one else is around when you are completing your interview, including pets. Interviewers have seen cats walk across the computer screen and close the session, half-clothed people walking across the room in the background or hear children screaming in the next room. Don’t jeopardize your career by not being prepared! If you can’t ensure people aren’t going to interrupt you, it might be best to either take your interview to another location or make sure your roommates (or family) can plan to be gone for the day.

5. Log on Early and Test Setup

Being on time is really being about 10 minutes early. For a virtual, first-time interview, you may want to make sure you are ready to go 15-20 minutes early. If this sounds like a lot, just remember: In a normal interview, you would probably be getting ready, driving, parking and finding the right room before the interview.

In this situation, setting up the computer and logging in is essentially the parking part of your interview process. Make sure everything works and then you can hang out until about 5-10 minutes before the scheduled time.

Pro Tip: ALWAYS act like your interviewer can hear and see everything you are doing. Getting in the habit of feeling “watched” during the session will help you not do something strange because you forget people are in the room or don’t realize your camera is on. From the moment you log in until the moment you close the screen, just assume they can hear and see everything.

6. Sit Up and Dress Professionally

Even though you’re not meeting your interviewer in person, make sure to dress for success and sit up straight. First impressions matter and your appearance can really make or break yours.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to smile! Whether you are talking to an actual person or recording your answers, smile the way you would during an in-person interview. Wear clothes that are flattering and fit the job you are interviewing for. When in doubt, dress up rather than dress down (especially for virtual interviews!).

Not only will sitting up and smiling make you look more professional and engaged—they will actually help you feel more powerful and energetic! Good posture makes you feel more confident, puts you in a better mood and communicates openness.

7. Calm Your Nerves

Practice your main talking points if you’re nervous and remember to slow down—it can be easy to talk over people on online calls. You may need to be slightly louder and more emphatic than you would be in person, since the screen is going to reduce a little bit of the impact you would have in person.

Pro Tip: Even though this particular interview is hosted online, don’t forget to review your traditional interview skills. You’ll want to have answers prepared to some of the more common interview questions and examples in case they ask for specifics.

Before the interview, try standing in power poses to channel your nerves into feel-good energy. Science has shown that these poses can help you think on the go and perform well under stress.

8. Look Your Interviewer in the "Eye"

In the online environment, eye contact is important—even though it isn’t true eye contact.

Instead of looking at the person on the screen, look directly into the webcam and stay engaged. It can be tricky to look at the camera when you see a person on the screen. But, looking at the screen will make you look like you are staring down (since screens are usually below cameras).

If you’ve taken a selfie before, then you probably know the deal. But, somehow, video is harder.

Pro Tip: If you are uncomfortable, put a picture of someone you know up by the webcam. This way, you feel as though you're chatting with a friend. If you have a webcam on a stand, you can even place it in front of the person’s face to make this a little easier.

9. Listen Carefully

It’s easy to miss something important during an interview. It’s also sometimes very difficult to interrupt without an embarrassing mess of overlapping sound bytes.

Avoid weird situations by jotting down keywords or short reminder phrases if you want to remember a point or circle back to ask a question. Try not to let your note-taking interfere with the flow of the interview. If you do miss something that was said, make sure you ask.

Pro Tip: Sometimes devices have speakers that don’t get very loud. You may want to consider connecting your laptop to external speakers or even headphones to get clearer sound. If you have any gaming or podcasting microphones, using one could really improve the quality of your voice for the call.

10. Use Engaged Body Language

Similar to the power poses, using engaged body language during the interview is going to help you answer with confidence and energy. Even if the call is just over the phone, the right posture will help you sound more friendly, open and sure of yourself.

On the flip side, slouching can cause you to feel tired and want to be done. Crossing your arms or your legs will look like you aren’t fully engaged and can actually cause a kind of mental block that makes it hard to really take in the information.

Pro Tip: Make sure you are sitting up straight with your shoulders back and head up. This is something you will want to practice when you are getting your spot picked out. Make sure that your computer or camera is positioned at eye level, so you don’t have to lean over or duck down to get in the frame. You may need to place it on a box or stand to get it to the perfect height.

11. Don't Rely On Notes

While you might take a few notes of your own during the interview, don’t write down a list of things you want to say. Too many notes will be awkward and make the interview seem forced.

Pro Tip: You won’t want to have detailed notes, but you will want to have a few questions jotted down so you are prepared. You may even include some stats or competitor notes that you saw in your research.

Don’t feel like you need to rush into answers. Give yourself a second or two to breathe before answering the questions. Not only will the short pause give you a second to organize your thoughts, it will ensure you aren’t cutting in on top of the interviewer. Remember, when you are nervous, you are more likely to go faster than when you are comfortable, so slow it down!

12. Be Yourself

You want to come across as genuine and authentic during an interview. This is your opportunity to express yourself off paper. Your resume already got your foot in the door, now you get to show who you are as an individual.

Being overly stiff is a pretty common response to nerves. Try to loosen up your mindset and take cues from your interviewer. When you choose your outfit for the meeting, for example, try to dress professionally without squashing your personal style.

Pro Tip: Knowing who you are as a professional is really important. Stop and think deeply about your personal strengths, weaknesses and traits. You can even make a list ahead of time to get your thoughts organized. These are likely going to be questions asked during the interview anyways. When you have a better feel for what you want to communicate, you’ll be better enabled to let your strengths naturally shine through.

13. Make a Connection

Nerves may make you naturally focus on yourself. Knowing that is probably going to be the case, make sure you pay special attention to the interviewer. Try to pick up on cues from him or her—making a personal connection over interests, hobbies or even the weather can help you start building that professional relationship.

Pro Tip: Just like you thought about your background, the interviewer may have as well. You might be able to spot something of interest behind his or her desk. You may prefer to talk about the weather.

14. Write Down 5 Questions Beforehand

Prepare by doing some research on the company and industry. Try to think of five good questions that aren’t about salary or benefits (you can have those, too, but they are too easy. They don’t let the interviewer know you’ve done your homework and your serious about the job.)

You want to think up five in case some of them are naturally answered along the way. Most interviewers ask at the end if you have questions and having two or three questions to ask will show you’ve put thought into this.

Pro Tip: Ask questions that show you would be an engaged and valuable member on the team, ready to get to work as soon as you are hired.

15. Follow Up Afterward

Showing your interest and dedication can go a long way in convincing a hiring manager you are the right person for the job. While you don’t want to be aggressive, desperate or obnoxious, you don’t want to come off as passive, apathetic or lackadaisical either!

Before the interview is over, ask when they will likely get back to you. If they don’t get back to you by the named day, try waiting another day or two before reaching out.

Always follow up with a brief thank you a few days after the interview. Reassert how interested you are in the position and how much you appreciated their time.

Pro Tip: Most of the time, sending an email is going to be the best way to connect with an employer because it is less demanding—they can read it in their free time. Keep your contact short and include how much you appreciated interviewing with them. Don’t use a generic boilerplate email. Personalize your “thank you” follow-up so that you come off as genuine.

Bonus Tip

Bottom line: Don’t stress too much! Online conferences are commonly used in the first round of candidate interviews because they save the company time and money. They help level the playing field for applicants. The good news is that there is (more than likely) going to be an in-person interview in the next round, giving you the chance to meet your prospective employer in person.

And the best part of an online interview? You don’t need to worry about a firm handshake!

To learn more about Johnson & Wales University and how one of our online degree programs can help further your career, complete the Request Info form or call 855-JWU-1881 or email onlineadmissions@jwu.edu.

*Article originally posted on November 20th, 2017 by Sara Shine. Updated 4-2021*

FAQs

Is it OK to look at notes during online interview? ›

Because your interviewer won't be able to see everything you have on your desk (or on your computer screen), it might be tempting to have a lot of information in front of you for a video interview. But be careful. Turner recommends having only a few quick notes in front of you and glancing at them sparingly.

How do you prepare for a 15 minute zoom interview? ›

These Zoom interview tips can help you master this video software and show employers you're a qualified candidate:
  1. Use the mute button.
  2. Look into the camera while speaking.
  3. Choose a professional background.
  4. Find a brightly lit room.
  5. Pick a quiet space.
  6. Silence your phone.
  7. Maintain your focus.
  8. Turn off notifications.

What are the 10 most common interview questions and answers? ›

10 most common interview questions and answers
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What attracted you to our company?
  • Tell me about your strengths.
  • Tell me about your strengths.
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Tell me about a time where you encountered a business challenge?

What is the star method in interviewing? ›

The STAR method is a structured manner of responding to a behavioral-based interview question by discussing the specific situation, task, action, and result of the situation you are describing.

Why should we hire you answer best? ›

Show that you have skills and experience to do the job and deliver great results. You never know what other candidates offer to the company. But you know you: emphasize your key skills, strengths, talents, work experience, and professional achievements that are fundamental to getting great things done on this position.

What is the best color to wear for a Zoom interview? ›

Great colors: royal blues, greens, grays, browns/tans, and purples can all work well. Softer colors (such as a pale blue shirt) work well because they convey a bit of personality without being overwhelming. Blue is also one of my favorite colors as it convey feelings of calm, trust and confidence.

How do I see my notes during Zoom interview? ›

"You can read during an interview or presentation," she explained. The simple tip involved downloading the "transparent note" app on your Apple desktop, which allows you to create see through virtual post-it notes on the screen. The notes can then be made bigger to fit across the whole screen, or any desired size.

How do you answer tell me about yourself? ›

Your answer to the "tell me about yourself" question should describe your current situation, your past job experience, the reason you're a good fit for the role, and how you align with the company values. Tell the interviewer about your current position and a recent big accomplishment or positive feedback you received.

How can I impress in interview? ›

Here are five tips on how to impress in an interview:
  1. Show passion. Keep a positive attitude and enthusiasm when discussing your career and talking about yourself. ...
  2. Highlight your relevant skills and talents. ...
  3. Tell a story. ...
  4. Prepare to ask questions. ...
  5. Tell them you want the job. ...
  6. Exercise. ...
  7. Get plenty of rest. ...
  8. Remember to eat.
29 Sept 2021

Should you dress up for a Zoom interview? ›

Yes! You should choose the same attire as you would for any other interview. Even the shoes you wear for a Zoom interview are important. Although the interviewer likely won't see most of your outfit, what you wear during the interview can impact how you present yourself and how confident you feel.

What is your weakness best answer? ›

Answer “what is your greatest weakness” by choosing a skill that is not essential to the job you're applying to and by stressing exactly how you're practically addressing your weakness. Some skills that you can use as weaknesses include impatience, multitasking, self-criticism, and procrastination.

How do you know if a hiring manager likes you? ›

Here are a few to keep an eye out for:
  1. A distant demeanor, but a long interview. ...
  2. They ask a long series of tough questions. ...
  3. They pay little attention to your answers. ...
  4. They display inconsistent behavior. ...
  5. They ask a lot of hypothetical questions. ...
  6. They place emphasis on speaking with your references.
17 Aug 2016

What is the most common reason why interviews fail? ›

Poor preparation before an interview is an obvious killer and 75% of the interviews fail because the candidate didn't expect some of the questions asked or didn't know enough about the company…

How do you nail an interview? ›

How to Nail a Job Interview — Remotely
  1. Tap your network. ...
  2. Brush up your resume and cover letter. ...
  3. Prepare for a remote interview. ...
  4. Rehearse ahead of time. ...
  5. Go into the interview with a positive mindset. ...
  6. Exaggerate your emotions a bit on screen. ...
  7. Convey warmth during the interview. ...
  8. Ask pertinent questions.
22 Jun 2020

What is your strength best answer? ›

You can say that your greatest strength is: Creativity. Originality. Open-mindedness.

What qualities make you a good candidate? ›

Desired Candidate Attributes
  • Leadership. Even in entry-level positions, most employers look for evidence of leadership qualities. ...
  • Teamwork. ...
  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills. ...
  • Analytical Skills. ...
  • Dependability and a Strong Work Ethic. ...
  • Maturity and a Professional Attitude. ...
  • Adaptability and Flexibility. ...
  • Good Personality.

What should you not do in a video interview? ›

3 Things You Should Never Do During a Video Interview
  • Being Too Casual. Some candidates may assume that if a company has a casual corporate culture, they can treat their interview performance in kind. ...
  • Picking the Wrong Place. ...
  • Skipping the Tech Test.

What kind of shoes should I wear to a job interview? ›

When deciding what professional shoes to wear to an interview, make sure your shoes are closed toe, the heel no higher than 3 inches, and in neutral colors. Flats are perfectly acceptable for an interview too. Leave the flip-flops, Eskimo boots, and Nike in the shoe cabinet.

What should a woman wear to an interview in 2022? ›

In formal environments, appropriate attire might include a tailored suit, button-down shirt with tie, blouse, lace-up dress shoes or close-toed pumps, and stockings or dress socks.

Is it OK to bring notes to interview? ›

It is 100 percent acceptable to bring notes to a job interview if those notes contain a list of questions you've prepared in advance to ask your interviewers. In fact, bringing this type of information to an interview demonstrates to the recruiter your genuine interest in the job opportunity.

What are good questions to ask at the end of an interview? ›

Questions to ask at the end of a job interview
  • How would you describe the company's culture? ...
  • What is your favorite thing about working for this company? ...
  • How do you see this company evolving over the next five years? ...
  • How would the person in this role contribute to this vision?

Should you sit or stand during video interview? ›

Sit Up Straight

Having good posture during your interview shows you're alert, interested, and engaged. Slouching in your seat can look unprofessional and make it seem like you're a little too casual—and therefore not truly interested in the position.

What do you say at the end of a zoom interview? ›

Finish with a polite conclusion

"I am grateful for interviewing with you today. You have given me a clear overview of the position. I think my experience and accomplishments can provide value to the organization. Is there anything else you need to confirm if I am the right candidate for this position?"

How long should a zoom interview last? ›

Zoom interviews are often much shorter than in-person ones, almost always taking under an hour and as quick as 15 minutes. Make sure to practice delivering your answers as concisely as possible. Look up the types of questions that are asked in your specific industry.

Can you bring a cheat sheet to an interview? ›

It's a checklist to make sure you stay focused before, during and after the interview. Creating a cheat sheet will help you feel more prepared and confident. You shouldn't memorize what's on the sheet or check it off during the interview. You should use your cheat sheet to remind you of key facts.

Can you look at notes during an interview? ›

Yes you can, provided you are doing so for the right reasons. Notes are appropriate if they contain questions or points of discussion stemming from your research about the role and/or organisation, or if they are a summary of key content from your CV you want to highlight during your interview.

Can I look at notes during a zoom interview? ›

"You can read during an interview or presentation," she explained. The simple tip involved downloading the "transparent note" app on your Apple desktop, which allows you to create see through virtual post-it notes on the screen. The notes can then be made bigger to fit across the whole screen, or any desired size.

Is it bad to use notes in an interview? ›

Often times people will run through sample questions to have an idea of what they will say. Some might wonder, is it ok to bring notes to interview appointments? The simple answer is yes. In addition to bringing copies of your resume, a list of questions or talking points is fine.

Is it bad to take notes during an interview? ›

It's acceptable to bring notes with you to an interview if the notes contain the questions you plan to ask your interviewer. You might also include questions about the company that you were unable to answer through your research.

What to bring to an interview to stand out? ›

How to stand out during an interview
  1. Research the company. ...
  2. Wear bold colors. ...
  3. Arrive early for your interview. ...
  4. Showcase your strengths and areas for improvement. ...
  5. Describe your accomplishments. ...
  6. Give them samples of previous projects. ...
  7. Present a 30-60-90 day plan. ...
  8. Ask unique questions.

How do you close an interview? ›

Here are 10 ways to leave the interview on a good note.
  1. 1: Sincerely thank your interviewers for their time.
  2. 2: Ask a question, even if you don't have one.
  3. 3: Practice your handshake.
  4. 4: Confirm your interest in the position.
  5. 5: Restate why you're the perfect candidate.
  6. 6: Ask about short-term goals of the position.
12 Mar 2020

What should you not do in a video interview? ›

3 Things You Should Never Do During a Video Interview
  • Being Too Casual. Some candidates may assume that if a company has a casual corporate culture, they can treat their interview performance in kind. ...
  • Picking the Wrong Place. ...
  • Skipping the Tech Test.

How do you answer tell me about yourself? ›

Your answer to the "tell me about yourself" question should describe your current situation, your past job experience, the reason you're a good fit for the role, and how you align with the company values. Tell the interviewer about your current position and a recent big accomplishment or positive feedback you received.

Which part of the interview is the most important *? ›

The most important aspect of successful interviewing is not your experience, your degree or your resume. That's what got you the interview. The key to successful interviewing can be summed up in one word: passion. It's your passion for the job that will set you apart from the crowd.

What are some unique questions to ask in an interview? ›

Questions to ask the applicant during an interview

What is one misconception people have about you? Who at your previous place of work gave you the most energy and why? If you could wave a magic wand, what problem in the world would you solve and why? What were your most and least satisfying jobs, and why?

What you should not do during interview? ›

15 Things You Should NOT Do at an Interview
  • Not Doing Your Research. ...
  • Turning Up Late. ...
  • Dressing Inappropriately. ...
  • Fidgeting With Unnecessary Props. ...
  • Poor Body Language. ...
  • Unclear Answering and Rambling. ...
  • Speaking Negatively About Your Current Employer. ...
  • Not Asking Questions.

Should you accept water at an interview? ›

Should you accept drinks during an interview? Yes, accepting drinks during an interview is a good idea. The interviewer may offer a cup of coffee tea, water or even juice. There are many benefits of accepting a drink during an interview so it is worth it even if you do not finish your drink.

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