Helpful tips to ace your next virtual interview

man writing on a paper in front of a laptop
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In the remote/hybrid/in-person world, virtual interviews have become commonplace. While virtual interviews can eliminate the hassle of traveling, it remains important to adequately prepare yourself. Below are some tips to present yourself in a thoughtful, professional, and prepared manner.

Test your technology beforehand

A virtual interview requires a camera and microphone on your computer and a stable internet connection. In this situation, an ethernet cable might be more reliable than a wifi connection. At least one day before your virtual interview, conduct a test run of all your technology to ensure it works properly. Even if you think your technology works fine because you have been in remote meetings all day, check your technology because an automatic update may have affected your tools or software. At least 15 minutes before your interview, check your internet connection and sign-in to the virtual interviewing platform to test your video and audio.

Wear professional attire

In a virtual interview, you should dress as you would for an in-person interview. If you are unsure how to dress, it is better to be overdressed than underdressed. Doing so will make you appear professional and help you feel prepared and confident. Even if you think that your interviewer cannot see your attire below your waist, you don’t know when you might need to get up to use the restroom, adjust your chair, or turn on a light.

Have a professional background with limited distractions

To ensure that your interviewer focuses on you and not on what is around you, limit the distractions in your background. The best place for an interview is a quiet location with a clean and professional background. Your background should be neutral and include a few non-distracting items such as books, paintings, or plants. If there is clutter in your background, that should be removed prior to the interview. In addition, tell people you are sharing space with about your interview and that the space you’re occupying will be off limits during that time.

Ensure proper lighting and make eye contact

Make sure your space is well-lit and your camera is adjusted properly, so that your interviewer can see you. If you are in a bright, sunny room, try to face the light rather than having it come in behind you. Throughout the interview, make eye contact with your camera to give the appearance of making eye contact with your interviewer. Making eye contact helps foster a sense of genuine connection and attentiveness. In addition, hand gestures and nodding your head show your interviewer that you are engaged in the interview. 

Prepare in advance

As with any interview, preparation is key to a successful interview. Being behind a screen does not mean you should read answers from a sticky note or note card – your interviewer can tell when you are reading rather than making eye contact with them. You should prepare so you are able to have a natural conversation without scrolling through notes or reading directly from a script, which can seem unnatural and ingenuine. As you prepare for an interview, practice answering questions that you anticipate from your interviewer and make sure your answers are an appropriate length given the length of the interview. Try to conclude each of your responses to interview questions on a definitive and confident note, rather than fading off or asking whether you answered the question correctly. Lastly, you should prepare at least two thoughtful questions to ask the employer if there is time to ask them questions at the end of the interview. 

Follow up

After your interview, send a thank-you note within 24 hours of your interview. The thank-you note should thank the interviewer for their time, describe something interesting or memorable that was discussed in the interview, and indicate that you are available if they have any additional questions. You may include something that you may have forgotten to mention during the interview, but only do this if you missed something very important. 

About the Author: Jennifer Chung is a J.D. candidate at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law and is a Professional Development Liaison in the GradPro office of the Graduate Division.