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UMGC Career Connection
Four Ways to Ace Your Virtual Job Interview

Jennifer Tomasovic
By Jennifer Tomasovic

Job hunting in the age of the global pandemic? If you are, you’ve probably noticed that many face-to-face activities, such as the job interview, have been replaced with their virtual counterparts.

With health and safety at the forefront of everyone’s minds, companies are turning to technology to connect with job candidates.

While you may feel comfortable selling your skills in person, doing the same thing via video conference comes with its own set of challenges. Here are some tips to help you ace your virtual interview and land the job.

1. Get prepared
When you get ready for a standard job interview, you usually spend your time researching the company, exploring the landscape of the industry and planning a list of thoughtful questions to ask. When you prepare for a virtual interview, though, there’s more to consider.

First, make sure you have the video conferencing software your interviewer is using installed on your computer, such as Skype, Zoom or Google Hangouts Meet. Then, do a test run.

“You need to make sure your microphone and camera work and that your Wi-Fi connection is strong enough for a smooth video conference,” advises UMGC Assistant Vice President of Career Development Dr. Francine Blume. “You want to make sure the person on the other end can see and hear your clearly.”

You can enlist the help of a friend for a videoconference dry run to ensure you iron out any technical hiccups before the big day. While you’re at it, test the screen share feature in the video conferencing application. That way you won’t fumble if you’re asked to do it on the fly.

2. Put your best foot forward
When you get ready for a regular job interview, you dress professionally and take special care with your grooming so you can make a good impression. When you prepare for a virtual interview, you should do the same thing. By putting on a suit or other appropriate clothing, you send yourself a signal that it’s time to get down to business. In turn, you’re bound to project more confidence, which won’t be lost on your interviewer.

Don’t just dress yourself, though. Make sure you pay attention to the appearance of what’s behind you when you sit at your computer, which will be in full view of your interviewer. No matter how much you wow the hiring manager with your skills and experience, a pile of rumpled laundry on the floor or a sinkful of dirty dishes is bound to become a distraction.

“Tidy your interview space, and be sure to remove anything from sight that may be considered inappropriate or unprofessional,” adds Dr. Blume.

Now’s also a good time to think through any noise that may be distracting during your interview, such as your dog barking or your children practicing the drums. Let everyone in your home know they will need to be quiet during your interview, and find a place to put your pets where they won’t be heard.

3. Practice your performance
When you interview in person, you benefit from shaking hands face to face with your interviewer and being able to read the body language of anyone in the room. Online, though. It can be harder to connect to these cues.

Focus on what you can control on your end. While you may instinctively look at your interviewer when he or she is talking, be sure to also look directly into the camera, which will ensure you are making eye contact. Demonstrate active listening, too, by nodding when you agree with something your interviewer is saying.

It can be easy to talk over someone during a videoconference and create an awkward exchange. Wait for a brief pause after your interviewer asks a question to be sure they are finished speaking so you can avoid unintentionally interrupting them.

4. Don’t forget to follow up
Just because the interview was virtual doesn’t mean you can forgo the follow-up formalities. In fact, they may be even more important when trying to make a positive impression on someone you’ve never met in person. Be sure to send that a thank-you note (or email) and include a specific detail from the interview that was of interest to you. Then follow up a week later via email to express your ongoing interest in the position.

When you take these simple steps, you can feel confident that all you have to offer the company comes through in your virtual interview.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s in-person or via the internet,” says Dr. Blume. “If you’re prepared, professional and personable, your interviewer will take note.”