A young girl sat at a desk with her laptop open on during a virtual interview.

May 14, 2021, by indybamra1

Preparing for Virtual Interviews

By Anna Scrivener, Employability Education Projects Officer

The pandemic made virtual interviews essential, but now that employers and candidates have seen the benefits it looks like they are here to stay. So, what can you do to best prepare?

Before the interview

Many students worry that there is a secret to virtual interviews that they don’t know, but no, everything you have been told about preparing for a face-to-face interview applies:

  • Practice a range of interview questions: motivational; competency and strengths-based.
  • Prepare your examples using the STAR technique to ensure you are giving the level of detail that they need.
  • Research the company, their values, what is happening on their social media feeds, and any interviewers you have been told about – yes, a little bit of stalking is allowed! Recruiters may be checking out your social media profiles too.
  • Know the job description and person specification back to front so you can tick their boxes when you answer questions in the interview. Go back to your application form and remember what you have said because you would have already done a lot of that work there.
  • Record yourself answering questions and listen back, find a critical friend who can give you honest feedback on how you present your answers. Use the Graduates First portal to record yourself, get feedback and watch your video.

On the day of the interview

Although you don’t need to travel to the interview, there are still some things you can do to prepare:

  • Being at home can make it tempting to run around ‘doing life’ right up until the last minute. But we need mental preparation time, so we can think clearly during the interview, so make sure you plan some time in the day to do this.
  • Dress up – yes, even for virtual interviews! Dressing up has an emotional impact on our brains as we become our professional self and feel more prepared and confident.
  • Remember this is a professional interaction, video interviews can feel more relaxed but don’t be fooled, employers still want you to be polite and professional.
  • Body language signals are important, face the camera, look at the interviewers (not yourself), smile, and engage with them.
  • Make sure you are somewhere quiet where you won’t be disturbed and arrange to have someone else answer the door for those deliveries!
  • And last, but by no means least, charge your mobile device and check your internet connection beforehand. Perhaps you can have a backup option, which is a personal hotspot.

The biggest benefit of virtual interviews in my experience is the ability to use notes. Put some key prompts on the wall in front of you, obviously not too much, but this will allow you to have a clearer head. The virtual interview can allow you to be more flexible, picking the right example at the right time from a selection you have already prepared. Rather than trying to make the example at the forefront of your mind fit the question they have asked.

All interviews are nerve-racking and virtual interviews no less so, but treat them with the same seriousness that you would any other interview. Preparation is key, then be yourself and remember interviews are two-way so make sure you ask the interviewer questions too so that you can decide if this is the right opportunity for you.

Take a look at our interviews webpage which outlines the different types of interviews you may have and some calming techniques. We also have a podcast on employability matters where we discuss the similarities and differences between online and face-to-face interviews. Good luck!

Posted in Careers AdviceCovidInterviews