How to Prep for a Virtual Interview

Estimated reading time ~ 4 min
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Jopwell Intern Collection

Virtual interviews are becoming a standard part of most application processes. Whether live or pre-recorded, being prepared for these interviews is crucial as you look for your next career opportunity. As a recruiter, I’ve watched hundreds of digital interviews - and I’m here to share four of my go-to tips to set you up for success!

Get camera ready

You should take the time to practice before any interview, but it’s particularly important to do so for a digital interview! Speaking into a camera can feel really awkward and it’s critical that you do some test runs ahead of the real thing - especially since most interviewing platforms don’t allow you any do-overs. Practice with questions you anticipate being asked and record yourself to notice any errors.

Set up your computer or phone and tape yourself answering some simple interview questions (“tell me about yourself” is always a good one!) Then, watch the tape back and review your performance, paying particular attention to: Eye contact - are you looking at yourself, or the camera? Make sure you look at the camera rather than checking out how you look. Presence and focus - are you sitting comfortably or are you shifting around a lot in your seat? Do you keep your hands still or do you fidget? How’s your posture? Try and keep your presence as calm as possible - you don’t want to distract the person on the other end from the words that you’re saying. Volume and pace - A lot of people have a hard time speaking at a normal volume and pace when they are on camera - either speaking too quietly, too slowly or (my personal issue) way too fast. Notice what category you fall into and practice moderating your pace and volume. Background distractions - keep the background neutral! This goes for both the decor of the room you’re in (you may not want to set up right in front of your Beyoncé poster) and any noise or potential interruptions - if you’re worried that a roommate or parent may pop in unexpectedly, tape a sign to your door (or lock it!) Suggestions for quiet places: home during a time everyone is out, an empty classroom or meeting space in your student center, or a workspace near you with open offices. Ask your Career Services center if they have any recommendations if you’re having a tough time finding space!

Practice your content

Digital interviews will often give you a specific amount of time to respond to each question - so it’s really important to practice your answers. You don’t want to spend half of your allotted time trying to think of a response! Write down a list of interview questions you will most likely hear - we’ve included a sample list below - and practice answering them in 2-3 minutes max. Want to take this practice routine one step further? Set up your camera, give your friend that list of questions and have them randomly feed you the questions while you answer them on camera. Watch yourself responding and evaluate your answers - did you leave a lot of time on the table? If so, add more details! Go over time? Work on trimming down your answer. Get tongue tied? Practice your responses some more!

A great way to organize the components of your response is the STAR method: state the situation, talk through the task you had to do, review the action you took to accomplish that task, and then wrap up with your result.

Example interview questions for prep: Tell me about yourself? Why are you interested in applying for this position? What’s your biggest weakness? Why did you choose your major? What’s the most difficult decision you’ve had to make? What experiences have you had that set you up well for this position? Tell us about a time where you might have failed?

Do your research

Before heading in to your interview, do as much background research as you can to prepare for what you might be asked. Most company websites will contain resources for interview processes and will often give an overview of what to expect - especially if the interview is more technical as opposed to behavioral. You can also reach out to people in your network who have already gone through the interview process - it’s not cheating to ask what questions they answered! It’s highly likely that the company has a rotating slate of questions, so you won’t get the exact same ones, but it will be helpful in your prep. Sign up for virtual interview prep sessions - as these will often allow you to ask questions directly of the recruiters reviewing your digital interviews and will give you great insight into the process. Check out the Jopwell Events page to sign up for any virtual prep sessions currently posted!

Prepare to stumble

Every interview situation can be scary. Virtual interviews can take that anxiety to a new level - when you’re talking into a camera, you don’t have the benefit of a real person sitting across from you providing cues (like a smile!) and it’s easy to overanalyze your performance. You’re most likely going to make a misstep. Maybe you’ll be tongue tied for 10 seconds, or you’ll get a question you really weren’t expecting, or your cat will jump on your computer keyboard right in the middle of an answer. I’ve seen all these things happen (yes, even the cat!) and I promise that it feels way worse than it actually appears on screen. The best thing to do is take a deep breath, reset, and keep going - don’t let one bad answer throw you off for the rest of the interview. This shows recruiters that you’re able to take a challenge in stride and it will give them good insight into your ability to rise to the occasion!

Bottom line: the more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll feel during the real thing!

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