5 tips to master your virtual interview

Written on the 28 June 2021

A few years ago a virtual interview would have been pretty unusual. Move forward to 2021 and many people and their organisations are working from home. Virtual meetings, virtual chats and now virtual interviews are commonplace.

According to Gartner, 89% of organisations have shifted to virtual recruiting since COVID-19. That’s a significant shift. So, if you’re on the hunt for a new job or opportunity, it is likely you’ll end up interviewing from home or you’ll be involved in a hybrid interview (in person and online).

Mastering these new and evolving interview situations is your next key to success after you’ve updated your resume and LinkedIn profile.


1. Set yourself up for success
Virtual interview
  • Setting up a space for your interview is key to ensuring you are comfortable; the interviewer can see you clearly and there are no disruptive noises.
  • Find a room with great natural lighting as this is the most flattering.
  • Use background filters to keep the interviewer focused on you (not the contents of your bedroom in the background!).
  • Make eye contact with the camera, which means you need to look directly into the camera. Eye contact tells the interviewers that you are focused, paying attention and actively listening. Only look at the screen when you are listening.
  • Confirm you have the correct links from the prospective employer and that you have downloaded and tested the virtual meeting software prior to the interview.
  • If you have a presentation to share, check to ensure the panel will be able to view it and when you cease sharing your screen, make sure you know how to return to viewing the panel. Valuable minutes can be lost if no one can see you and you’re stuck only on audio. A little preparation beforehand will pay dividends (and show the interview panel you are prepared and capable).
  • Do an internet speed test. Google “internet speed test” and check your upload speed is at least 3 Mbps. This is a major complaint from interviewers when the video keeps lagging due to poor internet connection.
  • If you are using your personal accounts in Skype, Zoom or Teams, make sure you have a professional name and profile picture as these will be visible during and after the interview.
In-office virtual interview
  • If the interview is via video but in-office, head in earlier to ensure you have time to get settled.
  • Ask the person who is looking after you to double check the technology is working and also how to find them if there is an issue.
Hybrid interview

If you are interviewing in person and virtually, your interview is hybrid and involves mastering both interview techniques.

  • Eye contact with all interviewers is essential so don’t forget those behind the camera. Make sure you look straight into the camera to engage the interviewers who are meeting you virtually.
  • It is likely you will be in-office during a hybrid interview, so arrive early, dress appropriately for the company’s culture and convey optimistic and energetic body language to show you are enthusiastic about the role to both those virtual and in person.


2. Get to know your audience

The more you know about your audience the better. This applies to whether you are networking at a social event or preparing for an interview. Anything you can find out about the organisation’s strategic direction and strategies, latest media releases or any social media content means you will have the most up-to-date information to assist you with valuable insights to ask the panel. Don’t forget to research the panel members; finding out their backgrounds can give you a window into what they may individually think is important.


3. Practice answers to potential questions

It’s a great idea to come prepared with answers to some potential questions. We’ve listed some interview questions that we often see asked:

  • Tell us about something that went wrong in your career and its impact on you. What did you learn from this experience?
  • Describe, using an example, how you align business unit strategies to the organisational goals of your organisation. How did you communicate your vision and how did you ensure everyone was onboard with your strategies? In hindsight, is there anything you would do differently?
  • Tell us about a transformational change you have led; what was the strategic imperative, how did you manage the change, what were the challenges you faced and what was the outcome?
  • How do you create a continuous improvement mindset in staff? How do you ensure changes implemented are sustainable over time?

Also, come prepared with your own questions to ask. It shows initiative and also helps you understand what the role and organisation would be like to work for or what challenges you could face.

  • Describe the culture of the organisation and how does the organisation live its values day-to-day?
  • What are the challenges this role will face in the next 12 months?
  • What are the deliverables for this role in the next 12 months, and two years?


4. What to do if something goes wrong?

Make sure you have a backup plan to action quickly if your technology lets you down on the day.

  • Ensure you have the interviewer’s phone number on hand so you can call them if the video cuts out or you have trouble with the connection.
  • If there is noise and disruption in the background, apologise for the interruption and place your microphone on mute until it passes.
  • If someone enters the room, ask for a few minutes to resolve the situation and apologise, place your microphone on mute and turn off the video until you have secured the room.


5. Be yourself

Above all, be your authentic self. There is a physical disconnect with virtual interviews, so make an effort to develop rapport with the panel and use expression and enthusiasm to show the interviewer your personality.

A final word of encouragement: the panel wants a recruitment solution and you want to give them the confidence that you are the solution. Best of luck!


Christine O'Donnell

Christine O'Donnell

Christine O'Donnell is the Senior Partner at Meritos, an executive search and recruitment business working with purpose-driven organisations. If you're interested in connecting with Christine, you can find her on LinkedIn here. You can also reach her via email at [email protected]

Questions to ask to help you understand a candidate:

1. Describe your ideal working environment.

2. What do you enjoy about your current workplace?

3. How does a manager get the best out of you?

4. Describe the best team that you’ve ever worked in.

The reasons why I ask these questions:

1. Reason

2. Reason

3. Reason

4. Reason

Insights by Christine O'Donnell