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8 tips for nailing an online job interview

Jul 23, 2021 by Monica Garcia

Online job interviews are today the new normal. Whether you are applying for a job abroad or in a location near you, your whole recruitment process, or at least the first stage, will most likely be online. However, it's essential to keep in mind that online job interviews require as much (if not more) preparation as those that you take in person. Although you might already have experience with this kind of interview, there will always be a couple of things you should consider before an important online job interview to give your potential employer a good impression of yourself. Your preparation can ensure that you avoid last-minute technical issues, know how to appear well on camera, and, in the end, have a successful online job interview and nail it!

woman in an online job interview

1. Test settings and technology beforehand

First, familiarize yourself with all the equipment and software that you need. Most recruiters will send you a link to access the “interview room”, and you might need to download new software to do so. Besides this, the easiest way to test everything is to do a trial call with a friend: make sure that your microphone sounds crisp and clear, that it won’t make your voice croak and that your webcam is clean and gives a clear picture of you. If you are not satisfied with the sound or image, investing in a webcam or a better microphone might be worth it (and it will also be essential to test them, too!). Also, remember to check if your full name is visible so the recruiter can recognize your user before the online job interview. You could also log in a little early as you would arrive a few minutes early at a job interview in person.

2. Turn on the silent mode and choose a quiet location

The background noise during an online job interview can affect how well it can go. Try to sit in a room with the least amount of potential interruptions and, if you live with more people, tell them that you will have an important call and you can't be disturbed. Moreover, turn on the silent mode of your phone and computer so you avoid being interrupted by calls, messages or notifications.  

However, anything can happen during the online job interview. If you think there is a minimum chance that an interruption will occur, be upfront with the recruiter so it won't catch them by surprise. And if it happens, just try to remain calm, stay focused on the discussion and forget about it. 

Following this tip is crucial if you have a job interview for a remote position: the recruiter will see that you have already set up a dedicated space where you can work without interruptions. 

3. Dress to impress

Even though the interview is conducted remotely, you should always pay attention to your clothing. Some applicants do not take online job interviews too seriously or think that no other rules apply due to the casual atmosphere, but this is where you should be careful. Just dress as if you were going to your potential employer’s office (yes, avoid the pyjama pants!) and take a look at how your outfit appears on camera and if it’s aligned with their style and their culture. 

In addition, be mindful of the posture you are using during the interview: sit up straight and in front of the camera. With a proper posture, you will show professionalism, confidence and you will be able to communicate better. 

4. Create the right atmosphere

It is currently possible to choose different backgrounds for your call on platforms such as Zoom or Skype. Still, our recommendation is to either blur your background or check that what is behind you is appropriate for the online job interview. For example, avoid showing personal items or a messy space that can give a bad image of you. If you want to play safe, a neutral wall is always the best option!. Moreover, when testing your video before the interview, there are 2 more things to review regarding this matter:

  • Check that you are centred in the frame and that you sit at a proper distance, so your upper body is well visible, and it's not just a close up of your face. 
  • Natural light works best, even though that is not always possible, especially in winter. At all events, make sure that the light does not shine into the camera lens. Sit facing the light source to ensure that there won't be a distracting glare and that your recruiter will perfectly see you.
woman with a laptop

5. Simulate eye contact and consider the body language

Making or simulating eye contact during an online job interview is more complicated than you might think. But it's still possible! Place your camera at eye level, look into the camera lens as much as possible when talking, and avoid getting distracted by your own picture. Maintaining eye contact and nodding will show the recruiter that you are involved and listening attentively to the conversation, so also keep in mind your body language. Again, just act as you would during an in-person interview!

6. Make sure to have a glass of water

During a job interview, the recruiter usually offers you something to drink. However, when you are conducting the online job interview, you need to think about it yourself. Before your voice becomes dull or your mouth starts to get dry, which is quite normal in front of a situation where you feel nervous,  feel free to take a sip of water. Everyone understands this, and it's just natural and even part of the interview.

7. Take advantage of the secret benefits of an online job interview

A job interview is always nerve-wracking, but the familiar environment where an online job interview takes place (in a coworking space or from home) always makes a candidate feel more relaxed and comfortable. Additionally, anyone who often has a blackout in stressful situations can use the advantages of this kind of interview to execute some tricks. For example, prepare possible interview questions and their corresponding answers in bullet points, or create a list of those questions you want to ask the recruiter. You can put some sticky notes with these points on the wall behind your laptop, and if you happen to get a blackout, you can take a quick look at these notes. However, choose this trick with caution. The notes are just notes, some guidance for a particular situation, and you shouldn't read anything. Keep your tone natural, breathe and ask twice if you didn't completely understand the question or if you want to give yourself some extra time to think about the answer.

8. Do not let technical difficulties throw you off the track

With every online job interview, there may occur minor or significant problems. Keep a cool head and show your potential new employer how you deal with stressful situations. And, in case the connection is completely failing, do not panic. Our advice is to arrange a backup plan with the recruiter before the interview. Transitioning to a call, using another platform or rescheduling for a later time are possible solutions for technical issues. If the problem is outside your control, the recruiter will understand in the same way as you would also understand. 

Bonus: Smile, relax and enjoy!

Nerves are our number one enemy in any job interview. The previous minutes to the call, take a deep breath, try to relax and enjoy! If you remain calm, you will communicate confidently and show engagement in the conversation. You will give a positive impression to the recruiter, and you will learn from the experience for the next interview!

Man with his laptop smiling