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Ten top tips for online job interviews

22 September 2020

In these Covid-19 times, online job interviews are becoming the norm. If you’ve never done one before, they can feel pretty daunting. That’s natural. Interviews are nerve wracking enough, never mind with online platforms like Zoom or Skype thrown into the mix.

Here are 10 things you can do to help you feel prepared, as calm as possible and ready to shine in an online interview.

  1. Practise

    It’s easy to get complacent when you’ve become used to socialising via video chat, but an interview is different. It’s best to practice for an online one, just as you would for a face to face interview. Ask your friends or partner to be the interviewer and set up a video chat session. Rehearse answering questions you might be asked while you get to grips with the technology – especially if it is one you haven’t used before.


  2. Make some interview notes

    You can really benefit from being online by having some easy-to-see bullet point notes in front of your computer to act as reminders for questions you’re expecting. Put key points you want to emphasise on post-it notes in front of your computer. Keep a pen and paper to hand in case you need to make any notes during the interview about things to come back to.

  3. Find a quiet space

    When you’re in full flow ‘selling yourself’ mode, being interrupted can really throw you off guard. If it’s possible, choose an interview time when the people you live with are out. If that isn’t doable, could you ask them to try to be quiet for an hour or so while you do the interview? Or find a part of your home where you’re less likely to hear noise? If it’s possible, you could even go to another space, like a friend’s house, to do the interview.

  4. Think about how you’ll appear

    Are you dressed appropriately for the role you’re going for? Even though it’s an online interview, it’s best to show that you have thought about this. Wearing professional clothes will probably get you in the right mindset. Also, what will your interviewee see in your background? Choose a space that won’t be too distracting for them. You can record yourself on platforms like Zoom to check how you look and sound.

  5. Test the platform and your set-up

    Every organisation has their own preference for video chat. It’s worth testing the device you are planning on using with the platform you’ll be on for the interview. Some devices might work better with some platforms than others do. If you notice interruption, try asking others in the house not to use the internet while you are doing the interview and turn Wi-Fi on your phone off. You can also close all other applications on your computer. If you know your bandwidth is poor at home, could you do the interview somewhere else?

  6. Have technology back-ups

    Think about what you could do if you have problems with the technology during the interview. For example, you could try another device, like your mobile or tablet, or continue on your phone. If you can, agree on a back-up plan with your interviewer beforehand for if the connection goes.

  7. Use earphones

    Your device’s built-in speakers can sometimes be poor audio quality so using headphones could be a good idea. Some come with noise cancelling, which means the people you’re speaking to won’t hear any background noise. Do your research for which might work best for you.

  8. Make eye contact and think about body language

    During the interview, look at your device’s camera as much as possible rather than the picture of the interviewee. Then the interviewee will feel like you’re looking at them more directly. Remember to smile and nod when the interviewer speaks to show you are engaged. Sit up and act as you would during an in-person interview.

  9. Breathe and listen

    With delays and lack of face to face social cues, it can be easy to talk over people in video calls. It can’t be avoided sometimes, so try not to let it overwhelm you if this happens. Remember to breathe and that you don’t have to jump in with an answer straight away. You can pause, just as you might do in a face to face interview and consider your response.

  10. Go easy on yourself

    From dodgy connections to unexpected interruptions, you won’t have control over everything that happens in the online interview. Your interviewer will know this. After the call, write down three things you think went well and three you think you might do differently next time. This could help you to detach from the interview and move on.

    Just like face-to-face ones, online job interviews can feel so much better when you’re well prepared. Remember, that if this role isn’t the right one for you, there will be something else that comes along soon. Good luck!

This is part of our career series, helping you to level up and make the most of your potential.

Image: Lukas on Pexels

Trina Wallace

copywriter and editor, freelance

Trina Wallace is a copywriter, editor and communications consultant with around 14 years’ experience in the charity sector. She has worked with over 70 charities, including Cancer Research UK, Rethink Mental Illness, Alzheimer’s Society and Oxfam. Trina specialises in writing audience-focused communications that inspire people to take action.