Virtual Interview Guide: How to Appear Professional for a Virtual Interview
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Dressing for Success
Virtual meeting platforms are a great tool for conducting face-to-face meetings and interviews, particularly if you’re working remotely or not able to travel. The online interaction allows you to get a personal feel for the other party without being physically in the same place, and can increase efficiency in most cases.
Although it’s somewhat informal compared to an in-person interview, professional presentation is achievable, and if effected by how your dress and what your chosen setting looks like. Virtual interviews over platforms like Zoom, Skype and even FaceTime are more commonplace now, so knowing how to appear professional for interviews and meetings is vital to succeeding.
Lighting and Background
Being strategic about where you choose to conduct your virtual interview is just as important as what you say and how you dress. You’ll want to ensure everything is in working order before your interview time, such as checking the interviewer’s meeting information and having the link prepared in advance.
When choosing a background space, choose somewhere that has a good source of natural light, or somewhere you can position artificial light to highlight your self. Often times, finding a neutral wall or sitting in front of a window will give you the best lighting and background options.
However, if these options are not easily available to you, focus on finding somewhere private and not distracting to the viewer. You want your interviewer to focus on you, not your background. Avoid mirrors or other distracting elements that might draw attention away from you. Also ensure you are positioned within the middle of your frame and are not too large or small on the screen.
If you’re conducting your virtual interview from home, make sure your location is free of distractions and disruptions, including children, pets and other common household noises.
What to Wear for a Virtual Interview?
Dress for your virtual interview as you would for an in-person interview. This means wearing professional business attire such as a dress shirt and jacket, blouse or dress with a classic cut. In traditional virtual meetings, only your top half will be visible, so the choice of bottoms is not as important. However, it is recommended that you dress from head-to-toe anyway. It will make you feel as though you’re in a business setting and place you in a business state of mind. Try to mimic what you would do to prepare for an in person interview. Do your hair and makeup as you normally would for an interview, and don't wear distracting jewelry or ties.
Do not wear distracting jewelry or ties.
Conducting the Interview
Position yourself in front of your video camera a few minutes before the interview starts so can avoid awkwardly repositioning after you’re connected. A few other tips for making your interview a winner include:
- When you speak, look into the camera as much as possible, not at the screen, to give the impression of being eye-to-eye.
- Speak and enunciate clearly to make the best impression. In cases where internet connectivity may be an issue, this is especially important.
- When the interview is complete, allow the interviewer to sign off before you click a button or close your laptop.
- If you experience any type of technical difficulties, attempt to call back.
Try to be as natural as possible in your virtual interview. It’s fine to gesture and be animated as long as you aren’t moving in and out of the frame in a distracting way.
Just as you would in a traditional in-person interview, follow up your virtual interview with a letter of thanks to the interviewer.
- Show Interest - Reiterate your interest in the job,
- Add Value - Mention any topics you didn’t get a chance to address,
- Offer Answers - and offer to answer any questions not fully covered during your conversation.
If you don’t hear back within a week, reach out and touch base again to let them know you’re still interested in joining the team.
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Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.