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Virtual interviews

Virtual interviews

Have a virtual interview? Learn how to shine in a phone or video job interview.

Many job interviews are now taking place over video or phone. Virtual interviews are similar to in-person interviews in many ways, but also have important differences. Use the tips below to help prepare for success.

General interview tips

  • Fully review the job description and any additional information you have about the job.
  • Research the employer by visiting their website and getting familiar with the scope of their business and their branding and goals.
  • Consider exactly how your qualifications relate to the organization and the position.
  • Write out your answers to common interview questions and be sure to illustrate your strengths with examples from your work experience, volunteering, or education experience.

Learn more about common interview questions and other general interview preparation.

Phone or video interview tips

  • How it will work. The employer will e-mail a video conference link, text a phone number to call, or simply schedule a time when they will contact you using a video conference or audio conference system. For video calls, typically you and the interviewer will be able to see each other.
  • Pre-recorded video interviews. The pre-recorded interview is gaining broader use during the pandemic. You will be instructed to record your voice or video answers to interview questions provided by the employer. Recordings are later reviewed by a human resources staff member, so while it may be awkward at the time, it’s important to convey the same energy and enthusiasm you would if speaking to a live person. One advantage: If you feel that your answers could be improved on, you may be able to re-record your responses before submitting them.
  • Equipment and space needs. For most video interviews, you will need a laptop or desktop computer with audio and video capability, stable Internet service, and a quiet space to meet. Phones or tablets may be sufficient. If you need computer equipment and/or private meeting space, your local American Job Center may be able to help, and your local library may also have space you can reserve for an interview.
  • Do several practice runs. If you can, start by having someone practice-interview you by phone or video. Practice speaking clearly, using natural hand gestures, and keeping your answers concise and meaningful. Pay attention to how you can communicate enthusiasm and energy with upright posture, eye contact, head nods and smiles—it often takes a little more effort to show your enthusiasm via phone or video than in person. Record yourself so you can review your performance.
  • Prepare your environment. Test out lighting and pay attention to your background. Avoid having open closet doors, piles of clothing or papers, or other distractions in your background. Check the lighting to make sure your interviewer will be able to see you clearly. Close extraneous applications and browser tabs, and mute notifications on your devices. Remind everyone in your household to not disturb the interview.
  • Dress for success. It’s just as important to appear professional in a video as it is in person. Experts recommend avoiding patterned shirts as they can distract more readily on video. Consider wearing a plain colored top, and the same type of slacks or skirt that you would wear to an in-person interview.
  • Minimize technical glitches. Try to sign into the video conferencing system as early as you can and test the connection if possible. Check out your computer audio and video to ensure they are fully operational and your Internet connection is sound and stable. Unmute audio and video on your screen when the meeting is ready to start. Make sure your phone and/or computer are fully charged. If you’re going to need a password, save it in an easy-to-reach spot.
  • Maintain eye contact. It’s fine to keep a copy of your resume or some brief notes handy so you can refer to them, but remember to look at and engage with your interviewer as much as possible. Depending on the location of your camera, you may appear to be looking away if you focus on the interviewer; instead focus on your video camera to keep eye contact. Do not look at a phone or device other than the interview device.
  • Ask about workplace safety. During the pandemic, workplace safety is more important than ever. If you have any concerns about working conditions or safety, ask how the employer handles social distancing, what their work-from-home policies are, or how employees and customers (if relevant) will be protected.
  • Troubleshooting. Keep in mind that all is not lost if you have interruptions or equipment failures. It can even be an opportunity to demonstrate your cool head under stress. Once you and the interviewer connect, ask for their phone number so that you can continue the conversation if technical issues occur. If you remain connected and have an issue, ask for a moment to resolve the issue, mute your audio and video to address it, then resume the conversation with a brief apology and a positive attitude.