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These days more and more businesses are conducting virtual interviews with potential employees. If you are looking for a job or apprenticeship you will likely be required to participate in an online interview.


What is an online interview?

An online interview is conducted through an online chat/video/audio platform such as Zoom.


Employers conduct online interviews using different methods, before your interview date ask the interviewer what kind of interview to expect. Find out if the interview will include audio, video or both.


The most common type of online interview is a video call. When arranging a video call, the interviewer will ask if you have the necessary equipment to participate in the interview. Most laptops have built-in cameras and microphones however, if you don’t have one the apps can be downloaded to most modern mobile phones. A date and time will be scheduled for the video call to take place.


Preparing for your interview

Preparation is key for any interview whether it’s face to face or online.

  • Familiarise yourself with the platform that the interviewer will be using, before your interview schedule a test call with a friend or family member. Make sure your microphone and speakers are working
  • Research the company and what the job/apprenticeship is
  • Look at the company website and get an understanding of what they do and their culture and values
  • Go through CV or application form and prepare examples to show you have the skills and attributes the employer is looking for
  • Prepare some questions for the end of the interview



You will need a quiet room with no interruptions. If there will be others at home you should let them know the time of the interview and ask them to be quiet! You should also make sure no pets are in the room with you while the interview is taking place.

Find somewhere to sit that has a plain background that won’t be distracting to the interviewer, we’ve all watched an interview on the news and all you can do is look at what books they have on the bookshelf behind them!


If you can’t find a suitable place, you may be able to use the background blurring or background image feature that come with some software, Just make sure to choose a neutral background, a professional background will show the interviewer that you are serious about the interview, nobody wants to see the holiday snap background you added as a joke during a friends get together…

Make sure there is good natural light or use a lamp so the interviewer can you see you clearly on screen.

Where possible use a laptop rather than a tablet or mobile phone, position it so that camera is at eye level, the use of headphones will also improve the sound quality.



Getting ready!

You may be at home but it’s still a job interview! Even though you are not meeting the interviewer in person it is still important to dress professionally, wear something clean and conservative you wouldn’t wear your pyjamas to a face to face interview so you shouldn’t for an online interview either!


Go for something plain that doesn’t look distracting on camera, no slogan tops!


Keep jewellery to a minimum and avoid anything that might distract you or be noisy when you move.


Have a notebook and pen within reach of your computer in case you need to refer to questions you want to ask or points from your CV/application form or make a note of anything. Make sure it doesn’t divert your attention during the interview though!



The interview

Make sure your equipment is plugged in or charged and your internet connection is good. Log in at least half an hour before your interview so you can check everything is working properly.


To avoid distractions, close any other applications you may have open and turn off your mobile phone.


If during your interview you start to experience technical problems, let the interviewer know, don’t try to muddle through, it’s better to stop and restart than pretend everything is ok.


Make sure during the interview you:

  • Make eye contact – Eye contact during an online interview is more difficult than you think! You need to focus your gaze directly at the camera and not the interviewers (or your own) face. Making eye contact and nodding will show the interviewer that you are involved and listening attentively.


  • Relax – Take a deep breath before the interview starts and try to remain calm, if you are able to communicate confidently with the interviewer you are far more likely to leave a lasting positive impression than if you appear nervous and distracted.


  • Consider your body language – It’s much harder to read body language during an online interview so you need to mindful of your nonverbal behaviour. Sit up straight and act how you would if the interview was face to face. You will be unable to shake hands at the end of the interview so you will need to show your professionalism and good manners in other ways, thank the interviewer for their time and say you look forward to hearing from them.


  • Speak clearly – Don’t talk too fast and pause at the end of a question so that you don’t speak over the interviewer, there is sometimes a slight delay when online!



Read more: Nonverbal Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples


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