How to Prepare for an Online Job Interview

With the development of technology, along with the pandemic, it’s oftentimes more cost-effective, convenient, and safe for employers to perform online job interviews. Online interviews speed up the interview process, reduce transportation costs, and allow companies to interview candidates not local to the area. If you’re looking for a job, you may be asked to participate in a virtual interview. This guide will help you learn how you should prepare for an online interview.

Key Differences Between a Traditional In-Person Interview and an Online Interview

There are some main distinctions between traditional in-person meetings and online interviews. You may already know how to prepare for an interview, but a virtual interview has some quirks all its own. And, you should definitely be prepared for things like:

  • Recording answers to interview questions instead of having a live conversation with the employer on the other end of the interview, depending on the type of virtual interview you’re participating in.
  • Being responsible for half the interview environment setting. Instead of interviewing in an office setting that’s already prepared, half the setup is now your responsibility and you need to take that seriously.
  • Providing half the technology that’s used in the interview process, whether that’s a computer or your smartphone, camera, microphone, or something else to facilitate the process.

How Should You Prepare for an Online Interview?

Here are some important ways to prepare for your upcoming job interview:

Decide on the Best Technology to Use

If you have several devices (i.e. tablet, computer, smartphone, etc.), you’ll want to choose which one you’re most comfortable with as well as the one that will be the most reliable. For many individuals, this would be a computer. If necessary, you might need to invest (or borrow) the ideal technology you’ll be using for the interview.

Test the Technology Out Beforehand

Make sure you test all the different aspects of the technology you’ll be using such as testing your:

  • Sound
  • Camera
  • Lighting
  • Internet connection
  • Video program

Ensure you have the right knowledge of how it all works. Before the interview begins, test it all out again.

Decide on the Location

Choose the location where you’ll perform your interview prior to your scheduled interview time. Preferably, this should be a quiet room with no distractions and minimal background noise. Ensure you have the right type of lighting (natural lighting is best) and there’s nothing distracting behind you. Ask your housemates ahead of time to not disturb you and shut all pets out of the area you’ll be doing your interview. You might even want to invest in a professional backdrop, which shows your interviewer you’re serious about the interview.

Prepare Your Clothing

If you’re new to being on camera, you should assess the clothing you’re going to wear during the interview through the lens to ensure it works well on video. Put the clothing you plan on wearing during the interview on and record yourself. Things to keep an eye out for are:

  • Horizontal lines
  • Sparkly jewelry
  • Complex patterns

These things can be distracting. Tightly striped patterns, in particular, can create a strobe effect. Also, what you plan to wear should contrast with the background (you don’t want to appear as a “floating head”).

Prepare Your “Priority Talking Points”

Come up with a list of key points before the interview you’ll want to go over during the interview. For example, what do you want the recruiter or hiring manager to specifically know about you after the completion of the interview?

Prepare Your Online InterviewQuestions and Answers

While you will want to have some answers prepared for common interview questions, you’ll also want to come up with a few questions of your own. Some examples are asking the hiring manager about:

  • Job requirements
  • The typical workday
  • Expectations for the first 50 days, first 100, first year
  • What they think of the company

Some candidates want to jump into salary and benefit questions in the initial interview, but that isn’t always a good idea if you’re trying to sell yourself for a position. Your questions should make it so the interviewer will be sharing additional information regarding what they expect from ideal candidates. This can help you in the next interviewing stage.

Prepare Your Workspace

Clear away any clutter in your workspace that’s behind you so it isn’t showing up on the screen. Clutter can cause distracting visual noise or make it appear to the interviewer that your space is disorganized which could give them an impression of what you’ll be like as an employee.

Eliminate Distractions

Silence things that can interfere and disrupt your conversation, including any email or phone notifications. Silence your phone so you’re not interrupted by phone calls.

Schedule a Mock Interview

Schedule a mock interview that’s as close to the same circumstances as the interview will be with:

  • A friend
  • A family member
  • A colleague

Calm Your Nerves

Practice your primary talking points if you feel anxious or nervous. It’s too easy to talk over others when you’re doing online calls, so remember to slow down. While your interview will be hosted online, it can’t hurt to go over traditional in-person skills. Don’t stress over it. Take a few deep breaths before your interview begins.


What to Do During Your Online Job Interview

Here are some key tips of what to do during your online job interview:

Look Directly into the Camera

One of the most important things as far as what to avoid during an online interview has to do with the camera. You may be tempted to look at yourself or the monitor, but remember you’ll need to look straight into the camera, so you’ll be making eye contact with the interviewer.

Remember Your Nonverbals

Smile when appropriate. Maintain good posture; perhaps lean in a little bit. Do some research on nonverbal cues in job interviews beforehand. Don’t fidget, yawn or slouch. Some online interview software allows the interviewer to rewind. This means they can view your bad moments over and over. On the plus side, it also means they can view your positive moments again, too.

Be Conversational

Just like you would in an in-person interview, speak in a conversational voice.

Have Notes Handy

As with other interview situations, you could have notes near you to remind you of crucial things you wish to highlight. But don’t overuse notes. It’s okay to glance at them from time to time when needed and they’ll keep you on track.

Pause Between Questions

When you’re responding to the interviewer’s questions, take a couple of seconds before you respond to answer their question. This helps you consider their question carefully before answering and keeps you from talking over the interviewer.


What to Do After Your Online Job Interview

After your interview, you’ll want to send the interviewer a thank you note. You can do this through an email or physical card, depending on the situation. Wait several days after the interview and if you haven’t heard back from the interviewer, reach out to them. Always thank them for their time.


To help you prepare for your new career, consider an MBA degree from the Gary W. Rollins College of Business of The University of Tennessee Chattanooga. Here you’ll be offered the best education to prepare you the right way for success as an entrepreneur or professional.

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