Ace your virtual interview (plus examples of interview questions and answers)
In the world of online work and remote employment, it’s no surprise that virtual meetings are being used in every facet of the business. Recruitment especially has been transformed by remote interviews, making the process easier and more efficient. However virtual interviews require updated skills, so we’re here to help you with a few tips for your virtual interviews.
In this post, we are going to help you with:
Virtual interview tips: How to make a great first impression
So, how do you make a great first impression on a virtual interview?
First, it’s all about preparation. Nothing ruins a first impression more than looking confused or unprepared. So take some time to use the platform and tools prior to the meeting. Sign in to your Zoom, Google Meets or Skype well in advance and familiarise yourself with the features.
If you’re nervous about tech, practice with your equipment like headphones, microphones and webcams.
Also never be late and always confirm the time and date to make sure you arrive on time. Make use of a calendar tool that will remind you beforehand and ensure to exchange contact details with the interviewer just in case anything does go wrong.
1. Set up your space carefully for a virtual interview
Next, you want to set up a space that both looks and feels good.
Make sure you also have a quiet space where you won’t struggle to hear or be heard, so avoid crowded coffee shops for example.
You also want to make sure the space feels good for you, so try to get good lighting and fresh air coming in. Even pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea – anything that smells good and makes you feel comfortable.
– Have a clean background space
Try to keep your background neutral and tidy – clear away any overly personal items, close cupboard doors and make sure it’s clean. Backgrounds with plants and books generally give off a good feel.
– Do a Wifi Speed test
Another consideration is your Wifi speed and strength. Make sure your connection is stable and strong so that you don’t get cut off or struggle to hear the interviewer. You want the experience to be as seamless as possible and glitchy WiFi is sure to interfere with that. A simple Google search of “test my wifi speed” will take you to a tool to run a quick test. The results will indicate whether your connection will be able to handle video calls, voice calls, downloads, uploads etc.
– Make sure you have good lighting
Good lighting is important too. Not only for yourself but to ensure the interviewer can see you. A dark room with poor lighting can look unprofessional. Simply sitting by a window or having a ring light can help make you look fresher and more energetic.
– Plan what you will wear
Even though this is a virtual interview, it’s still important to dress professionally. While we’ve all become used to business-on-the-top, pyjamas-on-the-bottom, this can be risky for an interview. Try dress business smart all over as this will not only affect your body language and confidence but also reduces the risks of any accidental on-camera tracksuit pants.
Also, make sure you have researched or asked about the dress code expectations. Some companies will expect you to be more formal than others, depending on their culture. However if you’re unsure always err on the smart side – you can never go wrong with a shirt and blazer.
2. Be aware of your body language and non-verbal cues during the interview
Another factor to consider is how you hold your body during interviews. During virtual meetings, our body language and non-verbal cues can be read differently. Our posture, eye contact and tone can all be off simply because it’s through a screen.
So what should you keep front of mind when having your online interview?
– Not to look at yourself – focus on the interviewer’s face
It can be tempting to look at yourself in the camera, checking for flyaway hairs or just out of comfort, but it’s important you make “eye contact” with your interviewers. Don’t look directly into the camera as that can seem a bit aggressive, but rather focus on your interviewer’s faces as this will give you the impression of speaking directly to them.
– Use some hand gestures
Often when in an online interview, only the top half of your torso can be seen so we have limited ability to use our body language. Try to use hand gestures to bring your speech to life without covering your face or mouth when speaking.
Try not to lean on your hands when not speaking, but sit up straight and place your hands in a comfortable position.
– Monitor your speaking pace so you are not too fast or slow
Another tip for virtual interviews is to try to monitor your speaking pace. When we’re nervous, whether face-to-face or virtual we tend to speak too fast or slow. Try practising your speaking speed and record yourself prior to the interview. Listening back to yourself will help you adjust to a steady speaking pace.
– Show excitement in your face and body
As previously mentioned, when virtual there is limited scope for body language. So try to use your face to communicate excitement or enthusiasm. Maintaining a straight posture will communicate enthusiasm and nodding or signalling agreement will show that you are listening and engaged.
– Don’t perform monologues (Stay on topic)
Listen carefully to each question, and try to identify what exactly the interviewer wants to know. It’s great to give a bit of background information to your answers or contextualise a response but keep it brief and to the point. Include only relevant information and try not to go off on a tangent too much. You can use phrases like “to provide some context” to help the interviewer understand why you are saying something. You can also provide relevant examples to help illustrate past successes or skills.
– Keep calm & Smile
And lastly, don’t panic – while virtual interviews can be nerve-wracking, have confidence in your skills and abilities. Take a few deep breaths before the virtual interview starts to help calm your mind and body. Don’t feel the need to rush into answers either, take a few moments to consider your responses. And don’t forget to smile!
3. Practice and prepare what you want to say in the interview beforehand
Most interviews will include similar questions about your career history, strengths, weaknesses etc. So this gives you a chance to prepare and practice what you would like to say. You will probably have a similar response that you use across interviews, but it’s important that you adapt them to meet the specific requirements of the job and company.
It can be a good idea to film yourself delivering answers and then watching it back to improve on your delivery, speaking pace or what you are saying. This will also help you notice how often you say things like “like”, “um” and “ah”.
4. Have some questions prepared for during and after the interview
As important as it is to prepare your answers, it’s also crucial that you prepare some questions. Questions are a great time to prove your interest and insight. Do thorough research on the company prior to your virtual interview and come up with a few questions about the company, the role and the team you might be working in.
Common interview questions and answers for remote jobs
So what are some common questions that might be asked in a virtual interview? Let’s explore some now.
– What excites you most about this role and our team?
Interviewers like to ask this question to establish your motive for applying for the position. They want to see that you have done the research and can give them specifics on their company:
- Answering this question with a comment on their company culture or values is a good start. This shows that you are interested in more than just the money and would be a good fit socially and professionally. For example, “I’m very excited to work in such an innovative team that is bold and courageous in their ideas. I believe I can contribute my creativity and curiosity to the projects in the role as strategic lead.”
– Tell me about a time you disagreed with management about a process. What did you do?
This question helps to show hirers how you manage conflict and challenges. They don’t necessarily want to see that you never have had a disagreement, but rather about how you bring solutions to the table.
- “In a previous role, I disagreed with my supervisor about how we should be managing the timesheets of the team. I believed we should be tracking only billable time and she believed we should track all work time. In the end, we both agreed to research the benefits of each other’s points of view and bring our findings to the next meeting. In the end, we came to a resolution that client-facing staff need to track only billable time while internal staff like HR and finance should track all their time.
– How do you stay productive and organised while working remotely?
A factor like time management is very important in some companies, especially in those where time is money. Most companies have their own systems around how they manage their teams, and so they want to establish whether your systems are compatible, how flexible you are and whether you demonstrate autonomy.
- Give specific examples of how you stay productive and organised and mention different methods that you use. You want to appear responsible yet flexible.
- “ When working from home my roommates and I each have our own private working spaces so as to not distract each other. I also find I am most productive in the mornings, so I like to get up early and get a head start on the day with the most important tasks. In the afternoons I tend to spend on administrative tasks as I am less creative then. This also gives me an opportunity to organise my tasks for the following day. Most days I also do 30 minutes of yoga after lunch to keep my brain active.
– What is your process for overcoming problems or barriers in your work?
At work challenges are inevitable, but how we deal with them can make or break not only our own success but that of our team too. Hirers want to see that you are solution-oriented rather than only diagnostic.
- Give an example of a time you overcame a problem
- Demonstrate teamwork and collaboration
- Highlight your ability to listen and learn
– What’s your experience working with teams across different time zones?
If your company is international, they will want to see that you are flexible to attend meetings outside of your traditional working hours on occasion. It’s fine to set boundaries here if you have them, like childcare for example, but don’t be too strict.
- I have had the privilege of working with diverse teams across a number of time zones in my previous role. In this role, we were all afforded semi-flexi hours to accommodate for childcare and time zones. We all had to be available between 11 am and 4pm every day for client meetings and team collaboration, but outside of those hours, we could work asynchronously. I have two young children so having the flexibility to work around meal times and school drop-offs was great! Being an early riser I took advantage of the flexi hour system to get in a couple of hours of work before they woke up.
– What skills and traits do you consider to be essential to successful remote work?
Here they want to see that you are a seasoned remote worker and understand the challenges and benefits. Be authentic to your own experience, and even feel free to mention which skills you think you might still need to work on. Some skills might be:
Other common interview questions you should plan for in advance:
- Your salary expectations
- Current notice period/ start date
- Career history
- Technical questions related to your job
Follow up afterwards
Once your virtual interview is over, it’s good practice to follow up afterwards. You can thank the interviewer for their time and follow up on any action that was requested. It’s also good to establish by when you expect to hear back from them, this way you know what to expect and by when.
They might say “if you don’t hear from us by x date, consider your application unsuccessful.” alternatively they might say “You will definitely hear from us by Thursday either way.”. That way if you haven’t heard from them you can contact them on the Friday to follow up.
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