How to Make a Good Impression in a Virtual Job Interview

Follow this guide to prep and perfect your video interview skills.

Guidance Provided By: The Handshake Team

There’s no question that for many job-seekers, interviewing is the most intimidating part of the process. But what if you could do it from the comfort of home? For many employers, virtual interviewing is the future—whether you live far away or need to interview remotely for another reason, video conferencing is an easy fix that many companies utilize when meeting candidates “face to face.” 

While video interviewing doesn’t allow for some tried-and-true methods for making a good impression, like giving a firm handshake, there are many ways to wow your potential boss from behind a screen. Simply follow this guide to prep and perfect your video interview skills. 

Prepare in advance 

Be sure to do your research on the employer ahead of time! Log into Handshake and check out their profile, read reviews from peers who’ve worked or interned there, and scope out recent news coverage of the organization for developments. The better equipped you are to ask thoughtful questions, the smoother your conversation will go throughout the interview.

Also use this time to review your resume and the job description, and consider how your past experience might help you exceed in the role. Having this information fresh in your mind will help you feel more confident during the video call.

Show up on time 

This is one of the easiest ways to start things off on the right foot: show up on time! While you don’t need to log on 15-minutes early like you would when arriving for an in-office interview, definitely enter the video chat promptly at the set start time. To ensure that everything goes smoothly, make sure that you’ve got the correct software loaded (if necessary), and consider a test call with a trusted friend to work out any kinks in your connection.  

Dress for success, even remotely

Make sure that you look polished and professional — at least up top. (The beauty of video calls is that nobody will know if you wear sweatpants with your Oxford shirt and tie!) Consider a button-up shirt or blouse, and be sure to groom just as thoughtfully as you would for an in-person meeting. Not only will this help you make a great impression with your interviewer, but wearing clothes that make you feel confident will also help you get your head in the game!

Think about your background

You probably wouldn’t invite your future boss over to your house if it were strewn with socks, right? So don’t let them see that on video! Find a clean, quiet area of your living space where you can take the call. Be sure to speak with any housemates in advance to ensure that nobody will walk behind you or make loud noises while you’re in the middle of discussing your professional strengths and weaknesses.    

Make “eye contact” with the camera

If it helps, consider putting some googly eyes next to your webcam to remind you to look directly at it throughout the call. This gives the appearance of making eye contact, not distractedly staring at your screen! Making eye contact, even if through a laptop, helps foster a sense of genuine connection and attentiveness; it can make all the difference when trying to hit it off with your interviewer. 

Stay focused and visibly engaged 

One way to show your interviewer that you’re motivated and engaged is by practicing active listening. Consider nodding your head to give affirmations of understanding while they talk, and asking clarifying questions when necessary. Also, take hand-written notes! Keep a notebook nearby so that you can jot down questions or key takeaways from the interview without having to disrupt the flow of the conversation with loud typing.

Don’t rely on a cheat sheet, but be prepared

If relevant, be prepared to share your portfolio or examples of work to your interviewer; keep some tabs at the ready and offer to share your screen if the topic comes up. Also, come to the interview with questions that you’d like to ask your interviewer. This shows initiative and genuine interest. (You can find some good examples for interview questions here.)

Remember to stay responsive after you wave goodbye

After you end your call, be sure not to “ghost” your interviewer. Download the Handshake app to ensure that you respond to recruiter messages promptly, and check your email at least twice per day to stay abreast of any outreach or next steps that might land in your inbox!

With these tips in your back pocket, you’ll have all the keys to succeed in your video interview. Now all you have to do is find the right opportunity! Check out this helpful advice for finding a job or internship online, and discover ways to make the most of a remote internship once you’ve got an offer. 

Tricks for Rocking Your Video Interview

Hiring managers may still meet applicants for face-to-face interviews, but there’s been a significant increase in companies opting to conduct video interviews, particularly in place of a phone screen. Video interviews—unlike phone interviews—give applicants the opportunity to demonstrate their enthusiasm and passion for a role and exude their personality through nonverbal communication or mannerisms. For example, nodding along or smiling in agreement with employers are behaviors that would be impossible to gauge over the phone.

Never experienced the thrill of a Skype interview? Here is a breakdown of the differences and similarities of video interviews and face-to-face interactions, as well as some tips on how to be successful.

What’s so different between face-to-face & video interviews?

The most obvious difference between video and face-to-face interviews is the use of a webcam. But, preparing for video interviews means more than just making sure your computer has a strong connection. You need to be aware of your surroundings and ensure that you remain the focus of the interview while keeping potential distractions to a minimum.

Distractions can take a variety of forms, from a roommate or pet walking around in the background to unprofessional or inappropriate wall art. Many of these distractions can be easily avoided (such as asking a roommate for privacy, keeping a pet in another room, or removing posters from the wall) while others may be out of your control (such as a car alarm that goes off in the street). If you aren’t comfortable conducting a video interview at home, identify friends or family who may have a more private space that you can borrow for the duration of your interview. Better yet, you can utilize one of the interview suites near the Loop Career Center, which provides a private office with minimal distractions. We’ll even set you up with a webcam if you don’t have one available to you. Just contact our Employer Relations department at recruitstudents@depaul.edu to check on space and webcam availability prior to your interview.

On the day of your interview, give yourself time beforehand to get your computer settings just right. This should include positioning the webcam at eye-level, and with enough space between you and the camera so that you aren’t too close or too far away from the screen. You should also find a setting that allows for picture-in-picture support, meaning that you can both see the employer who is interviewing you as well as keep an eye on how you are appearing to the employer. Finally, remember to look directly into the camera when answering interview questions; this will give the impression that you are making direct eye contact with the hiring manager.

What are the similarities?

Many tips that apply to face-to-face interviews are still important for video interviews. A big one is how you’re dressed; some people think they can dress more casually if they’re Skyping from home, or that they only need to wear professional attire from the waist up. In the case of the latter, imagine standing up at the end of the interview, forgetting the other half of you is sporting Star Wars pajama bottoms. You don’t want to nail the interview and have your—although very comfy—pajamas ruin it for you. Dressing professionally from head-to-toe will highlight your professionalism and can impact how you present yourself to employers; if you’re dressed more casually, you may revert to a more casual demeanor in the interview.

Similarly, many behaviors that would be considered inappropriate during a face-to-face interview should also be avoided during video interviews. While this may sound like common sense, the majority of stories we hear about applicants who are unsuccessful during video interviews tend to fall in this category. For example, an employer was put-off by an applicant who was chewing gum during her video interview. Another employer noted that the applicant was drinking coffee from a large mug, something that would be perfectly fine when Skyping with friends and family, but can seem too casual for formal interviews. To put it simply, if it’s something you wouldn’t do in a face-to-face interview, you shouldn’t be doing it in a video interview.

When it comes to the types of questions you will be asked, the good news is that this will be exactly the same as face-to-face interviews. Traditional, behavioral, and situational questions are the most common ones you’ll encounter regardless of how you’re being interviewed.

How can DePaul students prepare?

The best way to prepare for a video interview is to practice. InterviewStream is a resource that allows you to practice answering common interview questions via a webcam. It’s free to create an account, and there are thousands of questions to choose from pertaining to different industries and experience levels. Once you’ve completed your video interview, you can watch it or send it to your career advisor to receive feedback. Your career advisor can provide comments on your responses and body language, two things that employers will be assessing during an actual video interview.