Online interviews: mind your ITs and Qs

30 Jun 2015

You have an online interview lined up and you’re not sure how to prepare for it. When you break it down, virtual interviewing isn’t all that different to meeting face-to-face, but there are a few key things to remember.

You will still need to prepare. Research the employer, know your CV, dress professionally and have several questions ready to ask your potential employer. Keep in mind, a video interview carries as much weight as an interview conducted in person, so you will want to make sure that you’re well prepared to interview remotely.

The tech part

Make sure you’re familiar with the platform on which the interview will be conducted — Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangout, Webcam, Sonru, or Interview Vision, for instance. It is crucial to familiarise yourself with the interview software so that there aren’t any issues on the day.

Once you’ve established what platform you will be interviewing on, choose your most reliable device — your laptop, iPad or desktop computer. Test, test and test again! You need to make sure that your connection is stable and that you are ready to tackle any unexpected network issues. On the day, have a final check several hours before the interview and remember to  angle your device at head level, making sure that you are in frame from the waist up.

Keep your device connected to power throughout the interview. And, if you experience a technical glitch, don’t panic. Keep your cool. The interviewer might still be able to hear and see you clearly.

Dress to impress

Dress as you would for a personal meeting, but remember that some colours and patterns work better online than others. Avoid anything that’s too bright or colourful. Wearing a white shirt or top against a white background is also not the best idea.

You may have to stand up during your interview if something should fall, so be sensible – you don’t want to be caught in an embarrassing situation! An appropriate wardrobe also helps to keep your mind in a professional mode.

The visual part

If you are new to virtual interviewing, it can be very helpful to set up a mock interview with someone you trust. Ask a friend or colleague to do a mock interview across the platform you will be using. This helps you become familiar with how it works and how you come across on video.

Make sure the background for your interview is professional. It is best to organise a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed. This includes turning all other devices to silent and switching off sound on any programmes or applications. If you are interviewing from home and have any pets, it would be best to keep them outside of the room.


Now that you’ve prepped everything, you just need to put it into practice on the day. It is important to look directly at the camera and not your screen. This ensures that you are making good eye contact, which you would do in an office meeting.

Keep your posture upright. Just because you are interviewing over the internet doesn’t mean that you can be slack. Professional interviewers and recruiters are immediately aware of a person’s body language and your posture is an important part of that.

If you are using hand gestures, as a lot of people would naturally do, keep them to a level that enhances what you are saying, as opposed to over-exaggerating things.

Before responding to questions, it is generally best to take a second and then speak very clearly. This is especially useful over weak connections, which unfortunately can happen.

Remember to be relaxed and natural. Speak as though you are in the same room as your interviewer. It can be difficult to do sometimes, but it does make a difference.


When you have finished your interview, your interviewers may give you time to ask any questions. It often happens that a successful interview resembles an engaging business conversation, and you’ve already had some of your questions answered. Ask one or two questions at the very end and be concise.

It’s also a good idea to summarise your understanding of the role and the impact you can have.

Your interviewer will confirm to you the next step of the process, so take note of it.

Thank them and allow them to end the connection.

Follow up

It is always a good idea to send a follow-up email, or a message on LinkedIn, expressing your appreciation for the interview and asking any outstanding questions. Make sure your interest translates and you come across as professional, polite and motivated.

If you don’t hear back by the allotted time, follow up.

Whether you are successful or not in securing the particular role, interviews are a good opportunity to interact with people, grow your network and get better for next time.

If you are successful, congratulations! If not, ask for feedback — it is key to remaining aware of your strengths and weaknesses, and being able to tackle the latter is what will make you succeed next time.

Aisling Fogarty

Aisling Fogarty is an IT Recruitment Consultant at Hays Recruitment.

Laptop image, via Shutterstock

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