Interview Prep 101: How to prepare for an online interview

Written by Eleni Sakaj

Talking about living in unprecedented times is an understatement, especially if you are on the hunt for a new career challenge. You are probably noticing a lot of changes along your path of pursuing a new role.

One of them is interviewing. As if interviews weren’t challenging enough, online interviewing may be something that is here to stay!

This new normal involves countless Microsoft Teams or Zoom meetings, online Friday drinks, pub quizzes, online assessments and tests. However when it comes to online meetings, there are some nuances that you can  follow to ensure a smooth online interviewing experience.

Choose a neutral location

No matter how small or big your apartment is, there can always be a way to neutralize your background by eliminating visual and auditory distractions.

The past couple of months I have been interviewing candidates in their children’s room, a messy attic and in the kitchen while you could hear the kettle boiling. Of course, these are not a reason to penalize someone, but you can come across even more professional with a neutral background such as a simple painting or even a white wall.

Do a test run for tech issues

If you are using a video calling application for the first time, make sure that you spend some time testing it to ensure that everything runs smoothly. If you haven’t used your camera and microphone for a while, try scheduling a meeting with a friend or a family member to test that everything works properly.

Another thing to take care of in advance is your internet connection. If, even after checking that everything works properly, you still encounter technical difficulties during the interview, keep your cool and try to calmly troubleshoot in the moment, even by providing alternatives. This can be a powerful way to show how you show up under stressful situations.

Create a distraction free zone

Warn your family or roommates in advance that you will be having a job interview. In case a noise that you can not control comes up like a crying baby, a barking dog or the fuzz from construction work, inform your interviewer in advance. Proactive information can create a smoother approach on that unwanted noise and your interviewer will appreciate the fact that you were forthcoming.

Take care of your body language

Non-verbal communication can speak louder than words especially during an online interview where the interviewer does not have a full image of you and your essence. Some things to keep in mind would be:

Your facial language:

  • Smile during your conversation and during appropriate moments
  • Nod when you are listening
  • Do not try and wink or pull a face during an interview
  • Avoid frowning
  • Make a regular amount of eye contact (looking at their video if on a video call)
  • Don’t look down when talking
  • When on a video call, avoid looking at yourself too much, look at the interviewers

Your body language:

  • On a video call, it’s perfectly fine to wave hello.
  • Sit up straight and avoid moving your position drastically during the interview
  • Don’t hunch over
  • Avoid crossing your arms as this may make others feel you are closed off or dishonest
  • Avoid leaning in too close if you are on a video call (or in person!)

Dress up The part

Since working from home or spending more time at home, we have all been getting more comfortable in showing up to meetings with our joggers or yoga pants. While this can be acceptable for your current or previous employer, choosing a classic business casual for a job interview is appreciated. 

While adapting to a new normal can seem challenging or even scary, it’s important to focus on the things we can control. All of these tips for your next online interview are tiny changes that will make a huge impact on how you are perceived.