The Expat Woman

9 Tips to Prep and Look Your Best for a Virtual Job Interview

With social distancing still in place and many recruiters and hiring managers working remotely, job interviews for the foreseeable future will most likely continue to be conducted online.  There are both pros and cons to virtual interviews. 

Pros include opportunities to interview with companies in other cities, states or countries without having to travel, calling in from the comfort of your home, and having control of your environment so you look and sound your best.

The cons can include having to depend on technology, finding a suitable location in your home, and learning how to use the virtual video platform.

We have put together a list of 9 tips to help you prepare and look your best and make a job-winning impression at your virtual interview.


1) Test Your Device and Connection

Download the software for the online platform in advance on the device you will be using if you don’t have it installed yet. Test your microphone and webcam to make sure they work. Also check if your internet connection is stable. If possible set up a hotspot from your phone as a backup. It’s best to shut down all programs running on your device before the interview as large programs can slow down your computer.


2) Do a “Dry Run” Mock Interview

It may be helpful to do a practice interview with a friend or family member to familiarize yourself with the technology and test your equipment before the interview. You can also see and get feedback on how you look and sound online and practice answering interview questions. Platforms like Zoom have an option to record a meeting, so you could record your mock interview and then review it.


3) Create a Professional Background

Try to find a place in your home, preferably with a neutral background. Make sure the room is clutter-free and does not have any inappropriate artwork, messaging or items. Your goal is to mimic the setting of an in-person interview. Keep a minimum of three feet between the back of your head and the wall behind you, so you don’t blend into the background and flatten your shot. Also if using Zoom, avoid using a virtual background as that can be distracting.


4) Look Into the Camera

Find the camera on your device and position yourself so your eyes are level with it.  Put a sticky note with an arrow or with the words “look here” next to the camera, so you look at the camera during your interview. Avoid checking out your image or the interviewer’s face on your screen. 


5) Master the Lightning

Lighting plays a key role on how you look on screen. Find a room with either natural light from a window or a good electric light source so your face is clearly visible. 

However, strong backlight (light coming from behind you) whether from a window, a door, or an electric light can overpower the camera, (called a “washout effect”) create unflattering shadows, and make it hard for the interviewer to see your face. It’s best to have a light facing you and behind your webcam or camera.

If you have the budget, it’s worth investing in a ring light. You could use it for additional interviews and online meetings once you get hired. Ring lights like the Neeweer Ring Light and the Fauna Ring Light come highly recommended on Amazon. They are inexpensive and look great on camera. 


6) Minimize Distractions and Interruptions

Set your device up in a quiet place without interruption from roommates, family members or pets. If you can let your pet outside, do so. If not, make sure they can’t enter the interview room. Let roommates and family members know ahead of time when you have your call, and remind them to keep it down and stay out of a certain area. 


7) Creating the Right Sound

The importance of good, clear, sound cannot be downplayed. Turn off the ringer on your phone and any notifications that have a sound on your device before your interview

It’s best to wear headphones to cut off external noise that you have no control of like kids playing in the yard, barking dogs, sirens etc. There’s a chance there could be a lag, which causes an echo if you’re not wearing headphones. It helps to stay focused and  improves the audio quality immensely. There are many options out there like Apple AirpodsOneOdio Over the Ear Headphones, Sony Wireless On Ear Headphones, or Sony’s Ear Buds.


8) Dress for Success

Even though you may be in your bedroom, and the temptation to roll out of bed and show up in sweats may be overpowering, make sure you dress from top to toe for the interview like you would for any other important, in-person interview.  This will make you feel more confident and also conveys your commitment to professionalism. Wear solid colors but avoid distracting colors like white or flashy colors like red or bright yellow or a color too similar to your background.  Also clothes with stripes or patterns can moiré and distort the video.

You could check out the company’s Instagram or LinkedIn to get a sense of its culture and dress one step above it. For example, if everyone is wearing casual clothing at work, wear business casual in your interview.


9) Makeup and Jewelry 

If you normally wear makeup, you can apply it a little more heavily for the camera, partly to reduce the shine from the lights. 

Also, avoid wearing distracting jewelry. Big hoops or a large necklace or pendant could catch the light and draw attention away from your responses. 

If you tend to gesture and use your hands a lot while speaking, you may also want to avoid wearing bracelets that could jingle and distract your interviewer.


We hope these tips will help you ace your virtual interview and get hired. Many of these tips can also be used for any online meeting.



Nyna is the Founder and CEO of The Expat Woman, a global platform focused on connecting, supporting and empowering women who have moved abroad or plan to relocate. She is also a LinkedIn coach, consultant, trainer and speaker. LinkedIn played a huge role in my professional journey abroad, helping me build a network of powerful expat women and allies.

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