How to Prepare for Your Online Interview

To say we’re in unprecedented times and experiencing a ton of changes might be an understatement especially if you’re on the hunt for a new job. Plus, you’re probably noticing a lot of changes in the usual job search process. 

One of which is interviews. As if they weren’t challenging enough, as we start transitioning into our new normal, online interviews may be something that is here to stay! From the countless zoom calls or even house party invites you have had, I’m sure you feel like you’re pretty experienced and prepared when it comes to online meetings, however, there are some important nuances for online interviews to ensure you interview effectively.  

Test Run for Tech Issues
You especially want to do a test run if you are using an application for the first time. And if that is the case, I would try scheduling a meeting with a friend to ensure that your microphone and camera are working just fine. You would be surprised how many times I have had a meeting with someone, and they couldn’t figure out why theirs was not working, even though they use those features through other applications. Most importantly, trying to troubleshoot during an interview is a poor way to start an interview and can chew up the precious time you were allotted—you want to spend as much time as possible showing off how awesome you are instead of dealing with avoidable tech problems.

Neutral Location
No matter how small your place is, there is usually a way to neutralize your background. Especially if you are using a laptop.

I have interviewed candidates in a children’s room, in front of fridges and one time a kettle even went off! Of course, these are never reasons to penalize someone, however, it does come off as unprofessional and the last thing you want to do is seem like you didn’t prepare or care enough to find a professional area to conduct your interview.  

Don’t fuss too much about making the area look like you hired an interior designer, you just want to neutralize it as much as possible, usually in front of a wall with some artwork (or even a plain wall) or comfortably at your dinner table or couch could work. 

Distraction-Free Zone
This is an obvious one, however, avoidable distractions seem to happen —often. You want to make sure you warn your family in advance that you will be having an interview and making no noise is mandatory. 

However, if you are in a scenario where there will be noise that you can not control, i.e. a crying baby or a barking dog, just give your interviewer the heads up. By giving them the hands up, if the distraction does occur, you will not come across as less professional simply because it was something they were expecting. Trust me, letting them know will go a long way!

Stand or Sit?
I often get asked, “Should I be sitting or standing during an online interview?” The answer is, it depends on your energy and nerves. 

If you are the type of person who gets really nervous during interviews, sitting down may help you feel more relaxed, and calm your nerves. However, if you are the type that may sound a bit monotone or quiet then you may want to stand up to increase energy and to better showcase your enthusiasm.

Pro Tip: If you are unsure which is better, do a practice interview in both scenarios, record and play it back and see which one sounds better. 

Dress the Part
This one is a must. Since we have been working from home now for months, we may have started to get more comfortable and have started wearing our joggers to meetings. While this may be acceptable with your current work colleagues, we still want to treat the interview like an old school face-to-face meeting.  

A suit and tie may not be necessary, but I do recommend business casual at the very least. This could mean a collared shirt or blouse and trousers or khaki pants for example.  

No business mullets! Be sure that the bottoms are business casual as well, you never know if you have to get up for some unforeseen reason so you would want to make sure you dress accordingly. 

Look at Your Interviewer (Not Yourself)
I am pretty sure we are all guilty of this one. You know, when you are staring at yourself the whole time instead of the person at the other end. Perhaps your interviewer will never even notice that you are not looking at them, however, this is more for your sake. You can even consider minimizing the screen with you in it so it helps you stay focused. By focusing on the other person and not yourself, you will be less critical of yourself and stay present. 

Pro Tip: Be sure to look at your camera once in a while too! This creates eye contact with your interviewer. It’s a subtle thing but it can make a difference. 

Bonus Pro Tip: You can try to resize the screen and place the interview near your camera. That way you’re looking at them and the camera at the same time. 

Don’t Forget to Smile
Being nervous is A-OKAY but remember to breathe and smile. Smiling during the first few seconds of your interview will tell the interviewer you are easy-going, enthusiastic and confident.
So show off those pearly whites ?

Practice. Practice. Practice.
It’s important to keep in mind that even though this interview is virtual, it’s still to be taken seriously. Don’t let the comfort of your home stop you from levelling up. All the usual preparation you put into in-person interviews needs to be done —and then some.  

There are loads of interview tips online however if you are feeling like it’s information overload, feel free to sign up to my mailing list and download my free Ace Your Next Interview workbook. 


With gratitude 🌹

Jen Rose Narayan, Career + Purpose Coach 

[email protected]