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Mastering the Virtual Interview

When COVID-19 became a household name in 2020, life changed immediately. Face masks became a must, we embraced shopping online, and personal space took on new meaning. And while many things will return to “normal” in the coming months, others are likely here to stay, such as the virtual interview.

Lauren Smith, vice president of the Gartner HR practice, says, “While most organizations are currently conducting interviews remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual interviewing may become the new standard for recruiting leaders and candidates long after social distancing guidelines are lifted. The most successful organizations provide candidates with the same level of information and feeling of connection with the organization as they would have with an in-person interview or onboarding experience.” 1

While there are many reasons to love virtual interviews – most notably, they save time and are often more relaxed – they also present unique challenges. That’s why it’s important to read up on the best practices that will help you shine from afar. If you have a virtual interview on the horizon, ensure you do the following:

Set the Scene

Before starting your interview, think about your backdrop. It’s best to use a quiet area with limited distractions (i.e. a space where your roommates or family members won’t walk by, there aren’t off-putting items on the walls, etc.). Sitting on your bed or couch doesn’t scream “professional,” so try to hold the interview at a desk with an office chair that encourages good posture.

Check your Technology

Don’t let tech problems impact your interviewer’s impression of you! Double check your camera, test your microphone, and jump into the interview portal a couple of minutes early to troubleshoot any issues that might arise. 

Ask Questions about the Office Environment

One of the pitfalls of virtual interviewing is you can’t see what the office environment is like. Normally, you would take in the noise level, office layout, and more to make informed decisions about how you would fit into the workspace. Because you don’t have this opportunity, it’s important to ask:

  1. How the company’s employees interact (face-to-face, via live chat, over the phone, etc.).
  2. What your work space will be like. Will you have your own office, a cube, or work in an open area?
  3. About the company’s culture.

Employ Standard Interview Tactics

Even though you are online, many in-person interview techniques still apply, such as:

  • Doing your Due Diligence: Familiarize yourself with the role you’re interviewing for, the company you’re interviewing at, and who your interviewers are.

  • Reviewing Sample Interview Questions: While you won’t be able to accurately anticipate every question that comes your way during the interview, you can review and practice responding to commonly asked sample questions.

  • Practicing your Elevator Pitch: During an interview you can be sure the following request will come your way: “Tell me about yourself.” This is an invitation to share your elevator pitch. It should include who you are, what you do, and what you want to achieve – all in relation to the job you are interviewing for. 

  • Dressing for Success: Just because you are interviewing at home, doesn’t mean it’s time to put on your loungewear. Ensure you look professional when in the camera frame.

  • Sending a thank you note: Regardless of whether your interview takes place remotely or in person, sending a thoughtful thank you note within 24 hours of your interview is a tried-and-true way to reiterate your interest in the position and make a great impression.

Wow your Potential Employers with Help from Computer Systems Institute!

There’s no two ways around it: job searching is HARD. According to Glassdoor, “On average, each corporate job opening attracts 250 résumés. Of these candidates, four to six will be called for an interview and only one will be offered a job.”2 You must use every competitive advantage at your disposal to stand out, including CSI’s career services. For help with all of your job search needs, such as preparing for a virtual interview, email careerservices@csinow.com.


1 “Gartner HR Survey Shows 86% of Organizations Are Conducting Virtual Interviews to Hire Candidates During Coronavirus Pandemic.” Gartner, 30 Apr. 2020, www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2020-04-30-gartner-hr-survey-shows-86–of-organizations-are-cond.

2 “50 HR & Recruiting Stats That Make You Think.” Glassdoor, 20 Jan. 2015, www.glassdoor.com/employers/blog/50-hr-recruiting-stats-make-think/.


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