Preparing for virtual interviews
Virtual interviews require the same level of preparation and investment as face-to-face interviews when considering research, commercial awareness, interview examples and questions you might have for the employer at the end.
However, there are some differences when preparing for virtual interviews, specifically your technology set up, camera angles, background and whether it is a pre-recorded video interview or a live Zoom, Teams, Skype or Google Hangouts interview. Always clarify if the interview is pre-recorded or a face-to-face live interview.
Two types of virtual interviews: what to expect?
These are conducted through online platforms such as Sonru, HireVue, Launchpad Recruits or Interviewstream. Depending on the video software used, it will vary but ultimately you will be presented with a number of questions and your answers will be timed anywhere between 1-2 mins.
For most interviews they offer the opportunity to practice 1-2 questions before you start the official interview and you may have some additional time allocated to read the question before answering. Once the interview starts it is recording and you won’t be able to stop or restart the interview. You can visit some of the websites above to familiarise yourself with their software. They also share lots of advice and resources.
Our Postgraduate Careers Team can create and offer current students a tailored Sonru interview to support your preparation and help you build familiarity and confidence with the software before a pre-recorded interview. Once you have an interview confirmed, email us to find out more. You might also want to revisit our Interview module on your Pre-Study Careers course.
Live virtual interviews
These usually take place on Zoom, Teams, Skype etc. and are a face-to-face interview with one or more interviewers who will ask questions like they would if you were in their offices.
Sign up to a one to one appointment on Cass Careers Online with the MSc Careers team to practice interviews on Zoom. We can simulate a virtual interview, ask you a range of interview questions and offer feedback on your performance. Practice will support your preparation, curb interview anxieties and build your confidence ahead of scheduled interviews. You can also watch videos and observe best practice interviewee answers on eCareersGrad a subscription we have chosen to help your performance.
Things to consider ahead of your virtual interviews...
Prepare and test your device and technology
Check your webcam angle and microphone ahead of your scheduled interview. You might do this with friends, family or with a member of Careers in a mock interview. Ensure you have reliable Wi-Fi and download any software or apps if required ahead of the interview. Read and review all information sent by the recruiter carefully, they may also share their contact details or technical support details.
Choose your interview location
Inspect your background, be aware of what the recruiters can see in your environment. You might need to remove any clutter behind you, anything that might distract the interviewer. Sitting in a well-lit area of a room is important so that they can see you clearly, your eye contact and facial expressions. Avoid sitting with your back to a window as this will impact the level of lighting and visibility.
Select your virtual interview attire
Decide on what to wear for your virtual interview. We mostly recommend choosing professional business clothes, as you normally would for a face-to-face interview. However, some industries or companies might have a less formal approach. You might need to do some additional research to find out what their norms or expectations are around this. Dress to impress and feel confident in your professional presence. You can check out some additional advice on this topic from Bright Network.
Practice your nonverbal communication before a virtual interview
Communicating online has increased exponentially during the pandemic, though recently recruiter feedback suggests it is here to stay. Building your personal presence through your nonverbal communication is more important in a virtual interview. Like face-to-face interviews, it is important to use eye contact, hand gestures, posture to show you are engaged, enthusiastic, and actively listening. This can contribute towards building a good first impression and rapport during virtual interviews. Position your camera angle to aid your body language.
Prepare like you would for an in-person interview
Research the industry, company and role in-depth
Reflect on how you might stay informed of industry changes, impacts of Covid-19, the disruptions and transformations occurring in the industry. Build an understanding of their business e.g. their marketplace, familiarity with their business model, service or product.
Keep up to date by reading recent news, business press, social media and explore the databases the Business School have subscribed to, which can be accessed through the library, to support your success.
Prepare your interview examples and stories
Dissect the job description and really investigate what it is the company is looking for in successful candidates. You can also contact people currently working for the company and ask them questions about what they really look for in a candidate, what do they value and consider important. Current students can also review competency based interview questions and examples on our MSc Interview module with The Career Farm.
Once you have compiled the knowledge, skills, experiences and behaviours they might assess you on, then reflect on your own experiences drawing upon a diversity of examples from your academic, extracurricular and work experiences.
Practice and demonstrate your motivation
Communicate your authentic and genuine interest for applying to the company and role. What is it that attracts you to the company, what impresses you about them? What motivates you or has attracted you to the job? What are your career aspirations linked to the job? Highlight connections between what you have to offer – your academic knowledge, experiences, values and competencies that demonstrate your fit to the company and role.
Most importantly be yourself, show your enthusiasm and channel any nervous energy into communicating your motivation and interest overall. Good luck!