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Career Success, Personal Growth, NSLS Blog

How to Make a Good Impression in a Virtual Interview

Remote work and virtual interviews are here to stay. Since the pandemic, video calls have increased by 50%. In addition, 92% of employees expect to work from home at least once a week and 80% expect to work three days from home. Plus, they save around $6,000 a year when working remotely so going back to in-person work environments is a big ask.

It may seem like a natural progression, but the techniques you've mastered for in-person interviews don't always translate to the virtual space. Here's how to make a good impression in a virtual interview, for both the tech-savvy and tech-averse.

Do's and Don'ts of Virtual Interviews

You may no longer have to wait in your car for the right moment to walk in the door, but you'll still want to put your best foot forward. Here are some interview do's and don'ts that are worth keeping in mind.

DO Dress Well

You shouldn't feel obligated to purchase a new suit but you’ll still want to dress for the job. By dressing professionally, you're more likely to act that way. Studies have shown that the way you dress affects your mood, confidence, productivity, posture, and even abstract thinking.

DO Be Yourself

By embracing your authentic self, you'll talk about past accomplishments more confidently and be able to pivot if you don't know an answer. By being yourself, you'll feel secure in taking a moment to think. Try and have fun, while also being professional and respectful. You've accomplished great things, so feel confident talking about them.

If you go into the interview acting like someone you're not, you'll start doubting yourself. It's not always about giving the right answer; it's about demonstrating that you can think outside of the box. Bring the question back to a success of yours and frame it in a concise story, or ask to come back to it. When you do this, the interview will feel more like a conversation.

DO Your Research

To have a great interview conversation, you'll want to do your homework. Understand the job description inside and out, know the history of the company, and familiarize yourself with what they do and their larger mission. 

By doing your research, you’ll show that you're serious about the opportunity. In a virtual world, it’s easy to click the “end call” button and throw your resume into another pile at a different organization but the more you do that, the more you slide out of the running. 

Instead, focus on the opportunity at hand. When you reference specific facts about the company you're interviewing with and ask specific questions, you'll stand out from the competition. Also, be sure to prepare one to three questions to ask at the end of the interview.


DON’T Rely on Body Language

Yes, we know—93% of communication is non-verbal. But your non-verbal clues aren’t likely to be picked up in a virtual setting. During video calls, you're literally within a frame, and hand gestures and body language are hard to detect. 

In this style of interviewing, posture and verbal communication is important. Speak confidently, clearly, and remember to smile. Keep in mind that nonverbal cues are mostly in your face and the way you sit.

DON’T Interview from the Car

Some “don’ts” should go without saying, but then you’ll hear another story from a recruiter about a candidate taking an interview not only in the car, but driving! In virtual interviews, your setting matters. 

If you're smart enough to forego taking an important job interview in the car, make sure your background is well-organized and professional. Choose a quiet spot and close the windows to eliminate any potential noise. 

If your setting isn't ideal but you have no other options, explain that. Tell the interviewer you have kids and this is the quietest area in your home, or that construction is going on and you're in the farthest room from the noise. Chances are the interviewer will find this human and honest, which instills a sense of trust. 

DON’T Panic

We're all still getting used to the rhythms of a virtual conversation—it just hasn't been around long enough to be part of our natural lexicon. For younger generations and digital natives, it’s more natural.

If you start saying something and there seems to be a delay, don't panic. It's part of the texture of this new way of communicating. We know it’s easier said than done, but when the tech fails, stay optimistic and be patient. Take a pause, and let the tech catch up.

With virtual interviews, it's easy to give up when nerves strike. Once the call is ended, you might never see those people again, right? And you'll be in your sweatpants in no time (if you aren't already). But pull through because it might be going better than you think.

If your tech stops working entirely and the interview proves to be impossible to move forward with, send an email explaining the situation and when you can log back on, or ask to reschedule.

Prep Your Tech

Virtual interviews are fully reliant on technology. Forget about understanding the role you applied for, or researching the company, or getting that perfect outfit ready. The first thing you need to assess is if your tech is in order.

Here's a checklist of tech-related items you should address before your next virtual interview: 

  • Get the frame right. Make sure you're well-lit, centered, and your background is professional or blurred. If you have no other place to take the call other than the couch, use books to prop your laptop up to master the shot. You don't need to be Steven Spielberg, but make sure the angle is right.

  • Check your Wi-Fi. Without Wi-Fi, you don't stand a chance. Ensure you're connected before the call and tell family to hop off if you're worried about too many users clogging up the bandwidth.

  • Charge your laptop. Better yet, keep it plugged in during the call. The average job interview lasts between 45 and 90 minutes, which could put strain on your laptop if you're working with a jalopy.

  • Test the video link or software. Zoom is most well known, but there’s a large range of video conferencing software. Make sure you're able to log on to the one you'll be using. If you're confused, ask the recruiter for help in advance.

  • Give your computer a reboot. There's no better way to ensure your computer is up-to-date and feeling fresh, just like you are for your big interview.

  • Silence everything. Silence your phone or keep it in a different room. The million apps on your computer—silence those too. Nothing will interfere with or look worse during the interview more than that constant ding.

  • Have headphones ready. Consider wearing headphones if you're calling in from a noisy place. This will limit extra noise for yourself and the interviewer.

When all else fails, remember to feel confident rescheduling your interview and consider taking it from a local library next time, or somewhere you can trust the Wi-Fi strength.


Here are some final things to keep in mind regarding proper interview etiquette.

Take Notes but Don't Type Them

When typing, you create extra noise that could hinder your conversation. Taking handwritten notes also looks good; it means you’re engaged in the conversation. You'll seem disengaged if you’re typing and if you're only on one screen, the interviewer will know you've clicked out of the video to type notes.

Keep Eye Contact

Stay present and keep the screen up with the video. Eye contact is trickier in the virtual space. Technically, you want to stare right at your camera to have the effect that you're making perfect eye contact, but looking at the interviewer on your screen is also effective.

Be on Time

This was unquestionably trickier when you had to do in-person interviews. In the virtual space, it's still a good idea to get there early. We suggest logging into the call five minutes before your scheduled time slot.

Send a Thank-You Note

This may seem antiquated but it's still a nice touch. If you're unsure about your interviewer's contact information, reach out to the recruiter. They recruited you and are on your side. Remember, it's their goal to get you hired.

More Inherently Human

It's a misconception that the virtual interview is more informal than an in-person interview. The virtual format is undoubtedly more human and the same things are at stake—like that dream job you applied for—but the setting is just different.

This movement to remote and hybrid environments has instilled a greater work-life balance for many. By adhering to the core principles of virtual etiquette, you'll find success and achieve your goals.

The other side of the interviewing coin is having a superb resume. Learn how to boost your career and credentials, and how the NSLS provides the platform to do it.