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20 Virtual Interview Tips

Updated: Mar 22



I don't believe interviews are the way to assess talent. It's full of bias and we still have a ways before I think they're equitable. This is a tool to navigate a system not made for all of us--and I've found successful ways to get through. And you will too.


The List's Quick Hits


20 Tips for a Successful Virtual Interview

This list is built from years of interview expertise, experiences, and from supporting 1000s of professionals at all levels to set up for a successful interview.

1 The platform

Confirm what platform you're using beforehand, test it, and be ready to use it. Is it Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, a cellular phone call?


2 Your plan

Have a plan and share that plan as to how you will manage a frozen or lagging 😬 screen. I've said, "if we freeze for any reason, I'll turn my camera off." Because I laid out a plan, there was less time to focus on the solution, and we continued our conversation easier. If you can swing, I invested in the best connection I can get for my family because multiple people work from home.


3 Your hands

Use your hands as you would in person to show enthusiasm. In-person, my hands are near my waist, but on video, they're near my shoulders 🤷🏽‍♀️ to show my listener on the screen.


4 Your body

Use your body as you would in person: lean in to show interest, lean back to think 🤔 , nod your head, etc. These social cues guide and engage your listener. 95% of our communication is expressed through our nonverbals. Tell me you're engaged without telling me you're engaged.


5 Your attire

Dress for the part as if you're interviewing in person. Note that I didn't use the word professional. I want you to be comfortable and confident. For example, I run warm when I'm excited or nervous. So I have a breeze nearby if I wear a blazer or button-up. Note fabrics that help you stay calm and collected. I had a client who was profusely sweating during a mock interview, and after some intentional and gentle exploration, we learned his shirt was polyester, which added to his discomfort. Shout out to Mama Castro for teaching me about the comforts of good fabric.


6 Your tools

Practice calling friends and engaging via video if you need to get used to socializing this way. It's always a good time to check in with loved ones. Double points if you call someone you're nurturing a (networking) relationship with—more on networking for those who are not extroverts here. Use your phone, too; you might need to pivot one day. Be versed in all your tools, especially if you might do the same on the job. In addition to your tools, please, and I can't emphasize this enough, schedule mock interviews with people who (1) make you comfortable and confident, (2) then promote yourself to people who make you nervous, (3) and mirror the interviewing you'll be experiencing. For example, if you have a panel interview, get a squad to interview you.


7 Your sign

Put a bright ✨ note on your door so delivery folks don't knock on it during your interview. I find it helpful to put a timeframe on it. For example, our family knows our mailperson's name, and I write the following: "Hello Noel, :) I have an interview between 10:00 am and 11:00 am. Please do not knock ."


8 The noise

If there's construction near your home or any other disturbances, I've successfully and very nicely asked for a 30-minute pause in their construction 🚧. They've always been okay with pausing. I've given a goodie bag before. What distractions do you have around your home?


9 Your background

Check 👀 your background when you do a test call. Yes, many of us have virtual backgrounds, but that's one thing I don't mess with regarding my interviews. Pro tip: Offer your interviewer eye candy: books, art, any expression that tells them who you are.


10 Your notes

I have notes nearby that is critical for you to hit in your interview. I have high impact points for launching and running my nonprofit, Diversity Community Group. I have a hard time remembering all the points, so I have them nearby, and now, after building my confidence, I let my interviewer know I need to refer to my notes because so much magic came from that experience. I like having words repeated on the job description that I should use, and I also have notes of the organization's values.


11 Your notepad

Have a notepad 🗒 ready and tell the interviewer you have one; this way, you can look down and away from them if you need to jot something down. (Or, shhhh, you're actually looking at a note 👆🏽)


12 Your bling

I love bling, but less is more. It can distract your interviewer, and it can make sounds louder than it would in person.


13 The room

I have a glass of water nearby because I get nervous, and my mouth gets dry 🌵 . What makes you more comfortable? Maybe some lavender oil 😌 on your temples can support you?


14 Zoom in

If your interviewer is in a long room and looks tiny on your screen, it's okay to ask them to zoom in. Take advantage of reading nonverbals, and zoom in to avoid unnecessarily projecting your voice too much.


15 Your phone

Silence 🤫 your phone and the notifications on your computer. Simple yah? Don't forget cause folks forget.


16 The time

Have a clock ⏰ nearby to track time. Your interviewer may be a rookie and not track time. You can lose out on answering the last question needed to get you to the next round(s).


17 Charge up

Charge your laptop ahead of time. 👩🏽‍💻 You never know when you need to change locations at the last minute. I've taken an interview in the closet because my baby woke up and he wanted the world to know. Have your headphones ready for this shift. (Breathe-you'll be okay. Show how you calmly handle change in the moment).


18 Your lighting

Good lighting💡 but what does that mean? Lights can make you look like a supervillain, selfie-ready, glossy, and if the bulb/type of light makes you hot, you can look wet n' sweaty. Test the lighting and adjust accordingly. Avoid bright lights or an open window behind you, making it hard to look at you.


19 Breaks

If you're scheduled for extended interviews (60 minutes), at the beginning, tell them you'd like to check in at the 30-minute mark for a bio break. You can use the time to take some breaths. Turn off your mic 🎤 .


20 Be kind

Be kind to yourself in your search. I firmly believe in cognitive behavioral theory and manifestation, so state your affirmations. Shoot for a simple goal. Mine is to, at the very least, be memorable and passionate. If the role doesn't work out, your interviewer or recruiter might help you continue your search, or they might give you a chance. I've had executives reach out to me after two years; I've had top companies push me through 5-7 interviews for different roles, but I applied once; I've been recruited for a role that had yet to be posted. I want this for you. Shoot your shot and be ready for the rebound. I'm practicing this, and I hope you are too.


BONUS TIP

Interviews and recruiters are people, and they, too, mess up, have bad days, and can be new to conducting successful interviews. You can do everything right but are left with no offer. It's ok, you have a pipeline. Right?


Ten years ago, securing an offer took about 3-6 months. With today's market, it can be longer. Book us to build that pipeline and have a mock interview, and I can provide perspective to develop your interview skills and endurance. I'll include your culture, upbringing and abilities to prepare you.

You got this. And if we work together, I got you!


What tips do you have?


Your cafécito lover,

Katherine



Written from my experience as an immigrant, Afro-Latina, womxn, parent, first-generation, middle-class, and able-bodied person. I know some of my tips don't apply to everyone with different abilities and resources. If you have a question unique to your experience, I'd love to listen to you and see if I can provide guidance or a resource. Dedicated to Caty Kobe, who helped me build my confidence when I first pivoted into the tech industry. Updated: May 15, 2020; February 16, 2024.


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