The Virtual Interview Checklist

If you have a phone or video interview coming up, here’s a list of things to do to make sure you shine.

Research.

As you would for an in-person interview, study all the information available to you about the position: the job ad you responded to, the company website, any additional information they’ve sent you. Make sure you know what platform the interview will be on, how many people will be there, and what time zone it’s taking place in.

Check your tech.

Figure out which of your devices has the best camera and plan to use that one. If it’s your phone, find a way to mount it at eye level so your hands will be free and the image will be stable. If you headphones have a microphone, use them to boost your sound quality — particularly if you’re using a laptop. Make sure you have the necessary software downloaded on the device you’ll be using, and consider having it downloaded on a backup device handy in case there’s a technical failure.

Stage your space.

A neutral background not only makes you look more professional, it also reduces “zoom fatigue” for your interviewers. Plan for a 3-foot distance between you and your backdrop — that reduces the likelihood of distracting shadows and looks more polished. Pay attention to your seat — a chair that won’t appear on screen, makes no noise, and reduces the chance of you moving around is your best choice.

Plan your lighting.

Try to have the device between you and your lighting source; lights that are slightly off to the side generally work best (particularly the natural light from windows). Experiment with different arrangements until you have something that shows your face clearly and without harsh shadows or highlights. If you wear glasses, look for solutions that minimize the glare from your lenses.

Practice.

Practice answers to the behavioral and industry-specific questions you anticipate, but also practice to screen-test your video staging. Record a zoom session with yourself. Cover up your screen so you can practice talking to the camera, not the images in front of you (some people recommend doing this for the interview itself as well). Watch the recording so that you can correct anything distracting.

De-Quarantine Your Space.

Exile pets and humans from the space where you’ll be having the interview. Shut down any software on your device that isn’t relevant to the interview so you can avoid having notifications or alerts going off. Turn off or silence any other devices in your area.

De-Quarantine Yourself.

A lot of us have become sedentary in quarantine. Energize yourself before your interview by moving around and stretching to get your energy flowing. If you live alone or otherwise haven’t had much occasion to talk that day, warm up your voice by talking to yourself, calling a supportive friend, or reading a few sentences aloud.