Tips for a Successful Virtual Interview: WiM's Virtual Career Fair


In today's professional landscape, virtual interviews have become increasingly common. However, it's essential to approach them with the same level of seriousness and professionalism as in-person interviews. In anticipation of WiM's upcoming Virtual Career Fair (presented in partnership with SME) on Thursday, February 8, 2024, we reached out to Diane McNally, an expert in human resources consulting and executive coaching at Diane McNally Consulting to gather valuable insights on how to excel in when participating in virtual interviews.

1.    Set the Right Mindset: “It's important that people take the virtual interview as seriously as they would an in-person interview,” says McNally. “Some people find the online environment more casual but it's a professional environment. It's like walking into an interview conference room in a company's headquarters,” she explains. Maintaining this mindset will help you project professionalism and confidence.

2.    Ensure Professional Presentation: Pay attention to your personal appearance, demeanor, and the aesthetic of your surroundings. “It's really important to make sure your background is professional. We have many options for filters, so people should explore that,” recommends McNally. A distracting or unprofessional background can divert attention from your qualifications and hinder your chances of success.

3.    Check Your Equipment: Before the interview, ensure your equipment is interview-ready, McNally suggests. Test your internet connection, audio, and video quality. Be sure to also create a quiet environment free from interruptions. McNally says that taking these elementary steps will minimize distractions and ensure that the focus remains on your skills and experience. “Often these items aren’t attended to and it’s really a detractor from you as a candidate,” says McNally. “I suggest people do a mock interview with a friend. Just give it a test drive. It can make a real difference.”

4.    Familiarize Yourself with Virtual Platforms: Be familiar with common virtual meeting platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and WebEx. As McNally points out, different platforms have varying features and functionalities. “Be sure you're capable on those platforms,” says McNally. “They’re super easy to use but they work differently. We're all still in learning mode in many ways and what works on Zoom doesn’t work the same on Teams, and vice versa. And WebEx is a whole different scene,” she explains. McNally suggests requesting information from the interview scheduler regarding the platform that will be used and taking the time to learn its nuances. Being comfortable with the platform will allow you to navigate smoothly during the interview.

5.    Be Mindful of Note-Taking: While note-taking is acceptable during an interview, typing on a computer can be distracting to both the interviewer and yourself. McNally says to consider taking notes manually, using pen and paper, to maintain better engagement and focus on the conversation. This approach prevents the impression that you are multitasking or not fully present during the interview. “The body language in which you show up when you're typing looks like you're distracted by something else,” explains McNally. “Staying in the moment as best you can with the interviewer is super important.”

6.    Avoid Ghosting and Maintain Professionalism: Virtual interviews sometimes experience cases of candidates failing to show up, McNally says. “It’s a really bad practice,” she says. “Candidates may not know this but recruiters know each other and communicate with each other. It can be really damaging,” she explains. In case of emergencies or unforeseen circumstances preventing you from attending the interview, have contact information for the interviewer or their assistant readily available, McNally suggests. Promptly communicate any issues to show professionalism and maintain a positive impression. “It builds a reputation. This is a professional person and they handled it professionally. All of that goes into people's perception of you as a candidate,” McNally says.

7.    Arrive Early: “I am very appreciative when a candidate logs in about five minutes before the interview is supposed to start,” says McNally. This practice allows you to address any technical issues and settle yourself before the interview begins. Arriving early demonstrates punctuality and also gives you a moment to collect yourself, ensuring a calm and composed start. “Give yourself that time and that grace to gather your thoughts,” offers McNally.

8.    Identify the Interview Host: If you know who will be hosting the interview or leading a panel interview, it can help you feel more at ease. “When you know who will be running the show, then you're not wondering who's going to kick the interview off and so forth,” says McNally. Knowing who is in charge allows you to direct your attention appropriately and follow the flow of the interview smoothly.

Virtual interviews are a significant part of the modern hiring process. By adopting a professional mindset, ensuring your equipment is interview-ready, familiarizing yourself with virtual platforms, practicing proper note-taking etiquette, maintaining professionalism, and arriving early, you can maximize your chances of success. Remember, virtual interviews are an opportunity to showcase your qualifications, experience, and demeanor. Aim to be memorable for the right reasons, leaving a lasting positive impression on the interviewers. Good luck!

What:   WiM Virtual Career Fair

Date:    Thursday, February 8, 2024

Time:   10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. (EST)

For further preparation, attend the SME Carer Cafe on the topic of Personal Branding - Standing Out in the Crowd on Wednesday, February 7 from 2:00 p.m. 2:30 p.m. (EST).