5 ways to ace your online interview

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Rhea Mathur
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With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic came the rise of virtual interviews. Here are five tips to succeed in an online interview format: 

Dress to impress — especially if it’s at home

No matter what the interviewer tells you beforehand, always be prepared! In the event that your phone interview turns out to be a video interview, you’ll leave a much better impression if you come dressed to impress. Plus, rumor has it, when you dress up nicer, you speak a little better, too!

Always have a copy of your resume handy

Interviews range greatly. In the last year, I have been interviewed 37 times. All of them were vastly different — some interviewers spent lots of time asking me questions about my resume, some had never even looked at my resume before. Either way, it’s important that you have a copy of your resume in front of you when you start the interview. That way if the interviewer refers to it, you can provide more context, explain things, etc. It would be difficult if you didn’t know what your interviewer was referencing and the details you provided were totally wrong.

Attitude is important

I’ve read a lot of interviewing tips about what I should say or how I should say it. In the end, being confident about yourself matters, but so does empathy, showing emotion, and being humble. It may not look like it, but interviewers are watching everything that you do and say. Your answers might be perfectly rehearsed, but your body language may give away that you don’t really care about the subject matter. If you’re in an on-site interview, compliment your interviewer or ask them questions about things you noticed about them (the stickers on their computer, a pin that’s on their blazer, a sign you saw in the hallway, etc.). If you’re in a virtual interview, make sure to look them up on LinkedIn before the interview starts and ask them questions about their experience, things that they posted, or what steps their company is taking during this pandemic to keep their employees safe.  

Wait! Look behind you

Virtual backgrounds — as fun as they may be — sometimes do more harm than good. If you don’t have a solid color background behind you, sometimes your virtual background might be flakey or other times your virtual background might cover you up completely. Neither of those leave a particularly good first impression with an interviewer, so try to avoid using a virtual background. If you don’t have any clear walls in your house, sit in front of a closed curtain to make up for a solid background. Try not to take an interview outside because there’s typically a lot of background sound which your interviewer might be able to hear.

Think about your thank you note

One thing I was always told was “if you want the interviewer to remember you, wait 2-3 days before you send them a thank you note.” That’s a lie. When people need to get things done, they will not wait three days for your thank you note — they’re going to wait five minutes, decide whether or not they like you, and tell their boss. If you want to leave a really good impression, send them a thank you note after an hour or two (if you interviewed on a Friday, you could send it anytime over the weekend, so the interviewer will see it on Monday morning). Now more than ever you need to leave a good impression on your interviewers. If you want to go above and beyond, you should send a note via email and have a handwritten note to accompany it.

An online interview can be just as intimidating as one that’s face-to-face, while also presenting a unique set of challenges. Knowing how to best prepare will help you in feeling ready and confident to get the position. Keep these tips in mind, but most of all be true to yourself and that will make a difference in the interviewer getting to know you.


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