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    I Asked An Expert For The Do's And Don'ts Of Nailing A Virtual Job Interview, And Here's What She Said

    Do put on pants, just in case...

    Interviewing for a job can be nerve-racking — no matter how many times you've interviewed in the past. And virtual interviews come with a slightly different set of things to get nervous about.

    For example, maybe when you interview IRL, you get so anxious that you'll get lost or stuck in traffic that you always give yourself an extra hour of travel time. Interviewing virtually completely eliminates that worry. But in its place, new fears can pop up, like: Is my background too messy? Will my internet work?? What if a loud truck starts backing up outside my window??? Does my listening-attentively face look weird???? And so on...

    To get some pro tips, I emailed with Sara Skirboll, VP of communications at CareerBuilder, and learned her do's and don'ts for nailing a virtual interview. Here's what we talked about:

    1. Do pick a time when you won't be rushed and can do a little prep before you get into the interview.

    Man sitting at his home computer, getting ready for an interview

    This might also mean scheduling the interview for a time of day when you're at your best.

    Job interview tomorrow and they have the AUDACITY to ask me to Skype at 9am. Do they think I have a normal sleeping pattern and have been able to function before 11am?

    Twitter: @StarEnglishhh

    If you're not a morning person, you don't have to accept an invite to an 8 a.m. interview just because the recruiter offered it. Instead, ask for a timeslot in the afternoon or evening when you're more alert and feeling good. This will help you feel more confident and make a better impression.

    2. Don't schedule an interview during one of your busiest times.

    Moira Rose saying I'm positively bedeviled with meetings et cetera

    This means it's smart to consider avoiding busy times in your surroundings as well.

    Trash truck emptying a dumpster

    3. Do check (and re-check) that your equipment and connection are working before the interview.

    It also can't hurt to make a backup plan for what you'll do in case something doesn't work.

    Woman interviewing for a remote job

    4. And don't forget to double-check that your screen name looks right too.

    If you're using an account that has a profile picture, it can also be a great idea to make sure yours is a nice and professional headshot.

    Pro tip for remote job interviews: update your Skype profile pic. A few years ago I did a Skype interview; the video took a while to start, so for a few seconds all my interviewer saw was a full-screen version of this:

    Twitter: @astro_jcm

    Basically, make sure that anything your interviewer can see about your account looks professional and clean. In a virtual interview, your profile pic and other visible account features are kind of like part of your wardrobe. You want to be sure you're dressing the part. Which brings us to...

    5. Do dress appropriately for your industry.

    Man getting dressed for work

    Not sure how people at that company dress? Do some sleuthing online to get an idea.

    6. Don't wear prints, since they can look pretty weird on camera.

    Character wearing a shirt from Dan Flashes with a wild print saying that's my exact style

    If you're not sure what colors or kinds of pieces suit you, you might look at newscasters for ideas.

    Person watching the news on tv

    7. Do find a place to sit where you're facing a light source, so the interviewer can see your face clearly.

    Natural light looks great on camera, but if the sun already went down, you can still set up great lighting at home.

    Woman using a ring light and a phone stand

    8. Do choose a neat and neutral backdrop for your virtual interview.

    [zoom job interview] interviewer: I gotta be honest, it’s weird that you’re currently sipping sangria in a Victorian-era clawfoot bathtub me: I don’t expect you to hire me

    Twitter: @SketchesbyBoze

    "Home offices or dining rooms are ideal, but if it must be done in the bedroom or another space, be sure it’s kept clean," Skirboll says. "A quick camera test will be your friend when it comes to seeing how your interview space looks. The background itself should be neutral and seemingly clutter-free with everyday items like books, plants, or shelves to allow for little distractions during the interview."

    And if you use a digital backdrop, keep it simple.

    9. Don't let your nerves get the better of you.

    (Job interview) Me: *cracks knuckles* Sorry I do that when I'm nervous. Interviewer: Please let go of my hand.

    Twitter: @karanbirtinna

    First of all, it's totally normal to be nervous in an interview. But what you don't want is for your nerves to take over. Skirboll says, "The nerves could creep in, but once you’re on the call, the best advice is to just relax and breathe. At the end of the day, the interview is just a conversation between two people, and the more comfortable you feel, the more enjoyable and authentic you’ll come across."

    Giving yourself a little bit of extra TLC before an interview can also help keep nerves under control.

    Woman doing yoga at home

    10. Do have some small talk ideas prepared.

    Me at a job interview: "Yes, that's correct. I made two perfect Snowboys in Animal Crossing. I think you'll find that this clearly demonstrates my attention to detail and problem-solving skills." Interviewer: With all due respect: What the hell are you talking about.

    Twitter: @witch_mote

    Making small talk can feel extra awkward in a virtual setting, but Skirboll says it's still an important part of interviewing. "Read the digital room and if the employer wants to make small talk, share a hobby before naturally guiding into the position and your related skills." Talking about a hobby gives the interviewer a sense of who you are outside of work and what working with you might be like.

    If you dread small talk, you can also look for an interesting piece of industry news to chat about.

    11. Do make "eye contact" with the camera to show your interviewer that you're engaged.

    Woman talking in a virtual meeting

    You might find it helpful to cover up yourself in the Zoom window or put a sticker next to your camera.

    me looking at myself in the little zoom box while someone else is talking

    Twitter: @zachsilberberg

    If seeing your face in its own little window is too distracting, do what I do: cover yourself up with a post-it note or use another open window to hide your video. This keeps me from getting too fixated on how I'm doing in terms of my face seeming normal and helps me focus on the conversation. I also know other folks who like to put a sticker next to their laptop camera to remind them to look into it to give their conversation partner the illusion of eye contact.

    12. Don't forget to ask some questions of your own.

    You can also ask specific questions about the role, the company culture, and anything else that matters a lot to you.

    Woman on a video call in an office

    13. And finally, don't freak out if something goes wrong.

    The way you handle an interruption or technical issue during an interview could actually be really positive.

    Have you interviewed for a job virtually? Tell us what went well (and not so well) in the comments!

    And for more stories about work and money, check out the rest of our personal finance posts