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.
This might also mean scheduling the interview for a time of day when you're at your best.
2. Don't schedule an interview during one of your busiest times.
This means it's smart to consider avoiding busy times in your surroundings as well.
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.
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.
5. Do dress appropriately for your industry.
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.
If you're not sure what colors or kinds of pieces suit you, you might look at newscasters for ideas.
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.
8. Do choose a neat and neutral backdrop for your virtual interview.
And if you use a digital backdrop, keep it simple.
9. Don't let your nerves get the better of you.
Giving yourself a little bit of extra TLC before an interview can also help keep nerves under control.
10. Do have some small talk ideas prepared.
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.
You might find it helpful to cover up yourself in the Zoom window or put a sticker next to your camera.
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.
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.