How to Prepare For an Online Interview

An online interview is a convenient way to meet job applicants nowadays. There is less stress on both parties due to the elimination of some of the laborious preparations undertaken during a conventional interview. There’s no need to prepare a venue, and definitely no need to commute going to it. There is also not much loss for an interviewer in case an applicant fails to show up for a scheduled interview.

Despite the convenience of online interviews, applicants should still take the time to prepare for it. Just like any other meeting with a potential employer, an online interview requires attention and preparation to ensure that it goes well.

Confirm what kind of interview you will be attending

If you think of an online interview, you might automatically picture attending a video call where you will be having a live conversation with the interviewer. While this is conventionally the way it is done, there is another type of online interview that you might be asked to takea video-recorded interview. This type of meeting requires you to record yourself while answering a list of interview questions that will be provided by the interviewer ahead of time.

Each type of interview has its pros and cons. Video calls are more spontaneous and might catch you off guard if you are unprepared. On the other hand, while recorded videos might allow you to prepare ahead of time, it might be awkward or even difficult if you’re not used to talking to a camera by yourself since it does not have the same conversational vibe that a video call would have.

Test the tech to use for the interview

Determine with your interviewer the kind of application you will be using for the interview. It might be Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, or even Facetime. Make sure you have the appropriate program installed on your computer. If you are not used to using the specified application, you should take some time to explore and familiarize yourself with it. Make sure to select an appropriate screen name that is professional and easily recognizable so that your interviewer can easily find you.

On top of your software, you should also test your camera, speakers, microphone, and internet connection for any possible problems that might affect your interview. To be sure that things would run smoothly on the appointed schedule, conduct a test with a friend or family member to see how it works or if anything needs to be adjusted.

Choose a good location

Treat any online interview as you would a traditional in-person interview. Your selected location should be quiet and free from distractions so that you and your interviewer can clearly communicate. It is ideal to have a clear background without anything flashy or distracting. The place should also be well-lit. Natural light streaming in from a window would be best, but if it’s not possible with your chosen room, or if your interview is in the evening, just make sure you have ample overhead lighting so that your interviewer can clearly see you. 

Moreover, to ensure that you wouldn’t encounter any untoward distractions from your surroundings, let your family members or other people in the house know that you have a set interview schedule for that day. Brief them ahead of time of the schedule and the approximate duration, and prompt them a few minutes before it begins. If you have pets inside the house that might make some noise, have them stay somewhere farthest from your chosen location, or have someone take them out for a walk at the time of your interview.

Prepare other materials and references

You would like to have a notepad and a pen within arm’s reach during your interview. It will come in handy if your interviewer shares some vital information with you during your conversation. Make sure to ask ahead if it is fine to take down some notes so as not to distract your interviewer, or make him or her feel that you are not paying attention when you are not looking at the screen.

You can also print out a copy of your resume and cover letter so that you have a reference to the details that you sent them. It is expected that a handful of questions for the interview would come from the information you provided during your application. Your interviewer might want to clarify some details, so you should review them beforehand as well. Having a printed copy within reach lets you look through anything you might have missed during your preparation. It also allows you to be more precise and consistent with your answers.

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Dress appropriately

You won’t be face-to-face in person, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to dress sloppily for your online interview. Pick an outfit that would be appropriate for the job you are applying for as if you are meeting your interviewer in the flesh. For more formal occupations, a business attire such as a suit would be fitting; while for more creative occupations, a smart casual outfit would cut it. 

Another reason why you need to dress to impress for an online interview is that it has been proven that the way you dress has an impact on your behavior. So if you’re wearing something sloppy, you might somehow act like it; while if you wear something sharp, it will reflect just as much. You can exude confidence and professionalism enough to impress an employer just by tweaking your wardrobe.

Additionally, a crucial part of your appearance is your facial expression. Looking glum or lacking eye contact makes interviewers feel that you are disinterested. It will most likely make them cross you out of the list of potential hires. That is why you should maintain good posture and face the screen with an eager or positive expression. Doing this will give the interviewer a good impression of you, and might even make them like you.

Have a contingency plan

It’s no good to only hope and pray that everything goes well in your interview. You should be prepared for any untoward events that might befall you. There might be a blackout, or you might lose the internet connection. Consider the things that might go wrong and have a plan to counter each one. Test your mobile data tethering, have your back-up power source on standby, and ask your interviewer in advance if you could proceed with the interview through a phone call in case there’s a problem with your power or connectivity.


If you have prepared well for your interview, it can eliminate much of the stress you may encounter during the interview itself. If everything goes smoothly, you can focus all of your effort and energy into wowing your interviewer so that you can have a successful interview and finally bag that job.

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