Student Advice

What Is a Virtual Interview?

Karis Nash  · Mar 7th 2022  · 5 min

Virtual interviews are the new normal, but how are they different from a traditional interview?


Since the Covid-19 pandemic virtual interviews have become a standard. During lockdowns we were unable to attend in person interviews. Therefore, virtual interviews using video software became the new normal. Whether you’re having a university interview during your application process, or you’re interviewing for a graduate job, it’s likely that it will be online.

Meet the team interview

What is a virtual interview?

A virtual interview is an interview which takes place remotely. This can be via a phone call or using video call programmes such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Virtual interviews are often conducted the same as normal face-to-face interviews. Therefore, it’s important to treat a virtual interview the same as any other interview.

How do I prepare for a virtual interview?

As a virtual interview should be treated the same as a face-to-face one, it is important to prepare in the same way. Avoid waiting until the last minute to prepare. It is easy to just roll out of bed an hour before your interview because you’re not required to commute anywhere. If it’s a phone interview you might be tempted to stay in your PJ’s. But, giving yourself enough time to get into an ideal mindset will ensure you succeed in your virtual interview.

We’re all aware of how temperamental technology can be. So, make sure you have time to test your device(s) before the interview. Test out your WiFi, microphone and camera on your laptop. Even if it is a phone interview, test that wherever you are deciding to take the call is quiet and has good service.

A good virtual interview tip is to have a few examples of your previous work or work experiences prepared.

You want to make a good first impression, and your video set up is a key way to do this. If you’re having a video interview, make sure your background is not cluttered. If you cannot find a plain wall as a background then make sure it is tidy behind you. You could even use the video background features on software like Zoom. These are perfect if you’re struggling to find a suitable background in your home. Consider your lighting too. If you can set up facing a window for natural light then perfect, however if not make sure the room is bright enough so that your face is not shadowed. Interviewing remotely means the interviewer can not see your body language, so only has your face to go on when it comes to evaluating your engagement etc. Therefore, it’s important that your face can be seen clearly.

Your interviewer should tell you what video software the interview will be held on prior to the interview time. Also, they will likely send a link to your email. Sometimes, these softwares take a while to load or unexpectedly need to update. So, to avoid being late, open up the video software you will be using beforehand.

Whether this is an interview for university or for a job it is important to prepare. If this is a university interview then make sure you have researched both the university and the course you’re applying for prior. Also, consider what questions you may be asked. If it’s a virtual job interview, do the same but for the company and the job description.

MS Teams interview

Another virtual interview tip is to have a few examples of your previous work or work experiences prepared. A common question in both university and job interviews will ask you to demonstrate your previous work or experience. For example, you may get asked to talk about a time when you showed leadership or to talk them through a past project you completed. Make sure you have a variety of examples. You want to avoid using the same examples multiple times during the interview.

A luxury of a virtual interview is that you can jot down interview notes and have them beside you. Although, avoid reading from a piece of paper. You’re going to want to keep your eyes on the screen as much as possible so that you look engaged.

It’s not just your answers to questions you should consider beforehand. Think about some questions you’d like to ask the company or university. Without a doubt you’ll be asked if you have any questions at the end of your online interview. Asking questions at the end of the interview will demonstrate your enthusiasm to work/study at the company/university. You may think of some during the interview, however it is always a good idea to have some standard questions prepared just in case.

Giving yourself enough time to get into an ideal mindset will ensure you succeed in your virtual interview.

Once you feel fully prepared, all that’s left to do is log on with plenty of time to spare. You’d arrive at an in-person interview 15 minutes early, so, do the same for a virtual one. This way you will have plenty of time to set up, check your lighting, pour yourself a glass of water and take a deep breath. If you’re relaxed before your virtual interview then ultimately you will perform your best.

What should I wear to a virtual interview?

Looking professional is important for any type of interview. Doing so will show the employer that you are a serious candidate who is excited about this opportunity. Also, dressing as you usually would for an interview will help put you in the right mindset. If you’re looking smart you’re more likely to feel awake and ready for the interview. Even if it is a phone interview, getting dressed in interview attire will get you into the right mind frame. If you’re sitting there in your favourite tracksuit you’re going to feel sluggish. Do also bear in mind that you want to be comfortable. If you’re constantly having to readjust it will be both irritating and distracting for you.

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