How To Ace An Online Interview

by | 04.03.21

Here at BBR we conduct online interviews with candidates seeking our help to find a job all day – every day. The interviews we hold run from an excellent level through to a “I wouldn’t employ you if you were the last candidate available for my role” level. As I am writing this blog I am sat witnessing one of my colleagues interviewing a forehead. Yes a forehead and not a particularly good looking one either. We have also interviewed people who are feeding babies, laying on the bed  and with hats on. Other experiences have been trying to interview someone walking down the street, someone whispering in the toilet and several people with noisy children, naughty animals or husbands/ wifes who like to interfere! Moving forward you are going to find that most employers are going to conduct online interviews, at least at the first interview stage, so it is important that you are prepared. Here are some tips:

Check your tech

This might sound obvious but its worth emphasising. If you have an interview via a video conferencing platform coming up, getting to grips with the tech ahead of  time could get you a job offer. It will also take a lot of stress and drama out of the event. Employers are interviewing via Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype and Facetime, so be prepared to use any of these software’s. Before your interview do a practice run with a loved one. Make sure you can see and hear each other

Prepare yourself

Its important to put just as much preparation into an online interview as you would an ordinary interview, you must thoroughly research the employer , along with its industry and products so you’re prepared to discuss them in the interview if needed. Furthermore there is a good chance that the line Manager and the HR Manager has a presence on Linkedin and a quick google search can shed some light on who you’re meeting with . It is also essential that you prepare a list of job related questions to ask the interviewer. These questions should not include salary, benefits and promotion opportunity queries. These subjects are only open for discussion once you have been offered the job.

Be punctual

For a face to face interview its courteous to show up approximately 10 minutes early. This tip also applies to online interviews, but the benefits go beyond just showing that you’re a punctual person. Arriving early for an online interview gives you an extra few minutes to log in in case you have issues.

Check out your environment

Choose your interview location very carefully. Webcam  mics are surprisingly sensitive, so be wary of places with noise in the background because there’s a good chance that your potential employer will be able to hear whatever’s going on around you. The ideal setting for an online interview is a quiet room in which you can shut out distractions. Avoid being near windows against busy streets and make sure children, pets and partners are not around. You need to definitely be in a distraction free environment

Get your background right

Spend some time thinking about how you want to present yourself and your space on screen . Consider what would be in the background of your shot, whether the lighting is good and what you are going to wear. Its not about needing to have a perfectly curated space because lets face it that’s just not possible, but being aware that your background will help build a picture or you  so you may want to put that big pile of ironing away

Prep your paperwork

Have your CV and any relevant documents you may need handy so that if you are asked to send over documents such as a copy of your CV or confirmation of your right to work in the UK at the end of the meeting you are prepared. It’s also a good idea to have your CV in front of you so you can expand on information on it. I would also advise you to have a copy  of the job description relating to the job you have applied for, that way you can match your experience with what the employer us looking for.

Pay attention to body language

Your body language in an online interview can convey a lot of things about who you are as a person and potential employee. You can present a positive image by ensuring you’re sitting up straight with good posture, not laying on a bed which we have experienced in the past. Place both feet on the ground and avoid slouching or holding your head up with your hands. Always try to keep your hands on your lap to avoid distracting gesturing or fiddling. Its also important  to pay attention to where you are looking. Looking at the interviewers face on the computer screen means you are not actually looking into camera and making eye contact. Instead look into the camera as often as possible, especially when you are speaking. This will give the interviewer the sense that you’re engaged and not distracted by what’s happening on your screen.

Remember you are not alone

Doing interviews online is all a bit new and extremely odd for a lot of interviewers so often you are not the only person who is the student. Chances are the employer has also been worrying about having technical issues whether someone will wander into the room mid-call! Not only is it an unusual situation for the employer, remember other candidates are in the same position as you. You’ll probably compare your interview to what you may have expected from a face-to-face interview but in reality you’re being compared to other peoples online interviews, which probably all had a few frozen screen moments or dogs barking in the background

Focus on the positives

Despite throwing up some new challenges, online interviews cut out some of the stresses of an interview day  – as well as some of the costs! Not having a journey to do that could cause you anxiety about being late could be a massive plus for starters! You also don’t need to navigate handshake etiquette – is it  one at the start and one at the end? Just one at the start? Not only that but once the interview is done you’re already home and can jump straight into your PJs – win win win

So to summarise there is nothing about an online interview that is scarier than a face to face interview. The positives are that they are less awkward, less intense, more comfortable and easier afterwards. Sometimes its harder to get a sense of the person you are talking to and of course you have the worry of a possible technical drama, but you need to keep perspective. Its just an interview, there is nothing about the word “online” that makes it scarier! As long as you do your prep, set up your lighting and your space, lay out your CV and the job description along with a pen and notepad, dress to impress and test your technology you will ace the interview. The only other advice I would give you is slow down, take your time, its ok to take time to think when you are asked a question.


Good luck – go thrash it!

Angela Burton