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How to prepare for an online job interview

Online interview can be less intimidating through these tips!


Due to social distancing, most of our daily activities are now moved online. Working online, studying online, shopping online, and interviewing for jobs is also online! Read on if you are preparing for an important job interview via Skype or Zoom.

There are of course certain pros and cons when interviewing online. For me, it is much less stressful to have an interview online, as I won’t have to go to an familiar office for the meeting. However, it IS harder to read the “room”  when your interviewer is literally thousands of miles away. 

Here are some specific notes you must know to make your online interview go as smoothly as possible.

1. Practice is IMPORTANT!

Practice is essential for those participating in an interview for the first time, whether online or offline. I usually take 30 minutes to an hour to prep for an interview before the actual meeting. First, I’d make a list of potential interview questions, then role-play to go through the responses. This greatly calms me down before the online interview. Furthermore, I also record myself via my laptop to see if I appear and sound relaxed and confident enough via a webcam.

2. Prepare some questions for the recruiter 

This is the part where most people skip when preparing for the interview. Recruiters want to hear your concerns about the position you’re applying for. It will demonstrate to the recruiter how much you care about the job. This is also an opportunity for you to make a good impression with the recruiter. 

3. Be familiar with the software

The recruiter will surely inform you about the platform they want to use for online interviews. You’ll be surprised how many different softwares and platforms are available out there to conduct online job interviews! So make sure that you have downloaded and accessed the software before the interview. You will want to get used to its functions on both mobile and desktop. This will significantly reduce the risk of technological barriers when the actual interview takes place. Even if something goes south, you will be more calm to resolve the situation or even ask to reschedule should the problem persist.

4. Use your real name and proper photo for your account account

Whether it’s Zoom, Skype or Google Meet, make sure to use your real name and photo for your profile to show professionalism. I will never use nicknames like Chou or Chau Bo or any fashion/selfie photos in my CV and portfolio.

5. Check your device

Make sure that the devices you use will work well during the online interview. This includes your phone or desktop’s battery, webcam, internet connection, mic… Should any of these things does not work stably, prepare a backup device.

6. Be natural with your outfit and make up

Do not underestimate the importance of your outfit and make-up just because this is an online interview. Despite just seeing each other through the camera, make sure you wear something with a collar. I always like a bright color shirt for an online job interview, as it brightens up your face in the camera. DO NOT wear heavy make up. Keep it light and natural with your eyes and lips. If you have time, test your makeup and outfit on the webcam to see any problems before going into the online interview.

7. Pay attention to where you sit 

Not only do your clothes need to be neat, but the place where you sit also needs to be clean, and bright. It’s easier for a recruiter to focus on you if you’re sitting in front of a plain background, with few objects around. In addition, do choose a quiet place. Make sure you can hear the recruiter, and the recruiter can hear you well. I would avoid sitting in any public space, not even a shared living room where your family members or roommates can walk around. I always try to sit next to a window for natural lighting.  And PLEASE remember to put all of your devices on mute!

8. Have paper and pen ready

Pen and paper will help you note down important information during the interview. Moreover, you can note down the questions and draft out your responses before you speak, to make sure you hit all the right marks. I prefer to use pen and paper because typing on the keyboard may create noise during the interview, while taking notes on your phone seems just rude.

9. Print out a CV

You can print out a CV or display it on a tablet next to you. Recruiters tend to ask questions based on what you write on your CV.It would be embarrassing if you don’t even remember what you included in the CV! Thus, having it right next to you during the online job interview is a great idea. 

I wish you the best result in your online interviews!


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