Virtual Interview Tips: 11 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid

How to Ace an Interview from Home

When you’re interviewing for a job, it’s likely you’ll be requested to interview virtually. In fact, according to Indeed’s 2021 Hiring Trends Report, 82% of companies now use virtual interviews. They are more convenient, easier to organize, and a more efficient way to screen candidates.

Errors That Even the Most Experienced Can Make on Screen

Never think, “It could never happen to me.” Even the most experienced of interviewees make avoidable mistakes. The politician who appeared naked on a parliamentary video call, for example; or  the guest who interviewed on British TV with an intimate toy on a bookshelf behind her. Such mistakes may be rare, but should be eliminated before they occur.

#1: A Lack of Preparation

One of the key rules about interviewing in-person is to prepare well:

  • Research the company you are interviewing with
  • Learn a little about the interviewer, if possible
  • Give consideration to the type of clients they have, and the products or services they provide
  • Prepare answers to probable questions

You should do all this when preparing for virtual interviews, too, though there is a little more to put on your prep list:

  • Check your tech – make sure your webcam works; you have the correct software running, your audio equipment is functioning, and that you are lit from the front.
  • Ensure your background portrays the right impression (more later).

#2: Dressing Inappropriately

Just because you are interviewing from the comfort of your own home does not mean you shouldn’t dress well; including below the waist! A disheveled appearance is as disastrous on-screen as it is in-person. Showing you care about yourself is the first step in showing you care about the role for which you are interviewing:

  • Brush your hair
  • Trim your nails
  • Press your suit/shirt

One of the final things you’ll do when interviewing in-person is visit the restroom to check your appearance. Treat your virtual interview with the same gravity. (Avoid any jewelry and accessories that might ‘flash’ on screen.)

#3: A Bombshell Background

Nothing screams disorganized with a haphazard approach louder than a cluttered and untidy background. Avoid background mishaps.

Pay as much attention on what is behind you as you do on your personal presentation. No dirty dishes, questionable posters, or untidy bookshelves. Take a good look at what is behind you to ensure that it does not distract the interviewer’s attention – and if it does, it does so in a good way.

#4: Disturbed by Distractions

Your ‘interview room’ is probably a place in your home. You may share your home with roommates, family, or friends. You may have small children. Then there’s the Amazon delivery guy. A host of potential disturbances that don’t exist in an interview room in a hiring company’s office.

Any disturbance can send your preparation into a tailspin. It doesn’t give a good impression to the interviewer, either – where do you draw the line between work and home?

Let everyone know that you are not to be disturbed. Put a sign on your office door. Place a note on the front door for deliveries to be left at the doorstep or with your neighbor. And if the worst should happen? Keep calm. Excuse yourself from the interview for a moment. Deal with what must be dealt with quickly, and thank the interviewer for their patience and understanding when you return to your seat.

#5: Arriving Late to the Interview

Being only a couple of minutes between logging on and being in the interview can make you complacent about ‘arriving’ on time. What if your broadband isn’t working? What if you struggle to log on? You can’t blame your tardiness on the traffic.

You should always check your technology well ahead of time. Have a back-up plan in place if things should go wrong. Log into the ‘interview room’ 10 minutes ahead of time.

#6: An Inappropriate Username

Your joke email address was a real laugh when you were at college. To a hiring manager it’s a red flag. Nix the ‘barbiedoll101’ or ‘jamesbabemagnet’ tag and get yourself a professional username.

The next five mistakes are ones that interviewees are prone to make during an interview:

#7: Fidgeting

It’s easy to pick up your cellphone, tap a pen, or constantly move in your chair while interviewing virtually. You lose the sense of occasion. If your phone pings, it’s natural to look at it. You may think better when playing with a pen.

Resist all temptation to fidget! Keep your hands in your lap, or firmly on the desk in front of you. Only hold a pen when making notes. Turn off your cellphone.

#8: No Eye Contact

Making and maintaining eye contact is an important quality when interviewing, but it’s a much more difficult skill in remote interviews. You may think you are looking into the interviewer’s eyes, but to do so you must look into the camera and not at the screen.

Our advice is to look at the interviewer on the screen when you are listening, and into the camera when you are talking.

#9: Language Slips

Speak in a professional manner. A slip of the tongue that could cost you dear. Uttering a curse word if you spill your coffee, or your cellphone ring, could be costly. You may think you muttered under your breath, but computer microphones can pick up more than you think.

#10: Negative Body Language

Body language often says more about you than the words you speak. Crossed arms, a sneak peep at your cellphone, and a roll of the eyes all show up on screen. Your mood is literally in lights through your body language.

Smile. Lean forward a little to indicate interest and engagement. Show positivity with a discreet nod.

#11: Bad Habits Played Out on Screen

Chewing gum, picking at nails and nose, as well twiddling with hair, are many bad habits that can damage an otherwise flawless performance. Work hard on eliminating them.

Summing Up Our Virtual Interview Tips

Put virtual interview performance in your job-seeking armory. Avoid these 11 common remote interview mistakes, and the interviewer will focus on your strengths and the reasons to employ you. In short:

  1. Be prepared, and ensure your room and technology is prepared.
  2. Eliminate all distractions and bad habits.
  3. Practice your answers, and be presentable in appearance and language (verbal and non-verbal).
  4. Arrive on time.

Do these four things well, and you’ll be guaranteed to present the best version of yourself in any virtual interview.

At 6 Degrees, we focus on matching candidates to their ideal jobs with their ideal employers, and help them to present their true self throughout the hiring process. To learn how our personalized approach could be the key to your next job on your career path, submit your resume to 6 Degrees Group.

Take the next step in your job search today