10 Top Tips To Be At Your Best In Virtual Interviews

virtual interviews

In the current climate virtual interviews have become the norm, so it’s vital that you know how to be at your best. Here are our top tips.

1. Practice with virtual interview technology

There are many different video software options out there which all work slightly differently so it’s vital that you find out which software is going to be used and try it out well in advance of your interview.

  • Live interviews

Common systems used for live interviews are Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google hangouts, Skype. Download the software onto your computer or mobile phone in advance. Make sure your webcam and audio works. Have a practice by setting up a call with some friends, or other Careers Springboard members. Test out the features of the software e.g. the ‘chat’ facility, how to share your screen in case you need to present slides, how to change your view of the people on the call.

You may find that headphones help you hear the audio better. You can buy a headset with a microphone, or some headphones which come with mobile phones have a microphone on the lead.

  • Pre-recorded interviews

There are also a number of systems that are used for pre-recorded interview questions. A candidate answers pre-defined interview questions, then the recordings of these answers are reviewed later on by a recruiter. This approach allows employers and recruitment companies to vet larger numbers of candidates quickly, then spend more time with the applicants who are the best fit. Whilst you can’t try these systems out in advance they offer you a test run when you login, which you can play back so that you can make sure that you can be seen and heard clearly.

2. Set up your virtual interview area

When you’re being interviewed you want the attention to be on you. So make sure that the room you are in isn’t messy. Login to the software and look at what the person will be able to see behind you. Remove clutter to create a more professional look. You may want to remove any photos of children etc. A painting or picture on the wall behind you is fine, but it’s better to have one or two rather than ten!

3. Choosing the right lighting

Good lighting is really important. You want the interviewer to be able to see your face and expressions well. It is best to have your largest light source either right in front of you, or no more than 45 degrees away. If you can’t position your screen with a window behind it make sure that you close the blind, otherwise you will have a distracting glow behind or to the side of you. Your screen can be a large source of light, so adjust your screen brightness, especially if you are taking a call without natural light.

4. Position your device correctly

The best position for your device is so that your eyes are in line with the camera lens. Raise your computer up by resting it on books or a box. This means that you will appear to be looking into the eyes of the recruiter, helping you build rapport.

5. Choosing the right interview outfit

Just as with an in person interview you need to pick the right outfit to wear which demonstrates that you are professional. Your subconscious mind associates putting on formal clothing with going to work and is strongly correlated with confidence and productivity. Therefore when you dress professionally you raise your own opinion of yourself and your behaviour follows suit by matching your clothes.

Solid and neutral colours work better than patterns via virtual interviews. Patterned outfits like stripes and checks can blur and be distracting.

6. Arrival time for virtual interviews

Make sure you’ve double checked the time, date and time zone for the meeting.

Whilst you may usually turn up for a face to face interview 10 minutes in advance be mindful that the interviewer may be using the same ‘virtual interview room’ for all candidates. So entering the room early may mean you join another candidates interview! They may have created a ‘waiting room.’ It’s best to arrive just a couple of minutes early.

7. Speak slowly and clearly

Interview nerves can make you speak more quickly. However, even if you have a great internet connection, the call might cut out for a second here and there. You’ll be much easier to understand if you’re not rushing through your responses. It will also make you appear more confident.

8. Be aware of your body language

In virtual interviews the recruiter can’t see your whole body. Most experts agree that 70 – 93% of communication is non-verbal.

  • Eye contact

See above about device positioning to make it easier for you to maintain eye contact.

  • Posture

Sit straight and lean slightly towards the screen to show enthusiasm. Make sure your torso is positioned in the centre of the screen so that hand gestures can be seen.

  • Non-verbal expression

It’s harder to express active listening on screen, so smile and nod more than you would in person.

9. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification

If your connection drops off for a second so you miss a question, don’t be afraid to ask for it to be repeated. Explain that the connection dropped out.

10. Be patient

Virtual interviews are new for many of us, including recruiting staff. As a Careers Springboard member having joined weekly webinars via Zoom you may be more confident than your interviewer at using the technology! So be patient, this will help ensure that you put yourself across in the best way.


It is a good idea to practice with other people. You could get in touch with other Careers Springboard members to see if they would be happy to help you. Or as a member you can book a mock interview. We wish you all the best and don’t forget to let us know if you secure a job.

If you want to build your confidence using Zoom Careers Springboard always welcomes members to try hosting or chairing meetings. Let us know if you would like to try.


Returner Programmes – Return To Work With Confidence

Returner programme

If you’ve been out of work for a while you might be eligible to join returner programmes.

What is a returner programme?

Returnships are for people who have taken a career break and are looking to return to work.

Employers are usually looking for candidates who have been out of the workplace, or not working in their usual profession, for a minimum of 2 years. This isn’t always the case though, so check the programme details.

The employer gains from a pool of high-calibre experienced and motivated people who are keen to get back to their profession. Opportunities are often available in: technology, financial services, e-commerce, or professional services organisations.

What are the benefits for me?

  • They’re a great way of overcoming the ‘CV gap’ barrier to employment.
  • The employers often provide flexible working options.
  • The programmes enable you to transition back into the workplace through a structured, supportive programme.
  • It will help you build your confidence and update your industry knowledge. The programme may include coaching, mentoring, on the job experience and some classroom learning.
  • At the end of the programme you may be able to secure a permanent position within the company. If you’re not offered a role you can use the contacts you’ve built and your updated experience to secure a job elsewhere.

Where can I find details of returnships?

The following websites are useful for finding returner programmes. You can also find opportunities on the major job sites by adding ‘returners programme’ into the search box.

Ten2two – Is a Hertfordshire based recruitment agency focused on flexible careers. They often work with businesses to source candidates for returnship programmes.

Inclusivity – Are Buckinghamshire based specialists who support career returners back into work following a career break.

We love to hear from Careers Springboard members who have secured a role. It helps motivate others and helps us attract more funding to be able to help more jobseekers.

Find Out How To Start Your Own Business

Start your own business

Do you want to start your own business?  Redundancy or job loss can often trigger a desire to take your career in a new direction. If you’re thinking of launching your own business there are lots of resources available to help you.


If you’ve always dreamed of being an entrepreneur join one of Buckinghamshire Business First‘s free virtual ‘Be Your Own Boss’ courses. This start-up business support service helps you develop the skills you need to start your own business. The next Be Your Own Boss event is on 13th January 2021.

Buckinghamshire Libraries’ Information & Learning Team are running free Business Information Sessions on 6th January 2021 email lib-ref@buckinghamshire.gov.uk for details.

Companies House sometimes run free webinars and have previous ones available to view on their website.

Financial Support

You may be able to receive a New Enterprise Allowance to help you setup a new business if:

  • you or your partner get Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance
  • you get Income Support and you’re a lone parent, sick or disabled

You’ll get a mentor who will give you advice to help you develop a business plan and launch your business.

Once your mentor has approved your business plan, you:

  • may get a weekly allowance worth up to £1,274 over 26 weeks
  • can apply for a loan to help with start-up costs

New Business Start-up Resources

NatWest Business Hub – Business guidance, Toolkits, Market Trends and Events

GoDaddy – GoDaddy guide to starting a business

Startups – small business advice platform, covering everything you need to know to start, buy, run, or sell a business.

The Princes Trust Enterprise Programme – For 18-30-year-olds interested in setting up a business.

The library offer free access to COBRA, Complete Business Reference Adviser. This online resource contains more than 4,000 factsheets, market reports, contacts and sources of funding and support plus hundreds of practical guides to starting up more than 350 types of business. Login with your library card number.

Careers Springboard Support

If you’re not sure whether starting your own business is right for you it might help to talk explore it with a coach. As a Careers Springboard member you can book free coaching sessions.