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7 Ways to Succeed in a Virtual Interview

Virtual interviews are now a bigger part of our lives than ever before. As non-essential travel is currently banned, in-person interviews are being scrapped in favor of virtual interviews. This includes using video interviews to see each other and screen-share capabilities for the presentation (side note: but good news! Most pharma companies are still hiring).

As a result, we have reached peak 21st century interviewing and the virtual interview process is getting its time in the spotlight. It’s a different style of interview to get ready for with a few nuances to prepare for that aren’t always at top of mind when putting your interview face on. Here are a few ways to help it go smoothly. 

1. Test your equipment

This is the most important step. Hopefully, the company you’re interviewing with will offer a test run before you get started to ensure that both sides’ video and audio functions work well enough to conduct an interview. But if a test run is not offered, ask your recruiter or a friend to test it out with you. 

2. Don’t leave your cell phone on the desk

It’s easy to think to yourself “oh it’ll be fine if I leave my cell phone on silent on my desk” while doing a virtual interview. But you may be surprised at how easily the sound of a vibrating cell phone can reverberate through the desk and up through the microphone on your computer. Opt to leave the phone out of the room altogether or to turn off both the sound and vibrating functions on your phone if you need to have it nearby.

3. Turn off email notifications

While working remotely with my colleagues this week, I’ve noticed just how easily the sound of an email notification carries through the microphone during video meetings. Simply turning down your computer’s volume probably isn’t an option since you’ll need to hear the person you’re speaking with – so go turn off the sound of your email notifications before your interview gets started.

4. Get the background cleaned up

Be aware of what’s behind you and within the camera shot. Your surroundings are going to be a reflection of who you are and you wouldn’t want to come across as a disorganized or disheveled person. Make sure there’s not a pile of laundry behind you, make sure that picture hanging on the wall is level, or tidy up the bookshelf in the background.

5. Dress for a true interview

Don’t let the casual feeling of doing a video interview from the comfort of your home take over your interview mentality. Dress as you would for an in-person interview. And don’t try to get clever by only dressing up the top half of your body! What if you have to stand up for some unforeseen reason? Now you’ve revealed that you decided to pair your sports coat with sweat pants. Being dressed up makes you feel better and perform better in an interview, anyway.

6. Close off the room from distractions

Do your best to isolate yourself from other distractions at home that could interfere with the interview. Between the doorbell ringing, the home phone ringing, your dog barking at nothing in particular, and the cat deciding your keyboard is their new keyboard now, there are a lot of things that could distract you from your interview. Remove as many as is possible.

7. Make eye contact

We’re already at a little bit of a disadvantage with these virtual interviews. Part of the in-person interview is getting to connect with your potential new coworkers and getting to feel like everyone is getting to know each other. We lose out on some of that by substituting in a virtual interview. However, one way to help remove that handicap is to make as much eye contact with your camera as possible. It’s going to be tempting to look down at yourself or someone else on the screen, but looking into your actual camera lens is going to be what helps the interviewer feel the eye contact with you.

Questions or comments? Email me at

Author: Lawrence Beck, CPC

Lawrence joined SEMbio in 2011 and is a team leader in recruiting and business development. He attended Texas Tech University on a path that led him to obtain his Master’s degree in Sports Management which provides Lawrence a unique perspective as a recruiter.