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Online interviews: How to ace your next job interview

Online interviews

Congratulations! You’ve passed the initial application phase and have landed an online interview. Now comes the more difficult part of the process – the actual interview.

There is an abundance of information on tips and must-do’s to ace your online interview, and it can become overwhelming trying to find the best advice for you.

Worry not. We have narrowed down and compiled the top online interview tips to help you stand out and show your interviewer why you are the best choice for the role!

Getting Started

Online interviews were becoming increasingly popular even before the dramatic increase in online working due to COVID-19. Now they are a crucial part of many companies’ application process and it is highly likely that you will have one when applying for your next role.

How are online interviews different from in-person meetings?

Firstly, and obviously, they are online so you do not meet your interviewer in-person this makes it easier for both yourself and the interviewer as you don’t have to commute to a particular office. However, because of this, it can be more vexing in regards to things you need to prepare, such as ensuring that the space around you is clear and professional.

Online interviews are often used as a first-round interview to help companies get a basic understanding of a candidate before inviting them in for a more technical in-person interview. Often they will ask more generic questions about you, your experience and your motivation for wanting the role, to see if they feel you will be a good fit, before inviting you back for a second interview which maybe with a more senior member of staff who will delve deeper into your experience and technical knowledge.


If you are interviewing for a full-time job or an internship, whether in-person or online, the most important factor in determining how well the interview will go is whether you are well-prepared. Not only will doing interview research and preparation help you feel more prepared for the interview, in turn, giving you a boost of confidence, but it can also show the hiring manager why they should hire you as you will appear knowledgeable on the company and industry.

Before the interview, try and anticipate interview questions

Anticipating and preparing for possible questions, the interviewer may ask, will help you organize your thoughts and express yourself and your experience better. In the case where you need more time to gather your thoughts, it’s best to ask the interviewer to either repeat the questions or say “May I have a moment to gather my response?” You want to avoid answering in fillers like “um” or awkward silences as you try to gather your thoughts and come up with an answer.

You also want to make sure that you understand the question before rushing into an answer. The coherency and content of your responses are more important than how quickly you can give one.

Be sure to prepare some responses or notes on potential examples to discuss in your answers, this will prevent you having to try to come up with answers on the spot which may lead to your responses being short and not fully showing off all the knowledge and experience you may have.

Types of questions to anticipate

The questions that they will ask you will mainly be around three common areas, your experience, your knowledge of the company and role, and general questions around your reasons for applying for the role. They will most likely be similar to the ones you may have received at other interviewers. Not only are interview questions designed to gauge your skills and qualifications, but your attitude, behaviour, and how you articulate your answers is one of the key factors that employers look at to determine if you are a good fit for the role.

Some common questions you may receive are:

Tell me about yourself: Mention your experience and expertise but don’t forget to throw in some team building hobbies like sports you enjoy playing. This can help them get an idea of who you are outside of your CV. Though be sure to keep it short and relevant to the role.

Where do you see yourself in the long-run? OR What is your five-year plan?: When giving your answer, also touch on how the role contributes to it.

What makes you the right candidate?: Touch on your strengths and experience and how you can transfer these skills to the role successfully.

What do you expect to get out of the internship or role?: Touch on what you are looking to learn from it and why this particular role is important to doing so. Then go on to show your passion behind wanting to work for that particular company and that particular role. Employers want to see why their role matters to you and if you are passionate about it.

Why is it important?

Though it is almost impossible to prepare for every question that the interviewer asks, it’s still highly beneficial to spend time developing your responses to potential questions that they make ask you. For online interviews, you can have some notes next to you (out of view of the camera) that you can look at to prompt you if you are struggling to answer a question, although make sure you are not constantly looking at the notes as the interviewer will be able to tell.

You also want to make sure you speak clearly when responding to questions as the connection may not always be great. Also, work on not interrupting the interviewer. Though this applies for in-person interviews as well, it’s important to let the interview finish their questions before launching into your response. 

Check your tools

Online interviews rely heavily on your tools’ stability and functionality, such as your internet connection, computer, interview software, audio, and video.

  • When the interview is scheduled, the company will most likely brief you on the tool or app you will be using for the video call. Get familiar with it if you aren’t already. Try a couple of practice calls or mock interviews with friends or family to get you used to talking to the camera. If the company hasn’t told you what platform they will be using, send an email expressing your excitement for the interview itself and then ask for verification on which platform the interview is being conducted on.
  • Ensure wherever you are doing the interview has a stable internet connection. Do a test-run by running a video call at your chosen space at the same scheduled time of the interview. If your online interview is at 10:00 AM on a Friday, do a test-run from Tuesday onwards at 9:45 AM until 10:30 AM to ensure that there are no connectivity issues.
  • Test your external and internal audio and speaker. Doing a video call test-run should give you sufficient assessment if your tools are working properly. Plug-in your headphones, as well, to make sure there are no issues with the internal audio/mic and that the interviewer will be able to hear you clearly without any background noise. Prepare the speaker’s volume ahead of time to avoid adjusting it during the interview, as that can get distracting.

Secure your space

Another key part of preparing for an online interview is to pick out the ideal spot for you to sit for the interview, ensure the space is away from any distractions and that you won’t be interrupted by anyone during the interview. If you live in shared accommodation, let your flatmates know when you will be doing your interview and ask them to be quiet during this time.

While you can’t fully control the interview flow, you can control the environment you’ll be having it in.

  • Make sure the space has a neutral background and tidy surroundings. Conceal personal items that may not be visibly appropriate during the interview. It’s better to have a bare background than one with a lot of clutter or hanging wall photos.
  • Pick a spot that is the furthest from traffic. Sound travels in all directions, and your computer’s mic can easily pick-up any noise, such as vehicles passing by, opening and closing doors, dogs barking, or the television in the other room.
  • Close any access and hang a thick curtain over your window to help minimize the noise. If you have pets, put them in their kennel or cage during the interview.
  • Make sure that your space has ample lighting – not too dark, not too bright. If your interview is during the daytime, make sure that the sun doesn’t hit your face. You wouldn’t want the interview to take place with part of your face outshone by the sun.
  • If you are using a laptop, stack a few books on a table followed by your computer. This can help you be at an equal eye level to the camera and gives you the best angle for presenting yourself.

If you have any notes consider attaching them to the side of your screen so you don’t need to look down or away from the camera if you need to use them as a prompt when you are struggling to think of a response to a question.

Dress to impress

Just because you are doing an online interview, and not meeting the interviewer in-person, doesn’t mean you can dress however you see fit. The same rules still apply when it comes to the appropriate outfit for an interview.

For online meetings or interviews, most people opt for wearing business tops and disregard the bottom half. After all, only the top half is visible, right?

While this may be practical, suiting up from head to toe is better. It helps get you in the zone and boosts confidence during the interview. Besides, you’ve seen those trending Zoom work-from-home interviews? Better safe than viral for not wearing appropriate bottoms.

Ask relevant questions

Asking relevant questions show that you are proactive, eager for the internship, and have a genuine desire to always improve. The interviewer will ask if you have any questions before concluding the online interview, so take advantage of that opportunity and don’t get intimidated. It’s also a chance to clarify details that you can only acquire directly from the interviewer. Check out some of the questions you should be asking at the end of an interview.

Also use this opportunity to ask any questions that you may normally have been able to figure out if it was an in-person internship, for example, what is the office environment like? Is it very open-plan with lots of collaboration between colleagues or is it a silent room with everyone sectioned off at their own desk. These are things that are important to know before joining a company as you want to work somewhere you will enjoy and these are the sort of things you pick up when you go to an office for the interview, however, if it is online then you may want to ask about this as you won’t be able to see what the office culture is like.

Final Thoughts

Online internships are only going to increase in popularity so it is important that you know how to prepare for them as there are some big differences between online and in-person interviews. Ultimately the most important thing is being prepared.

There is no such thing as being overly prepared when it comes to interviews. Use these tips to help your research and interview preparation help you be ready and confident to smash your next online interview.

Do you have any tips for online interviews? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to share this post!

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Aubrey i​s a writer and a regular contributor. She writes on topics on job searching and career development in hopes to provide better tips on job hunting and career development.

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