How to Prepare for an Online Interview

The online interview comes in two basic forms: a screening interview, or a formal interview. In any case, the interview is usually a behavioral interview, based on job criteria and standard questions. The online interview has additional elements. You will need to prepare for an effective interview.

Video interviews

Online interviews are usually video interviews. That can be a problem for people who are not used to doing visual presentations in this form. Unless you've been trained in video presentation, you will need to get comfortable with the video medium. The interview environment is neutral, but many people get self conscious and uncomfortable with their own performance.

It's actually quite easy to get training and experience with this medium. Professional trainers can give you experience working with a web cam, and just speaking to the camera. It's simple enough, but it's a matter of "learning by doing". The best video interview presentations are natural and relaxed. Practice until you're sure you can do an interview without being camera shy.

Important: If you're working internationally, this is a common form of media for job interviews. It's advisable to make a point of familiarizing yourself with the online media and become fluent in its use.

Setting up for the interview

The setting for your interview should be comfortable and well presented on camera. Make sure the camera is showing a neat, businesslike environment for your audience.

Making yourself comfortable is one of the positive elements in the interview:

  • Make sure you've got a glass of water handy to help your speaking.
  • Use a comfortable chair with a back support.
  • Keep your desk or work station clear of any obstacles or unnecessary objects and materials.
  • Dress appropriately for an interview.
  • Before the interview, make sure all your equipment is working properly.
  • Adjust web cam settings for best effects.
  • Turn off cell phones and disconnect landlines.
  • Make absolutely sure you're not disturbed or interrupted during the interview. (If that's a potential problem in your usual environment, see if you can use a spare room or office.)

Interview preparation

The online interview itself is a job interview in every sense of the word. Interview preparation must be done in the same way as any face to face job interview:

  • Essential job criteria: Revise each essential in the job ad.
  • Core skills: Consider each skill in depth. Think of relevant examples of your skills in these areas.
  • Communications: Communications skills are essentials in each job. Consider some standard interview questions, and rehearse your answers, verbally if necessary, to ensure your delivery on camera during the interview is clear and fluent.
  • Interview content: Like face to face interviews, clarity is the key to a successful online job interview. Speak concisely, don't overstate or repeat information.
  • Time management at interviews: If you have to give a complex answer, warn the interviewers in advance. This is a courtesy, because they have to manage their own interview times. Ask if you can give a lengthy answer. It will probably be OK, but if they don't need detail, you can also save yourself time.