How to ace your online interview

Online interviewing can be daunting, but don't let fear lose you your dream job. Our alumni experts share their advice on how to nail your next virtual interview.

With more jobs being available as work-from-home and businesses adjusting to keep employees and customers safe, in-person interviewing is becoming a thing of the past. Now, thousands of new university graduates are having to navigate the world of virtual interviews using online platforms.

For many of us, interviewing over Zoom or Teams can be daunting. We asked our La Trobe alumni recruitment experts to share their most important tips to help you ace your upcoming online interview.

1. Research your new role

Understanding the business that you’ve applied to work for is key to nailing your interview.

Our alumni experts suggest looking at the job description and ensuring that you know the key ‘buzz words’ used and vocalising them in your interview.

Expert Jessica Fraser explains that this can showcase your knowledge of the business.

'It shows good attention to detail and an understanding of the vocabulary used and the priorities within that space.'

2. Ask meaningful questions

Think about the questions you’re going to ask before your interview.

'Meaningful questions will show that you're interested in the business,' says expert, Brittany Christy.

Brittany recommends spending time on the company website if you’re uncertain about what to ask. Do some digging into the company’s past achievements and current work. This will help you to build an understanding of the business and discover what you’d like to learn more about.

'If you mention that you read a recent article on XX's work with YY, it will show interest, a willingness to go the extra mile, and great attention to detail.'

Jessica supports this point, adding that this can be beneficial for candidates to personally judge whether they'd make a good fit for the business.

'Even if it's not relevant to the role, it will ensure that your priorities and values match that of the business,' says Jessica.

3. Know your interviewers

Many companies will share who your interviewers are prior to your online interview.

'It takes less than two minutes to look them up on LinkedIn or Google to understand the types of people you will be talking to,' says Brittany.

When introducing yourself, you can then break the ice by saying, ‘Lovely to meet you, I’ve done a little research on you, and is it true that you studied at La Trobe University as well?’.

This is a great way to make an immediate connection with your interviewer, something that can feel difficult to do through a screen.

4. Test your tech

One of the most challenging parts of a virtual interview is the unpredictability of technology.

The forethought to check your tech will reduce your stress on the day and mean that you can focus on the interview itself. Some best practice, according to our alumni experts, is to ensure all your technology is working the day before and the day of your interview.

'Test your audio and Wi-Fi beforehand, as well as the platform that the interview is being conducted through to prevent any excuses for not having the app downloaded,’ says Brittany.

5. Eyes on the camera, not the screen

Most people rely on eye contact when forming relationships, and that’s no different in an online interview.

'Online interviews don't require anything exceptionally different from a face-to-face interview in many ways,' says expert Ayrton Costanzo.

Looking at the camera instead of the screen will feel unnatural at first, but it’s the closest that you can get to making eye contact with your interviewers. Here’s how:

  1. Elevate your laptop to eye level
  2. Shrink your video conferencing app to a much smaller size
  3. Drag the now smaller app as close to your web camera as possible

This way, even if you do glance at the screen, it still looks like you’re making eye contact with the interview panel.

6. Show yourself in the best light... Literally

In an online interview you are limited by what can be seen through a screen, so remember to frame yourself in the best possible way to stand out to interviewers.

Think about your room background and lighting so that you are memorable and well framed on video. This means avoiding distracting objects that can be seen on camera, clutter, or people walking around behind you.

'Clear your surroundings beforehand. No bed in the background, ensure kids and pets are in the next room, and no cat on your lap,' says Brittany.

Jessica also reminds candidates to actively animate. You're only in a small frame, so showing movement and action will help to keep the interviewers' attention on you.

'Remember to breathe and take pauses, show active listening, and be prepared to take notes to show you're engaged,' she says.

Your outfit is also very important if you will be liaising with stakeholders or going for a client-facing position. Jessica suggests that a candidate should dress like they already have the job to show the interviewers that they take the position seriously.

'Dress as though you are already working in the role, so they can see how you would look in the role, regardless of it being through a screen.'

7. Standard rules still apply

Just because your interview is virtual, doesn’t mean it’s any less real than an in-person interview. There are a few rules that you should follow no matter the type of interview:

  • Articulate your answers. You don’t want to ‘um’ and ‘ah’ your way through a response, so ensure that you are prepared for the types of questions that will be asked.
  • Ask questions back. Interviews should go both ways to demonstrate that you’re listening to the conversation, and you will get further insight into what current processes of the business are.
  • Don’t forget to follow up. Treat your online interview in the same way you would an in-person one and get in contact afterwards. Within the 24 hours after the interview, send an email to whoever you’ve been in contact with and thank each interviewer by name for taking the time to speak with you.

Ayrton recommends that candidates stick to the basics.

'At the end of the day, it all comes down to the candidate’s preparation. Their knowledge of the company, the role, and the ability to articulate their experiences when answering questions.'

About our experts:

Brittany Christy is the Human Resources Manager at O'Brien Group Australia. She is a proven professional with extensive experience in many areas of the Human Resources field from remuneration, performance management, employee relations, and recruiting. Brittany holds a Bachelor of Business (Human Resource Management) (2020).

Ayrton Costanzo holds a Bachelor of Business (Human Resource Management) (2014) and has more than half a decade of experience in various HR streams including Recruitment, Generalist HR, System design/deployment, and Reporting and Process development. He is currently the Total Reward & HR Enablement Manager at EY.

Jessica Fraser has a long history in various fields including video conferencing coordination and HR. Currently a HR Coordinator for the Victorian Department of Families, Fairness & Housing, Jessica assists recruiting managers with the selection and interviewing process. Jessica holds a Bachelor of Arts (Politics/History) (2010).