10 virtual interview mistakes to avoid

By Robert Half on 15th October 2021

You’ve applied for a number of jobs, and you get a call back to say they’d like you to have an interview! However, the twist is that it’s a virtual interview.

Research shows that businesses are increasingly turning to video interviews within the candidate selection process, so it’s important to familiarise yourself with the process. It’s a good way for businesses to quickly filter candidates at the early stages, whilst candidates can save all the hassle and expense of physically travelling to an interview.

If you’ve never experienced a virtual interview before, it can be daunting meeting a hiring manager for the first time through a screen in your living room, but don’t panic. For the best chance of securing your dream job, make sure you prepare. Firstly, understand whether you will be having a live interview or a recorded interview:

Live interview – This is where you talk to the interviewer through software such as Skype, Google Hangouts or Teams

Recorded interview – This is where you record video responses to pre-agreed questions so that the recruiter can play back your responses at their own leisure.

Whether you have a live or recorded video interview, there are a number of similarities to face-to-face interviews. For example, you will still be asked similar interview questions and it’s important to be polite and professional. However, there are also some key differences that you need to consider too.

Here are 10 virtual interview mistakes to avoid and what to do instead to ensure you’re on the right path to success:

1. Bad camera crop and focus

We all have our bad angles, so ensure your camera is positioned correctly before you get started. You don’t want to begin the interview and realise you’re out the picture; you ideally want the camera to be in line with the top of your head.

2. Staring into space

Being dazed is not a good look. If you were in a face-to-face interview you need to maintain clear eye-contact with the interviewer. A virtual interview is no different, so ensure you are engaged and keep eye-contact by looking directly at the camera when answering questions to ensure you are not looking down.

3. Having nearby distractions

With virtual interviews, you can often face distractions, such as the door bell, your phone ringing or other people talking. Agree to a time when you know you will have privacy. Close the door and put your mobile on silent; you could even put a note on your front door asking for nobody to knock during your job interview.

4. Buffering connection

We all hate it when we struggle to watch our favourite videos online; the same applies for a virtual interview. To have a virtual interview, you need to ensure you have a strong internet connection, good video quality and audio. Test this out with a friend or relative beforehand to ensure the interviewer will be able to talk to you naturally, instead of having a video that is constantly buffering or your sound not working correctly.

5. Last minute connection

It can sometimes take a while to get connected to the meeting so make sure you start getting set up a few minutes before the virtual interview kicks off. You don’t want to be rushing around at the last minute struggling to get connected.

6. Throwing on anything

You wouldn’t wear a dirty t-shirt or your pyjamas to a face-to-face interview. The same rules apply for a virtual interview. Make sure the clothes you wear are professionally appropriate. The best advice is to stick to block colours. Patterns and stripes can sometimes create optical illusions on videos which can be distracting for the interviewer.

7. Sitting in a messy room

Remember that as well as you, the interviewer will also see what is behind you. You want them to be focused on what you have to say, which can be a challenge if they’re staring at your posters, knickknacks or any mess you’ve left behind you. So, make sure you sit in a position where you will come across as professional and with minimal visual distractions.

8. Sitting in the dark

If your interviewer can’t see you, that’s not a great start. Make sure you sit in a room that is well lit so that the interviewer can see your face clearly when talking to you. Nothing beats natural lighting, however you can aid this with ceiling lights and lamps.

9. Moving fast

As with any interview, it can be a stressful experience. But it’s important to relax and take things slowly. Speaking at a lightning pace in most cases won’t deliver the impact the interviewer is looking for with your answers. Even in a virtual environment, your body language still speaks volumes. Take a few deep breathes before your interview starts and take a few seconds to process each question before replying. This also allows for any potential time lags in the audio.

10. Beginner’s luck

If you’re new to speaking on a webcam, practice with a friend or relative; do not attempt to have beginner’s luck. This way, you can guarantee everything runs smoothly when your actual interview comes around.

Preparation is key for a virtual interview

As with every job interview, you want to make a great first impression. Take the time before your next meeting to prepare these fine details for the best possible chance of securing the job you want.



Learn from Robert Half’s expert recruiters so you can build a talented team of employees or advance your career. Operating in over 300 locations worldwide, Robert Half can provide you with assistance where and when you need it.

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