By Natanya Rutstein

Pexels.com by Martin Lopez

With the current work from home (WFH) reality created by the COVID 19 pandemic and the predicted increase of WFH practices in the future, now is the time to brush up on your online interview skills and techniques and make sure you’re prepared to ace that all important online job interview.

There are plenty of ways to make a good impression irrespective of whether your interview is over Zoom, WhatsApp, Skype, Microsoft Teams or Google Hangouts. Think of it as producing your own movie from the writing of the script through to the final production phase, hopefully receiving great reviews from the critics and landing you that much sought after job you’re hoping for.  Although the standard interview preparation still applies, the online scenario requires a few tweaks and additions to get you ready.

Let’s start at the beginning…


The script

As with any good script extensive research is essential. Know the company and why you would like to work there. Employee reviews on Glassdoor are a useful source of information as well as checking out your interviewer’s profile on LinkedIn. Compile your notes with all information you may need to refer to as well as questions you would like to ask. Keep them on the desk in front of you as “cue cards”. Attaching Post It notes to your screen out of the interviewer’s line of sight can also come in handy.


Find a quite space where interruptions are minimal. Make sure it is free from clutter which may distract you. Be sure to pick a spot where your Wi-Fi connection is strongest and most reliable. Ideally, there should be a plug for your laptop just in case it’s not fully charged or the interview continues for longer than expected.


Keep your background simple. You want the interviewer’s attention focused on you and not on what’s behind you. Although many people are using a bookshelf as a background on Zoom, in an interview situation something simpler may be less distracting.


Dress professionally but avoid bright colours and large jewellery which will distract the interviewer.


The importance of finding the right lighting cannot be underestimated. A natural light source is best with your laptop set up facing a window. If the window is behind you the light will cast shadows on your face and create a silhouette.

Camera angle

Position your computer so that the camera is at eye level or slightly higher and tilted down. By looking directly into the camera it will appear as if you’re making direct eye contact with your interviewer.

Screen test

Prior to the interview you may want to have a dry run with a friend in order to check the strength of your internet connection, lighting, background and camera angle.


Tech check list

One of the drawbacks of the online interview is the potential for technical glitches. To avoid these make sure that you:

  • Sign into the interview web link at least 10-15 minutes in advance in order to validate your access and connection status before the interview begins.
  • Turn off all notifications on your computer to prevent them from popping up during the interview and causing a distraction.

Put your phone on silent and out of the way to help maintain your focus and prevent being distracted by calls and text messages. It may however be a good idea to keep it within reach together with the interviewer’s phone number in the event of a lost internet connection.


The mute button on virtual meeting applications is an effective tool to block out any unexpected noise on your end and prevent the interviewer from being distracted whilst talking to you. Make use of it!

Body language

An upright posture will communicate to the interviewer that you are confident and engaged. Avoid slouching at all costs! Fidgeting with your hands or feet may convey a sense of unease and lack of confidence.

If despite following all the above tips things still go wrong due to an unexpected walk-on or any unplanned special effects, do not despair! Remember that in all probability your interviewer is also at home worrying about the potential for similar mishaps or has at least experienced some of them before. Improvise and forge ahead, learning from the experience and trying to improve next time around. Good luck!


Natanya Rutstein
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