How to conduct online interviews

What are online interviews?

With the ever increasing influence of the internet and the opening up of various countries to work in, there is an increasing demand for conducting interviews remotely, where the recruiter is in a different location from the candidate. These remote interviews are now easy to set up via Skype, iChat and other videoconferencing tools, and are very cost effective. Recruiters don’t need to travel all over Europe (and beyond) to interview candidates, but the downside is that these interviews are not as ‘personal’ anymore.They require a slightly different approach in order for candidates to be successful.

So, how do you approach these online interviews?

Act professionally

It’s important to come across as smart as possible, but not only with the way you dress but also the area around you. You will generally do the chat from home as you don’t want to be interviewed whilst at work. Being at home you will want to give the impression that you are organised, so keep the visible areas tidied up. Choose a room with very little clutter in it, ideally with a white background, so there is no distraction.

Make sure your mobile phone is switched off (or on silent at least) and you unplug your landline (if you still have one) because if it rings you might get distracted. Also make sure any alerts on your computer are switched off as this can have the same effect. Don’t let anyone interrupt you and spoil your chance to impress the interviewer.

Make sure you leave yourself enough time to double check that everything works. Be in front of your computer well in advance, just in case the recruiter rings a little earlier than expected.

If the interviewer is ringing from a different timezone, make sure you both know what the time difference is, so that you don’t get a call an hour earlier than you thought the interview was.

Dress & Lighting

As with any interview make sure you look as business like as possible. It’s a work interview, so dress as if for work. It is normally best to wear dark colours and don’t wear bright colours or patterns. These not only don’t look professional, they will also cause all sorts of visual effects on screen. People do judge on appearance, so be prepared.

It’s important to have adequate lighting that will prevent shadows but keep in mind that too much brightness could create an unclear image, so if there is too much light coming in from a window, perhaps close the curtains.

As with anything, if you’re not sure, test it with someone else. Do a test call with someone you know to work out the best settings.

Technology & Username

One of the worst things that could happen during your interview is when you suddenly have a technology related problem. Ensure your internet connection has sufficient speed to handle the online session. If in doubt, do an online speed test or get your IT provider to sort this out.

Usernames often reflect the jokey atmosphere when you intially set it up. Don’t use names such as Bellybutton2367, MadMonkey or Ihatework. They can say a lot about you. Create a new account with a professional username, which you can use in the future for your work.

During the interview

The basics of an online interview are the same as in a normal interview. Keep eye contact with the interviewer to show you are giving him/her your full attention and lean forward slightly as you would in a normal interview. Look at the camera and not at the picture on the screen. (Place the picture right underneath the camera.) Try not to look away and have your eye dart round the room as this will give the impression that you are distracted. Just relax, smile and be your enthusiastic self, just like in a normal interview.

It will probably help if you’re able to practice a mock interview before the real thing so you feel prepared and know roughly what to expect.


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