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Looking good in a virtual interview

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

Zoom, Skype, FaceTime are now your first shot at making a good first impression, but it's easier said than done.

COVID-19 has changed everyday life in a myriad of ways and has pushed almost everything online, including interviews. Whether you're interviewing with a college for a degree program or for a new job, making yourself look the best can be done with just a few tricks that'll make a world of difference in how you present yourself to your interviewers. Read more about giving a great interview here.


It may seem like having a window or light behind your face will help illuminate things, but it actually makes giant shadows that make it difficult to see your face. The best option is to put lamps on either side of your face to evenly light your face up. Make sure the lamps are out of view of the camera.


If you're wondering how much of your body should be in the camera, always go with less. As a general rule, put the camera on your laptop or phone at your eye line and prop it up on books or a stand if needed. Don't but the camera too close to your face, but don't move it too far away either. You want your waist and up to be in the shot and generally in the middle of the screen so people focus on you, rather than your background. Try to make eye contact with the camera while you speak to mimic eye contact as if you were speaking to your interviewer in person.


You might not feel like you have a pretty or clean enough room in your house to use as your background, but even just a white wall is better than a virtual background. It's always obvious that the background is an effect, and when you move, there will be a black shadow around your silhouette that can become distracting.


Having a background that's a blank wall is completely fine, but if you do have a background of some kind like an office or bedroom, make sure it's clean, organized and symmetrical. You don't need to go buy new furniture or wall art, but you should tidy up a bit and remove things that can become distractions. Perhaps you have random books or papers lying around. Maybe you have a water bottle on your nightstand or a pet lying on your bed. MOVE THEM!


If possible, find an empty room with doors that you can close to minimize surrounding noise that can disrupt your audio while you're speaking. If you live with family, friends or roommates, make sure you clearly communicate when and where you'll be interviewing so they know to avoid that location and making excess noise for the duration of the call.


Work from home has people answering emails and virtual calls in sweats, but a virtual interview should still be a time to dress professionally. This goes without saying, but dress professionally from head to toe, even if you don't anticipate your bottom half being seen. You never know if you'll have to stand up and if you're bottomless or rocking sweats with a button down shirt, you'll lose credibility.


Check your internet connection, account login for the platform you're using and camera and microphone capabilities on the device you'll be using at least a day before the interview to ensure that you'll be all set when the interview time comes around. Troubleshoot any issues as they arise and test a call on the platform 10 to 15 minutes before the interview starts. That's a good time to double check everything else discussed: lighting, camera positioning and noise levels.


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