How to Navigate and Excel at a Job Interview on Zoom

Job interviews are already stressful, but now you have to adapt to them online? Here's how you can prepare for a virtual interview.

Getting a call to schedule a job interview can be a moment of equal elation and intimidation. Securing an interview is cause for celebration—but then you have to begin the work of preparing for it. An interview is a pivotal moment in your job or internship search. It allows you to get to know an organization to see if it’s somewhere that fits your career goals, and it also enables the organization to see if you’re a good fit for the position. Plus, you’ll get an opportunity to practice your interviewing skills, something that is valuable at any stage of your career.

But much of today’s workplace life has moved online for the time being—including job interviews. An in-person interview already required intentional research and forethought, but an additional dimension is added for a video interview. While the internet is replete with hilarious video conference fails, it’s the subtle issues that can sabotage us. Here are four tips to get beyond the unique technological and mental barriers that a virtual job interview presents.

Set the stage

Even though your interview may not be in an office, you want to leave a professional impression. Dress in business professional attire just like you would for an in-person interview. Also consider your background. Avoid any messy or informal settings—an office or dining room is preferable to a bedroom or kitchen. In addition to the visual environment, listen to the sounds in your space and find a setting that is free from interruptions like lawnmowers outside, barking dogs, or housemates wandering through.

Related: What to Do Before, During, and After Your First Job Interview

Test-run your technology

Enlist a friend or colleague to help you practice placing and receiving calls using the platform your interview will be held on. How does your image look? Can they hear you clearly? You should also have a phone number on hand for the person you’re interviewing with in case you encounter technological challenges. And just as you would allow plenty of time for transportation and parking for an in-person interview, make sure you sit down at your computer early so you feel calm and collected and have all your technology in place.

Stay calm

As we’ve all discovered by now, online communication can be awkward. Even if you can see the other person via video, it doesn’t allow for many of the non-verbal cues that make interactions smooth. Be aware of that from the outset and be prepared to stay unflappable throughout—a genuine smile goes a long way to keep things relaxed and engaged.

Create connections

It can be easy to get caught up in the technical hurdles or lose track of the people who are interviewing you while navigating the interface. Be warm. Ask them how they are. Do the virtual equivalent of looking them in the eye by looking directly at the camera (not at your own reflection). Genuinely thank them for their time at the close of the interview. Allow for the space to have as personal an interaction as possible, even if it’s mediated by technology.

Related: How to Use Your College Network to Land a Job

One of the foundational pieces of advice I give about interviews is to view them not as a test to pass but an opportunity to explore. Your goal is not to survive each question but to get to know the company as they get to know you. Approached with that mindset, no interview—even a virtual one—is ever wasted. Good luck!

Check out more job and interview advice in our Internships and Careers section.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


About Cheryl Hyatt

Cheryl Hyatt is a founding partner at Hyatt-Fennell Executive Search. She specializes in leadership, management, higher education, and hiring practices.


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Fabiola Rodriguez

Fabiola Rodriguez

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped me on my journey to get to the school of my first choice by showing me all the options I have. I didn’t know of the College of Southern Nevada until I went on this website, and it helped me look for other choices and compare what colleges would be right for me.

Daniel Ogunlokun

Daniel Ogunlokun

High School Class of 2022

When I started looking at colleges in the beginning of my senior year, I was conflicted about which ones I wanted to attend based on safety, tuition costs, location, academic rigor, and prestige. Searching the internet and getting more questions than answers, I came across CollegeXpress, which made all the steps I had taken look like a minor issue. Everything was summarized and detailed, and I couldn't be more thankful and appreciative.

Ida Akoto-Wiafe

Ida Akoto-Wiafe

High School Class of 2022

I wanted a school that wasn't too far away from home and could provide me with a full-ride scholarship. CollegeXpress helped me put into perspective the money I had to pay to attend those schools, which ultimately drove me to choose to attend a community college first to get used to being in college before transferring to the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor, one of the colleges I was able to research further on CollegeXpress.



Student, University of the People

I registered with CollegeXpress and filled all my necessary and relevant information as well as the course I wished to study. A few days later, an email was sent to me with a list of schools offering the course; amongst them was the University of the People, the school I got admitted to.

Abhishek Kumar

Abhishek Kumar

High School Class of 2022

As a high schooler, I know how hard it is to plan for college. You have to consider a lot of factors: SAT/ACT scores, college searches, scholarships, and more. CollegeXpress has been a helpful resource that solves all these problems. One can easily create a free account and search away. They help you search for scholarships and colleges, they have graduate program search, they have lists and rankings, and so much more. CX also has a lot of articles and advice to read—whether it’s financial aid, test prep, campus visits, internships/careers, or anything. Not only that, CX gives out free scholarship money to students who sign up and create a free CX account. I love CX and will continue to use it! Thank you CollegeXpress for making my college journey easier!

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Drew University

Madison, NJ

Stevenson University

Stevenson, MD

Moody Bible Institute

Chicago, IL