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


High School Class of 2022

My mother signed me up for a couple of scholarship contests through CollegeXpress. I was also able to do some research and compare the different schools on my list. I was able to see the graduation rates and different programs that helped me decide on Adelphi University. I will continue looking for some scholarships for my start in September.



High School Class of 2019

My favorite feature of CollegeXpress is the scholarship search. As someone going out of state for college, I needed all the financial help I could get, and CollegeXpress helped me easily find scholarships I could apply for to help fund my education.

Heather McCarty

Heather McCarty

High School Class of 2020

CollegeXpress has helped me with the college application process. The tips and tricks for important essays were so helpful. I also gained useful knowledge about college life. Even though I’m fully online, CollegeXpress has helped me develop a sense of how college is in person. The experiences from college students that were featured on their Instagram page have shown the good, the bad, and the “secret” life on campus from a reliable perspective. Not to mention, they relieved my feelings of anxiety about the workload. I can now understand how it can be stressful, but it takes self-control and willpower to get assignments completed on time and with quality.

Heaven Johnson

Heaven Johnson

Back to School Scholarship Winner, High School Class of 2023

I’d like to thank everyone on the CollegeXpress team for their generosity. Not only have I been awarded this scholarship, but CollegeXpress makes it easier to apply and gives amazing tips for schools and scholarships. I am extremely grateful as this will help with my schooling and allow me to be able to enter into the field I’ve been dreaming of all my life. 

Lu Diehl

Lu Diehl

High School Class of 2022

I never would have found the college I plan on attending without CollegeXpress! I've always been a person of ambition and have been dreaming of studying and working on my passion for law, legal studies, and political science. Washington College is where I plan on pursuing my career. My journey with my education has been difficult, and oftentimes, I was told I would never amount to much, but now I'm dual enrolled at Caroll Community College and have had experience in the fields I am dedicated to. Without the help of CollegeXpress (even in its early days), I would never have found Washington College and the information I need to apply and become a part of their community.

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Hendrix College

Conway, AR

Randolph College

Lynchburg, VA