The Virtual Job Interview: Tips for Candidates, Recruiters

April 1, 2020      By Ultimate Software

Ultimate Takeaway
  • While many businesses have shut down due to COVID-19, some companies are still hiring.
  • Virtual job interviews have become common in an era of social distancing.
  • Following new, and traditional, best practices can lead to success in virtual interviews.

While countless companies and industries have been shut down or severely impacted in the midst of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, some organizations are still looking to hire hundreds and even thousands of new employees. But as remote work and social distancing become new ways of life for millions of people, so too comes the rise of the virtual job interview, with dynamics affecting candidates and recruiters alike.

Whether you’re looking for a new job or looking to bring on new hires in these uncertain times, here are a few points to keep in mind for the virtual job interview, as some traditions change—and some remain the same.

Dress the Part

Even if you’re not in the same room, it’s just as crucial to dress for your virtual job interview as you would for an in-person meeting—and not just from the waist up. It’s still best practice to wear full professional attire. Firstly, you’re prepared in case you need to suddenly move around on camera. Secondly, dressing up can have a positive impact on your mentality and overall interview performance, similar to how striking a powerful pose has been linked to favored outcomes in business and in life. 

On the practical side, it’s also good to wear solid colors and to be mindful of patterns that may “dance” on camera and cause unwanted distractions. After all, the focus of a job interview (virtual or traditional) should be what the candidate and the employer can each bring to the proverbial table.

Arrive Early, Prepared

Virtual job interviews are a two-way exchange, and both recruiters and candidates should use this opportunity to learn more about each other. Prior to the interview, employers should review the candidate’s resume, as well as any submitted supplemental materials, and prepare a few questions. Candidates should also research the role, learn more about the company’s products and services, and see what other employees (current and former) think about the company’s culture, via trusted peer-review sites.

Everyone’s time is valuable, so it shouldn’t be wasted because of a lack of preparation by either party.

Stay True to Your Values

Just because your work environment might’ve changed, doesn’t mean your beliefs have to also. In this time of uncertainty, it’s imperative to remember your “why” and to stay true to your core values, whether representing yourself or an entire company.

For candidates, that means finding out more about how it feels to work for the prospective employer. Even if it’s a temporary position, culture matters. It can affect your well-being and overall job performance. Plus, a temporary or seasonal role can lead to a permanent position in the company, so it’s worth paying attention to your first impression.

Likewise, for recruiters, it’s still vital to hire for cultural fit. Look for candidates who not only possess great talent and skills, but who will also help you build a great culture and become an employer of choice.

Follow Up in a Timely Manner

No matter how or where the interview is conducted, some follow-up should take place. If you’re a candidate, be sure to contact whomever you spoke with and to reference a memorable takeaway from the interview.

Maybe it’s a topic you spoke about (e.g., how you both went to the same university), or, in this era of remote work, maybe it’s something funny that happened during your conversation (e.g., the cat’s surprise cameo providing a moment of levity). If you interviewed with multiple future co-workers, reach out to each person separately. An email is instant, but nothing still impresses like a hand-written thank-you note in the mail.

Recruiters, too, should follow up with candidates. It’s even more critical to contact someone who didn’t get the job, as no one likes to be “ghosted” by a prospective employer. Not following up is poor business practice, and you risk missing out down the line if another position opens up that proves a better fit for both parties. For a candidate, burning a bridge rarely helps your career. For employers, great talent is hard to find, and even harder to retain.

Be Patient

Remember: The hiring process often takes time. For candidates, it can be days or sometimes weeks after an interview before you learn whether you’ve earned the job. Also remember that these are extraordinary times. While candidates and companies are anxious to get back to work, it may take longer than usual to hear back, as society adjusts to widescale change in an ever-evolving situation.

Like with any economic downturn, a recovery will eventually happen, so it helps to stay positive and think long term. Don’t get discouraged. Be patient, be confident, and keep an open mind as you continue your job search.

We hope these tips and reminders lead to success. Have virtual job interview techniques of your own to share? We invite your comments below.


For more insights on successful interviewing and recruiting, check out Ultimate’s whitepapers the “Top 6 Things Candidates Are Tired of Hearing,” “Social-Powered Recruiting: For the Candidate,” and “Social-Powered Recruiting: For the Recruiter.”

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3 Comments

  1. Avatar Jeff Harry on April 13, 2020 at 8:30 am

    A virtual interview is the future of our generation. According to me, the candidate should focus on Set a process for how interviews will be run and communicate clearly and thoroughly with your teammates and candidates and Put your candidates at ease by sharing expectations, timelines, names of interviewers. Practice a compelling (virtual-only) company culture pitch, Follow up with a thank-you note, a request for feedback, and any next steps. I ace my interview with (https://getgeek.info/) by following these tips.

    • Karina Schultheis Karina Schultheis on April 16, 2020 at 9:55 am

      Great tips, Jeff, thank you so much for sharing!

  2. […] allow for easy interviewing but recruiters/hiring managers should not place any less emphasis on preparing for virtual job interviews just because they’re not in […]

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