How to ace your online interviews

Whether online or face to face, a good interview starts with quality preparation.

Video call

Think through:

1. Who will be interviewing you?

If HR, anticipate more general questions, if a technical or line manager the questions might be more specific to the job. Find out about the organisation and understand the job content as they are bound to test your understanding.

2. What will the interview involve?

Will you be talking face to face with someone in real-time, or is it a video recording where questions flash up on the screen or something else again? Use the Graduates First tool to practice recording yourself answering questions with a timer counting down, as this can feel strange if you’re not used to it. Why not stick a photo of a friendly face next to your camera? This will help to keep your focus in the right place and encourage you to smile!

3. What kind of questions are you likely to be asked?

Some recruiters will tell you exactly what to expect, but if not then the job description is a great guide. You can find lots of useful information on the Careers website and when you’re ready for a practice run, why not book a mock interview with a careers consultant or placement coordinator? This experience can help you refine your interview technique, discuss how you might approach tricky questions, and set you in a positive frame of mind for the real thing.

4. Do you need to ask for any reasonable adjustments?

If you’re managing a disability or long-term health condition that could affect your interview performance, we would encourage you to notify the recruiter’s HR department and ask for reasonable adjustments. These might be similar adjustments to those you receive with your academic work, for example, more time to answer questions. If you’re not sure how to raise this with a recruiter, we encourage you to talk it through with a careers consultant. Employers will want to ensure you’re not unfairly disadvantaged.

So you’ve prepared well, now comes the time to go online and complete your interview!

Much of our advice for face to face interviews also applies here, including:

  1. Dress appropriately – even if the interviewer can’t see you, dressing for an interview will help you to feel and act the part;
  2. Smile and focus on the interviewer (or camera) but feel free to glance away just as you would in a face to face situation.
  3. Know how to give a solid answer – Use the STAR technique for competency-based questions – see the Careers helpsheet for more help here. You may want to stick some prompts around your screen with key points that you want to cover.
  4. If you asked something you’re not sure how to answer, take some time to reflect. If you’re being interviewed live you can ask the interviewer to clarify or re-word the question.

Be sure to manage the practicalities of online interviews

  1. Ensure there are no distractions for the interviewer. Overhead lighting can distract by causing a glare so if you can, go for natural light and sit by a window. Look behind you – what’s on the wall? Is your laundry hanging out to dry? This is what the interviewer will see! What would it say about you?
  2. Find a place where you won’t be interrupted and mute your phone.
  3. Test your equipment, wifi connection, camera, sound levels and the programme being used well in advance if you can, and again a few minutes before the call is due to start.


Good luck!