Six tips to succeed in a virtual interview

Whether it’s for university, an apprenticeship, work experience or a job, here are all the tips you need

26 January 2022

Over the course of your life you’ll probably have to do several interviews.

Although going for your first interview can feel intimidating, they’re a really important part of most applications. It helps an employer or a university to understand your skills, knowledge and experience and whether that fits with what you’re applying for. But it’s also an opportunity for you to learn more about the role or the course. Think of it as a useful tool to help you decide if this is the right thing for you.

If you’re feeling nervous before an interview, don’t worry. Lots of people do! But the truth is, anyone can get better at interviews – the key is preparation and practice.  

We asked our friends at Barclays, sponsors of the Jobs badge for Brownies, to share their top tips on how you can succeed in your next virtual interview.

1) Revise your past experiences and knowledge

Interview preparation is similar to revising for an exam in a lot of ways. It’s a chance to think about your past experience and knowledge, and figure out how to match that up with what you know the interviewers are looking for. If you’re applying for university, that means making sure you know your personal statement inside and out. Be prepared to talk about everything you’ve mentioned in there, and develop on the ideas that interest you. 

If you’re applying for a specific apprenticeship or job, go through the job description point by point. For each item listed, make sure you match it to an example from your that shows off the skills needed.  

For example, if the description says that you’ll need excellent time management skills, think about a time when you’ve had to juggle lots of different deadlines. You could talk about handling homework for lots of different subjects, and how you had to balance that with any extra-curricular activities you do. Talk about ways that you kept yourself organised, and how you prioritised what the most important thing was.

This goes for all interviews, virtual or in-person, as does our next tip!  

2) Prepare for some common questions

While you’re preparing, it’s worth listing down some common questions that are asked in interviews.

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why have you applied for this job/course?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What are your biggest achievements?

Have a search online for example questions that fit the kind of interview you’re having and see if you can prepare your answers in advance. Your teachers or parents might be able to help too! A great model to work with is the STAR method. STAR stands for:  

Situation: Set the scene and give the necessary details of your example. 
Task: Describe what your responsibility was in that situation. 
Action: Explain exactly what steps you took to address it. 
Result: Share what outcomes your actions achieved. 

You can learn more about the STAR method and how to apply it to different kinds of interviews with Barclays’ interactive interview types tool.  

3) Test your technology

There’s nothing worse than putting in all the preparation, only to be frustrated by technology trouble!  

Sometimes the worst happens no matter what we do, but there are a few things you can do to prepare. Test your speakers, webcam, microphone and, if you’re using them, headphones to make sure that everyone on the call can be seen and heard clearly. It’s also good to test your internet connection. If you’re having internet problems at home, see if you can find a place to go with a better connection. You might be able to ask a teacher if you can use your school’s internet connection, or go to a friend’s. 

Whatever option you go with, make sure to organise it before the day of the interview so that you have time to make a new plan if any of your tests go wrong.  

4) Prepare the room

Make sure the space where you’re having the interview is as quiet and private as possible. You don’t want lots of people walking across the background and distracting from what you’re saying. Remember that you’re not the only thing on screen – the interviewers will see your background too! Make sure it’s as neat and tidy as it can be.   

Take some time to test angles with your webcam, and make sure that everything looks ok. A good tip is to elevate your laptop so that the camera is at eye level, and make sure that your face is well lit.  

If there’s not much you can do to clear your surroundings, remember that Zoom has a handy function to blur your background!  

5) Dress for success

This is just as important in a virtual interview as it is in person!  

Even though the interviewers will likely only be seeing your upper half, you don’t want to be caught out in your most comfortable pyjama bottoms if you have to stand up to make an adjustment! The easiest thing to do is just to dress as formally as you would for an in-person interview. Barclays have a handy guide that breaks down what different dress codes normally mean. 

6) Stay calm

If you feel like things aren’t going well, don’t worry! Remember to slow your answers down, and make sure you’re giving yourself enough time to think. If you’re getting mixed up in an answer, don’t be afraid to pause, take a breath, and ask the interviewer if you can start that last point again.  

Remember, the people who are interviewing you want you to succeed! All they want is to find someone who’s right for the course or the job. The fact that you’re even at the interview means that they already think there’s a chance you might be that person! This is your opportunity to prove them right.  

No matter what you’re interviewing for, remember that everyone has a different situation. If you have any adjustments or special requirements that would make a virtual interview easier for you, don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer ahead of time!  

If you want to have a proper practice, you can try out a mock interview using Barclays’ handy virtual interview practice tool. You’ll be able to record and play back your answers, so that you can see how to improve.