Master the Art of the Virtual Interview: “GET TO YES!”

The second of our four-part series: “GET TO YES!” Mastering the Art of the Virtual Interview

Create An In-Person Interview Experience From Home

Video calls may have become a daily norm for you.  After several months of daily video calls, you might think you’re an expert. But video meetings with team members is very different than video interviews. It is a common assumption that video interviews are less challenging than in person interviews, but that assumption is wrong.  They are different, but no less challenging.

One major challenge to conducting a job interview in your home is the possibility of distractions and disruptions. These can be anything from children interrupting meetings, to alerts on your phone. These interruptions can be a welcome relief from the monotony of regular Zoom meetings, and a way to get to know your co-workers better, but they may create an unintended impression during a formal interview.


We have conducted upwards of 100 virtual interviews since March both preparing our clients and interviewing executives. We conduct many mock video interviews with our leadership clients, and we hear feedback from those that subsequently interview them. In addition, we conduct interviews for marketing and administrative talent for our own company. We have found that avoidable mistakes are made during entry level interviews and at the C-level . Even the most accomplished high level leaders can make the wrong impression during video interviews due to mistakes that are easy to prevent.


When you interview in-person, your environment is managed by your interviewer. Any distractions or interruptions are their responsibility to manage.  When you interview from home, any unplanned interruptions on your side of the call are attributed to you and are your responsibility.

Any type of disruption or distracted behavior can be interpreted as your inability to manage your working environment, or a lack planning skills, or even that you are not taking the opportunity or the interviewer seriously.

And if you have not prevented an interruption from happening, you must manage the interruption, whether it be a child, a pet, a ringing phone or a package delivered. Managing the disrupter can interrupt your flow, make you stumble and distract the interviewer from your message.

Everyone’s home environment is different. Once your surroundings are well suited, the next step  is to further reflect on your circumstances:

  • What potential interruptions or distractions could give the impression that I have not mastered my environment or my behavior?
  • What could make me look scattered, unfocused, cavalier or less respectful? And what can I do to prevent making the wrong impression?


Given our video interviewing experience, as well as feedback we have received regarding our client’s interviews, we have compiled a “CHECKLIST” to avoid common video interview mistakes.

  • Nothing can be more disruptive and distracting than a bad connection. Check your Wi-Fi connection prior to the interview. If you don’t have a strong enough connection, purchase a Wi-Fi booster or go to an office with a highly reliable connection.
  • Find a place in your home that is quiet and low-traffic. If you don’t have a home office, consider going to a quiet office outside of your home.
  • Have a childcare plan in place for the duration of your interview. Ask a trusted caretaker to take them out or ensure they are cared for at home, far from your home office, and by someone who makes them feel comfortable.
  • Keep pets out of the room, and for noisy pets keep them out of the house and yard. Have a trusted caretaker take them for a walk during your interview.
  • Let other members of your household know of your interview. Give them notice of what time your interview will take place, with buffer if the interview takes longer than expected.
  • Keep your doors closed, and if possible your office locked. Be sure to leave a sign on your office door indicating that you are not to be interrupted.
  • Close windows to minimize noises from outdoors, such as garbage trucks, a friendly passerby, or neighbor’s leaf blowers. If you have landscapers, schedule them at another time.
  • Try not to schedule deliveries or household work during your interview.
  • Leave a sign on your front door stating no knocking or ringing the bell. Some clients take it a step further and disconnect their doorbell if it can be heard from their home office. It gives them peace of mind.
  • Keep your video conference window open to full screen for the duration of the interview and close out all other applications. Turn off your visual notifications/pop ups. This limits your potential distractions and prevents you from appearing distracted as well.
  • Turn off all sound notifications on all devices, including your landline if it can be heard within your interview space.
  • Ensure that your camera is in the same line of sight as the image of your interviewer and maintain eye contact as you would do in person. Be sure to focus on your interviewer; don’t give the impression that something more interesting is happening outside of the camera view.


It is vitally important that your video interview space looks like a professional office. The interviewer will assume that your video space will be your workspace when and if you are hired. Read our article on What Your Surroundings Say About You for more tips on looking the part from home.


Assuming you want to “Get to Yes,” remember that you oversee what happens on your side of the video connection. You are judged by your ability to manage your side of the equation as well as their perception of your commitment – be sure your interviewer knows that you take them seriously by doing the extra work. Let them focus on your experience, accomplishments, capabilities, personality and style. If you follow the checklist, these potential barriers between you and your interviewer will disappear, almost as if you are sitting in their office.

Read Part One Here:


Founded in 2001, Waterman Hurst provides strategic career transformation, professional branding, and comprehensive job and board search services to leaders. We serve CEOs, C-Suite Executives, Next Level Executives, and Emerging Leaders who engage us for our unique expertise, services and networks. We are an exclusive B2C provider of high end, high touch career services.

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