Online interview? Here’s how to make a positive impact

Asian woman on a video call at home, working from home

At this time, most interviews are happening online. While some people may find this easier, it does provide some limitations of the ‘tools’ you have to engage effectively with the interviewer(s).

This means that every aspect of your impact carries more weight. Here’s how to make the most of the tools available and ensure that you make a positive impact during that online interview.

Get the basics right (still)

Of course what you say matters. This is a basic that has to be gotten right regardless of how the interview is taking place.  It’s vital you carefully plan your key answers and, think through and practice articulating your key experiences clearly.

Top tips are:

  • Give the right amount of context – too much leads to interviewers getting lost, too little means they don’t grasp the situation well enough
  • Have a clear explanation of what you did and the ultimate outcome.

Having this basic mastered is just the beginning of making a positive impact. Let’s now look at how to take it even further.

Seven ways to make a positive impact at an online interview

Your goals here are to: be in control of how you communicate yourself outside of your words, and to build rapport. These are as crucial as the words you say.

When helping my clients prepare for their online interviews, we prepare for these seven key areas.

  1. Test the technology as far as possible – this might sound obvious but one of my clients fumbled with the tech and was criticised for it. Find out in advance which technology will be used and, if possible, test it with a friend so you know how its basic functionality works. You don’t want the stress or, the focus to be on you working out the tech.
  2. How much space you occupy – make sure you take up an appropriate amount of the screen. You don’t want to be a small speck floating amongst the background of your room. Equally, you don’t want to be ‘in their face’ with your face occupying almost all the screen.
  3. How much of you to show – make sure you have at least some of your chest area showing so there is the opportunity to show the odd hand gesture. It is hard to use these gestures as effectively as in person but try and introduce this key aspect of body language.
  4. Consider your background – avoid having anything too interesting in the background or anything that is challenging to discern what it is. You want to avoid the interviewer(s) spending time working out what’s behind you rather than engaging with you. Think about the impression you want to make personally – the background needed to support this.
  5. Good posture – keep upright in your chair and be wary of letting your head go to one side, even if you are listening. Another unusual one to watch out for is the curse of the chair on wheels – I did a practice interview with a client who kept twisting round slightly with nerves, but the wheels on their chair made it more exaggerated. It was very distracting!
  6. Avoid the temptation to have a load of notes – you wouldn’t have these in-person, so it’s not a good plan just because the interview is virtual. It’s obvious if you are looking in another direction to check them. Also, there is a risk they’re a distraction and you answer a different question to the one you were asked.
  7. Speak clearly and at a reasonable pace – this is even more important online as you can’t be certain how clear the connection is. Look for cues that they are not following what you are saying. so you can check in.

Final advice…

Plan just as carefully for an online interview as you would for one in person and definitely plan for the aspects which are different. All of this is crucial to having the positive impact you need to help you get that role.

More help

If you’re looking for a new role, or know someone who is, then head to my website, ‘Resources’ section. There’s lots more free guidance such as this 14 minute webinar Get That Job which is packed full of tips.

If you’d prefer a more intensive and personalised approach to getting a new role, including mock interviewing and working on improving how you come across, then contact me for an initial free conversation.

About the author

Joanna GaudoinJoanna Gaudoin, Inside Out Image specialises in helping ambitious professionals and their organisations improve performance and achieve their goals.

She does this by helping them master and strategically use the business skills of Personal Impact and Relationship Management. These skills are required for professional success.

Before establishing Inside Out Image, Joanna worked in marketing and consultancy in large corporates. She understands the business world and its challenges. She now helps organisations and individuals understand how to succeed in it.


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTheCity has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here

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