Executives, Here’s How to Prepare for a Virtual Interview

Executives, Here's How to Prepare for a Virtual Interview

You’ll probably meet your next interviewer inside your home.

Approximately 75% of employers are now conducting remote interviews and onboarding sessions, according to a 2020 survey by Robert Half.

Increasingly popular, remote work (and interviews) have become the norm; companies like Facebook and GitLab are even creating new remote work executive roles. LinkedIn Insights noted 81% of talent professionals indicate they plan to continue virtual recruiting, even past COVID.

It’s only natural that Boards, executive teams, and other hiring authorities will expect to interview, screen, and hire you using the same methods.

Follow these steps to prepare for a virtual executive interview that clearly demonstrates your fitness to lead, influence, and execute on strategic priorities:


Leverage your own virtual hiring insights.

Perhaps you’ve staffed new leadership, technology, or finance teams in offshore or other locations – even prior to COVID-19. Now you can put YOUR remote hiring practices to good use – while envisioning yourself on the other side of the hiring table!

virtual interview candidateWhat qualities did you seek in candidates during the video or remote hiring experience? What were common “fails” you noticed among competing applicants? Make note of any limitations you observed during interviews and spend time brainstorming ways to avoid them.

For example, your communications style will need to be more enthusiastic to come across properly on Zoom or other video platforms.

Employers are looking for strong leaders who can convey strategic goals to their (also remote) teams, likely using the same communication medium. It’s best to record yourself to note how clearly your personality and drive come through on video.

You may also have noticed some candidates continually shift their attention between looking at the camera and at their notes. Practice your success stories to ensure this information is top-of-mind and to ensure you’re giving the camera your undivided attention.


Prepare your virtual interview space.

Lighting, background, and appearance are key to a successful remote interview. You’ll find these elements help boost your confidence.

virtual interview backgroundPosition your laptop near a light source to help illuminate your surroundings. You can also purchase a ring light for a more flattering look.

Choose a non-cluttered, quiet area of your home to ensure the best background for your interview – or choose a background that evokes your professional image, according to Harvard Business Review. Of course, you’ll fare best when setting up these elements well ahead of time.

According to Kim Brettschneider of executive recruiting firm WittKeifer in How to Ace the Virtual Interview, a few minutes of physical preparation, some interview notes, and practice can make the difference in handling a virtual interview with ease.

Last of all, dress as you would for an in-person meeting, with the business attire expected in your industry and at your executive level. Hiring authorities are expecting the same leadership presence you’d display if you were sitting in the Boardroom.


Prepare your interview talking points.

Not only will you need to anticipate “typical” interview questions, you’ll want to be aware of the unique value you offer as a candidate.

interview talking pointsSet aside time to look for patterns and themes in your background, including achievements that demonstrate leadership, agility, and a record of results. You might have earned a reputation for new strategic projects, technology improvements, employee motivation, or consistent growth.

For example, a COO in technology operations tasked with managing digital product development teams, project management organizations, and international operations could note “global team management, virtual talent hiring and management strategy, and strong data science” as key areas of strength.

To elicit more talking points for yourself, scrutinize your resume for key points on your career trajectory. If you’ve previously been recruited to turn around a challenged organization, negotiated vendor cost savings, or played a key role in M&A strategy, make notes of why you were asked to head these initiatives and what bottom-line benefit you delivered.

As mentioned in Harvard Business Review, recruiters are looking for your storytelling abilities, rather than a recitation of the facts on your resume. Carefully construct several career success stories of less than 3-4 minutes for the best impact.


In summary, don’t fear the video interview for your next executive job – embrace it instead!

Get ready with a camera-worthy presence and solid information on your distinctions as a well-qualified leadership candidate.

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