Preparing for a Virtual Interview

Preparing for a Virtual Interview

In addition to the general tips provided in the “How to prepare for your interviews – Virtual or In-person” section, there are several considerations for preparing for a virtual interview, including: 

Identifying Suitable Technology 

To complete virtual interviews, you will need the following: 

  • A strong and stable internet connection. You can check your internet speed at Sometimes switching from Wi-Fi to a wired ethernet connection improves your internet speed. If your home’s internet connection is too slow, consider going to a local library or finding space at your school where you can do the interview in a private room with stable Wi-Fi. 
  • A computer or tablet with a good webcam and microphone. Although a mobile phone may be used, we recommend using a computer or tablet to improve stability.  
  • Silence calls, alarms, or notifications. We recommend using a device that will not accept phone calls during interviews because a phone call will interfere with your ability to complete your response.  

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Practicing With Technology 

  • Practice responding with the device you’ll be using during the interview. 

    • For a live video interview, practice with peers or advisors. 

    • For an asynchronous interview, practice on your own so you can get used to responding without an interviewer present.  

  • If possible, record yourself so you can get a sense of your positioning on screen, eye contact, sound quality, and whether you’re fidgeting, swiveling in your chair, or making distracting gestures, such as covering parts of your face.  

  • Make a note of how the camera and microphone are positioned so you can recreate a setup that works when you log in to the system to complete your actual interview. 

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Selecting and Setting Up Your Environment 

  • Identify a private, quiet, well-lit space where you can complete the interview by yourself, free of potential distractions, and where you can speak freely. Make sure you have control over the background noise. Consider completing the interview at someone’s home (your own, a family member’s, or a friend’s), space offered by your school (study room, specific interview rooms, lab space, etc.), or personal office space. A professor or faculty member may be able to help you find space on campus, and your career services office may have rooms available to use for interviews.  

  • Avoid having sources of bright light such as sunlight and lamps directly behind you because they will cast a shadow on you. Instead, make sure a light source is in front of you so the interviewer can see you clearly. If you’re doing the interview at night, make sure there’s a lamp available that can light up your face. Consider the backdrop you will use during your interview and try to keep it clean and neat and free of distractions. Think about setting up virtual backgrounds across each of the most common interview platforms (e.g., Zoom, Microsoft Teams). This can include choosing the “blur my background” feature, choosing a pre-set virtual background in the platform, or uploading your own virtual background.  

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Considering your Presentation 

  • Dress professionally, as you would for an in-person interview.  

  • Try to be rested and focused. As with any formal interview, you want to be able to focus on understanding the questions, crafting coherent responses, and presenting your best self. 

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Setting Up for the Interview 

  • Double-check your microphone and camera to make sure they’re working well.  

  • Position the camera at eye level so it looks like you are looking directly at the interviewer. Be sure to look at your camera when speaking instead of looking at other participants.  

  • Shut down all programs on your device so that no alerts, notifications, or other electronic interruptions distract you. 

  • Make sure your device is fully charged. Carry a charger with you and make sure you can plug into an outlet in case there is a problem with your battery. When possible, plug into an outlet in advance of any battery issues.

  • Have a backup plan in case the technology fails ― this may be as simple as providing your phone number to the interviewer in advance. 

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Virtual Interview Etiquette and Zoom Fatigue

There are several steps you can take to ensure your virtual interview go smoothly and prevent zoom fatigue. Zoom fatigue, or video conferencing fatigue, arises when individuals spend too much time looking at computer/phone screens, and can manifest as emotional, psychological, and physical exhaustion.  Below are some recommendations for combating Zoom fatigue:

  • Become comfortable with the software using the tips in the “practice with technology” section above.

  • Log in early to avoid potential stress caused by last-minute log in.

  • Stand up and stretch in between sessions, if possible.

  • Make “hide self-video” as a default setting or automatically hide it after a few seconds once you know you are framed properly to avoid stress and fatigue resulting from increased self-awareness.

In group settings, it can be useful to mute the microphone when not speaking so that you spend less time worrying about maintaining a quiet environment during the virtual meeting. Additionally, try to focus on the interviewer instead of browsing other participants’ videos as it may induce fatigue when trying to process what is happing in multiple video windows.

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Peer-Reviewed Articles Published in Medical Journals About Virtual Interviewing

Bailenson, JN. Nonverbal overload: a theoretical argument for the causes of zoom fatigue. Technology, Mind, and Behavior. 2021;2(1). 

Bishop, T., Heinrich, L., Greenberg, J. B., Wenner, R., Furst, W., & Wong, J. (2022). The impact of virtual interviews on the resident applicant: a before-and-after comparison. Family medicine, 54(10), 833–835. 

Bullock, A.N., Colvin A.D., Jackson M.S. “All Zoomed out”: strategies for addressing zoom fatigue in the age of COVID-19. Springer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH. 2022.  

Daram, S.R., Wu R., Tang S.J. Interview from anywhere: feasibility and utility of web-based videoconference interviews in the gastroenterology fellowship selection process. Am J Gastroenterol. 2014;109(2):155-159.  

Domingo, A., Rdesinski, R. E., Cheng, A., Hatfield, J., Aylor, M., Walker, S., Cois, A., Singer, J., Sullenbarger, J., Hervey, S., & Stenson, A. (2022). Effectiveness of virtual residency interviews: interviewer perspectives. Family medicine, 54(10), 828–832. 

Edje, L., Miller C., Kiefer J., Oram D. Using Skype as an alternative for residency selection interviews. J Grad Med Educ. 2013;5(3):503-505.  

Eveland, A. P., Prado, L. G., Wilhelm, S. R., Wong, S., & Barsky, S. H. (2021). The virtues of the virtual medical school interview. Medical education online, 26(1), 1992820. 

Finney, N., Stopenski, S., & Smith, B. R. (2022). Applicant perspectives of virtual general surgery residency interviews. The American Surgeon, 88(10), 2556–2560. 

Huppert, L. A., & Babik, J. M. (2020). Best practices to successfully navigate a virtual interview: a five-step guide for hematology/oncology fellowship applicants. Journal of cancer education: the official journal of the American Association for Cancer Education, 35(5), 860–861. 

Huppert, L. A., Hsiao, E. C., Cho, K. C., Marquez, C., Chaudhry, R. I., Frank, J., Goglin, S. E., Hsu, G., Kathpalia, P., Khanna, R., Kompala, T., Rao, M. N., Bower, B. A., Trafas, V., Santhosh, L., Schwartz, B. S., & Babik, J. M. (2020). Virtual interviews at graduate medical education training programs: determining evidence-based best practices. Academic medicine: journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 96(8), 1137–1145. 

Lamberton, T., Tung, C., Kaji, A. H., Neville, A. L., Singer, G. A., Simms, E. R., Lona, Y., & Virgilio, C. de. (2022). Faculty scoring of general surgery residency interviewees: a comparison of in-person and virtual interview formats. Journal of Surgical Education, 79(6), e69–e75. 

Lee, E., Terhaar, S., Shakhtour, L., Gerhard, E., Patella, M., Singh, R., & Zapanta, P. E. (2022). Virtual residency interviews during the covid-19 pandemic: the applicant's perspective. Southern medical journal, 115(9), 698–706. 

Levine, J., Yerneni, K., DeBenedectis, C. M., Garg, A., Berggruen, S., Kelahan, L., Griffin, L., & Magnetta, M. (2022). Resident perspective of the virtual diagnostic radiology residency interview process: a national survey from the association of program directors in radiology. Academic Radiology. 

McCarthy, C. (2020). Develop successful interview strategies for virtual and traditional formats. Successful Registrar, 20(10), 1–7. 

Nwora, C., Allred, D. B., & Verduzco-Gutierrez, M. (2021). Mitigating bias in virtual interviews for applicants who are underrepresented in medicine. Journal of the National Medical Association, 113(1), 74–76. 

Otugo, O., Alvarez, A., Brown, I., & Landry, A. (2021). Bias in recruitment: A focus on virtual interviews and holistic review to advance diversity. AEM Education and Training, 5, S135–S139. 

Pasadhika S., Altenbernd T., Ober R.R., Harvey E.M., Miller J.M. Residency interview video conferencing. Ophthalmology. 2014;119(2):426-426.e5. 

Ponterio, J. M., Levy, L., & Lakhi, N. A. (2022). Evaluation of the virtual interviews for resident recruitment due to covid-19 travel restrictions: a nationwide survey of us senior medical students. Family medicine, 54(10), 776–783. 

Ponterio, J. M., Levy, L., & Lakhi, N. A. (2022). Evaluation of the virtual interview format for resident recruitment as a result of covid-19 restrictions: residency program directors' perspectives. Academic medicine: journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 97(9), 1360–1367. 

Pourmand A., Lee H., Fair M., Maloney K., Caggiula A. Feasibility and usability of tele-interview for medical residency interview. West J Emerg Med. 2018;19(1):80-86. 

Riedl R. On the stress potential of videoconferencing: definition and root causes of Zoom fatigue. Electron Mark. 2022;32(1):153-177. 

Robinson, K. A., Shin, B., & Gangadharan, S. P. (2021). A comparison between in-person and virtual fellowship interviews during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of surgical education, 78(4), 1175–1181. 

Seifi, A., Mirahmadizadeh, A., & Eslami, V. (2020). Perception of medical students and residents about virtual interviews for residency applications in the United States. PloS one, 15(8), e0238239. 

Shah S.K., Arora S., Skipper B., Kalishman S., Timm T.C., Smith A.Y. Randomized evaluation of a web-based interview process for urology resident selection. J Urol. 2012;187(4):1380-1384. 

Shreffler, J., Platt, M., Thé, S., & Huecker, M. (2021). Planning virtual residency interviews as a result of COVID-19: insight from residency applicants and physicians conducting interviews. Postgraduate medical journal, 98(1158), 276–280. 

Singh, A., Haddad, A. G., & Krupp, J. C. (2022). Reply: COVID-19, virtual interviews, and the selection quandary: How a program's digital footprint influences the plastic surgery match. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 149(6), 1263e–1264e. 

Steele, T. N., Prabhu, S. S., Layton, R. G., Runyan, C. M., & David, L. R. (2022). The virtual interview experience: advantages, disadvantages, and trends in applicant behavior. Plastic and reconstructive surgery. Global open, 10(11), e4677. 

Stephenson-Famy A., Houmard B.S., Oberoi S., Manyak A., Chiang S., Kim S. Use of the interview in resident applicant selection: a review of the literature. J Grad Med Educ. 2015;7(4):539-548. 

Strumpf, Z., Miller, C., Abbas, K. Z., Livingston, D., Shaman, Z., & Matta, M. (2023). Year two of virtual interviews: longitudinal changes and diverse perspectives. BMC medical education, 23(1), 41. 

Vadi M.G., Malkin M.R., Lenar J., et al. Comparison of web-based and face-to-face interviews for application to an anesthesiology training program: a pilot study. Int J Med Educ. 2016;7:102-108.  

Wicks, A.D. Minimizing zoom fatigue and other strategies for a successful synchronous class experience. Cambridge Scholars. 2021.  

Wiederhold, B.K. Connecting through technology during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic: avoiding "Zoom fatigue". Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2020;23(7):437-438. 

Williams, K., Kling J.M., Labonte H.R., Blair J.E. Videoconference interviewing: tips for success. J Grad Med Educ. 2015;7(3):331–333. 

Wolff, M., & Burrows, H. (2021). Planning for virtual interviews: residency recruitment during a pandemic. Academic Pediatrics, 21(1), 24–31. 

Yaman, G.B., Hocaoğlu Ç. Zoom Fatigue: A review. Current Approaches in Psychiatry. 2022;14(3):407-413.