Dos and Don’ts of the Virtual Job Interview

by Tracie Chancellor

Job interviews have been around since the days of Fred Flintstone, even before Thomas Edison invented the modern job interview in 1921 however, the virtual job interview is something relatively new in time. This article probes the strangely interesting tendency of modern-day virtual job seekers to generalize the freedom and flexibility that goes with a work from home job to the interview process to land a work from home job. We see people throw the time-honored norms of job interviewing to the wind on a regular basis in surprising, sometimes shocking ways. Virtual job interviewing creates opportunities, loopholes may be a better description, that don’t exist when you are sitting face to face across a physical desk with an interviewer.

For example, it is not possible for a job applicant to be driving down the freeway at 70 mph playing the radio when they are sitting across the desk in a recruiter’s office in a building.

Many of the things that happen in the realm of the virtual job interview world would simply never happen in a traditional face to face interview because for one reason, they would not be possible and for another, because of the “anything goes” mindset exhibited by some interviewees.

The job itself may come with more freedom and flexibility however, the same traditional rules of job interviewing apply to a job interview for a work from home job. One must first be offered a job before realizing the benefits of the job.

Employers are looking for great workers and great workers are great regardless of where they are working. The indicators of greatness are timeless and apply to virtual job interviews as well as traditional face to face interviews.

  • Be on time. “Early is on time, on time is late and late is unacceptable!” was a phrase coined by the author Eric Jerome Dickey. Be a little early but not too early, 10 or 15 minutes early is a practical step an applicant can take to allow time to work through any possible technology issues. Your prospective employer will see that
    • You have respect for the recruiter’s time
    • You can begin a task without procrastination
    • You are interested in the position
    • You have acquired the skill of punctuality

Late arrival is a key indicator of work ethic. It says that you don’t pay attention to details.

  • Submit paperwork on time. In 1921, Edison served soup as a way to screen people out. If the applicant put salt or pepper on their soup without trying it first, they were automatically voted off the island. Today, there are new, automated and more efficient ways to sift through resumes and/or vote people off the island however, the concept of screening out the obvious, remains firm. Paperwork is likely to be virtual paperwork however, submitting paperwork correctly and on time is a sort of timeless work performance report….before you are even offered the job, a modern day counterpart to Edison’s salt and pepper test. Employers want to know that you can follow instructions and make deadlines. If you don’t submit the paperwork correctly and on time, the interviewer may be wondering if you can follow instructions or worse, if you can understand instructions.


  • Be present. Being present in the moment is key to a successful interview. Even in a virtual job interview without video, the interviewer will sense when the interviewee is distracted and feel a lack of interest on the part of the interviewee. There are so many ways to become distracted, it is important to deliberately clear space, both literally and mentally in order to be present in the interview.

In today’s age, it is common for people to be listening without really listening. Stephen Covey said “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”  In a face to face interview, most people would not think to start texting their spouse in the middle of a conversation, however, we have found it to be remarkably common for people to be engaged in various tasks while on a job interview. The job interview is not a good time to multi task.

Another way to be present is to be prepared. Take some time to research and understand how your background is relevant to the position and the company. By being present, the interviewer will feel that they have your full attention.

We thought we would share some of the “not to dos” of virtual job interviewing based on a list of actual occurrences that have happened at one time or another on real life virtual job interviews. Most of these would not have occurred in a traditional face to face interview and we hope not to see them in the future. Here are a few:

  • Do not put your interviewer on hold while you flip over to take another call
  • Do not spill your T to the recruiter – Your recruiter is not Dr. Phil. If there are Jerry Springerish dramas going on in your life, it is best to leave them outside the virtual door.
  • Remove the inappropriate photos/images from your computer screen before your technical interview – The recruiter may need Dr. Phil if you don’t.
  • Do not drive down the freeway with your kids and dogs in the car while on a virtual job interview
  • Do not have the TV blaring in the background
  • Do not watch TV while on the virtual job interview
  • Do not flush the toilet while on a virtual job interview
  • Do not multi task
  • Do not clang pots and pans or wash dishes while on the virtual job interview
  • Do not yell at your kids, spouse, dog or neighbor while on the virtual job interview. If you have an emergency, remember there is a mute button.
  • Do not have your spouse swearing in the background
  • Do not have the leaf blower outside the window while on the job interview
  • Do not have dogs, babies, farm animals, chirping birds or kids making loud noises in the background
  • Do not have your teenager do your technical interview
  • Do not have inappropriate items popping up on your computer screen during the technical interview
  • Do not talk over the interviewer
  • Do not talk over other job applicants while on a virtual group interview
  • Do not clink ice cubes while slurring your words
  • Do not cook a meal while on the interview
  • Do not talk non stop with no pauses for long periods of time
  • Do not do your grocery shopping while on the virtual interview
  • Do not talk about non relevant topics for extended periods of time
  • Do not jog, walk on your treadmill or shovel snow while on the virtual job interview
  • Do not play loud music in the background
  • Do not be actively working at your other job while on a job interview
  • Do not have your teenager playing loud music in the background
  • Do not float on a raft in your pool or fall off your raft while on the interview
  • Do not clomp around the floor while on the interview
  • Do not start your car and make loud beeping noises when you open the car door
  • Wear clothes during video interviews
  • Wear appropriate clothes during video interviews

Ideally, put your best foot forward just as you would in a traditional face to face interview and keep in mind that in work from home jobs, controlling your home office environment is up to you, not the interviewer. There are many great work from home opportunities that exist today. It’s ideal to receive multiple job offers so that you have more options. We wish you the best in seeking your ideal work from home job.


About the Author

Tracie Chancellor, CEO and Founder of TeleReach Corporate, national business to business call center specializing in sales appointment setting and lead generation, based in Houston, Texas. Chancellor is an MBA graduate of the University of Houston with over 20 years hands-on sales and marketing experience, working with privately-held businesses, universities, non-profit organizations, as well as Fortune businesses in the business to business marketing space.