Updated for virtual interviews- interviewing first impression fails.

Interviewing is one of the most stressful communication situations you will ever encounter. As the interviewee, you feel like the interviewer has all the power. If you have been job seeking for more than a few months, it may be difficult to feel confident. The voice in your head tells you this interview is just another firing squad of questions which will bring no results. Our self-esteem is fragile, and we become vulnerable. The virtual interview has further eroded confidence. The last thing you need is to start your interview off on the wrong foot from doing something that is very easy to avoid or correct.

Virtual interviews have added to this stress. Few people feel as comfortable meeting via computer as they do in person. In this blog I update my 2018 tips to include computer interview considerations. Just as there are first impression mistakes in person, there are just as many when meeting via screen. (And the last tip I haven’t seen ANYONE addressing!)

Barriers to good communication can pop up in many ways during an interview.

Barriers are perceived as hiding something, protecting something, or simply that you are less organized or sloppy. In the interview process, you cannot risk making a poor first impression.


When we are feeling vulnerable or less confident, it is natural to protect ourselves. (The more times you have been unsuccessful in your interviews, the easier it is to fall into this trap.) As humans, we want to protect our emotions and well-being. Physically, we do this by protecting our torso which is where our vital organs are and where we feel emotional- the heart. We cover our torso in what I call “the barrier.” Our resume folder or notebook is held across our chest when you stand up in the lobby on first greeting. A purse or briefcase crossing the body is another layer coming between you and your interviewer. Do not undermine your confidence by creating subconscious barriers between yourself and the interviewer.

2021- Virtual

You may think virtual removes the possibility of barriers, but there are other ways to “hide” from your interviewer. Many people make the mistake of positioning themselves poorly for the camera.

  1. Too close- when you are too close to your camera, your interviewer can’t see any body language and humans trust people less when they can’t see gestures. Plus, all your facial expressions (especially the uncontrollable flashes of disgust, anger or annoyance) are front and center. Being too close is the equivalent of invading someone’s personal space when in person. You wouldn’t “get in your interviewer’s face” in person, so don’t do it via computer either.
  2. Too far away- Some people do the opposite of too close and can look like they are far away. While we can see more body language, you also look small and diminutive. It will be difficult for an interviewer to see you as a confident and with leadership potential if you look like you are a wallflower at the dance. One way this can happen is by having the camera positioned too high above you. The perspective can make you look farther away than you think.

Too much “stuff”


Keep “stuff” at a minimum during an interview. If you have a notebook and pen, hold them in your left hand so you are open for the handshake. Keep to one briefcase or purse which stays on the ground or hangs at your side through the first impression greeting and handshake. If you have a coat, ask the receptionist if you can hang it up. If not, leave the coat on your chair until after the greeting.

2021- Virtual

“Stuff” manifests differently on screen. Anything in your environment which is distracting should be eliminated. Look at your background. A blank wall is too plain, but a crowded bookshelf will be too much. You want to be the star of your interview, not the family portrait hanging behind you. The same goes for jewelry. If you are wearing too many bangle bracelets, or earrings which jangle and are picked up by your microphone, take them off for the interview. Keep clothes simple and watch busy patterns which can distract.

Why is no one talking about glasses during the virtual interview?

What’s the one thing no one seems to be commenting on? Glare! That’s right. If you wear glasses, you must be doubly careful you don’t have white glare spots from your computer, ring lights, chandeliers or other light sources.

We know how important eye contact is in an interview and if you have been on any virtual calls or watched live videos with white spots on glasses, you know how difficult it is to see eyes. Want to solve this problem? Obviously, interview without glasses if you can. If you can’t, check with your eye doctor to see what low glare options may be available or order a few sets of disposable contacts just for interviews. Before spending any money, do some tests. Record yourself on a virtual call trying different camera angles and different light sources to find the one the combination which reflects the least.

Interviewing (and the virtual interview) is tough!

There is so much to remember like smiling, eye contact, posture and not crossing your arms—don’t let other “stuff” sabotage your interview from the start.

Feeling like you may need an interview practice session with a virtual communication expert? Let’s talk! Contact Moving Image Consulting at alison(at)movingimageconsulting.com.