The Virtual Interview – a Change for the Better

Job interviews are a necessary part of corporate life, and something that almost anyone who has ever earned a paycheck has had to do at some point. For the candidate, interviewing means dazzling strangers that hold the fate of their employment in their hands. Employers have the challenge of assessing often equally qualified candidates to determine who will be the best fit for the role and their team. And for now that means virtual interviewing.

Regardless of which side of the table you find yourself on, one thing is clear – the pandemic has changed the way we interview… at least for the foreseeable future. According to, more than 86% of interviews began being conducted virtually last year.

I recently reached out to my network of professionals to find out more about their experiences with virtual interviewing since the world turned upside down. Here are the biggest takeaways of what to expect out of the interview experience in 2021.

The Stressors of Interviewing have Changed (For the Better)

Everyone I spoke to had one common thing to emphasize… interviewing on Zoom just makes the process easier.

Heading to a new office location for an interview can be daunting. Logging GPS, navigating unfamiliar traffic fluctuations, budgeting time before and after on a work calendar. In-person interviews can be time consuming, and nerve wracking.

And while there is the added stress of technology, those that are interviewing all reported that it takes a significant amount of anxiety out of the equation to know exactly what their set up will look like and that there won’t be an unforeseen delay in getting to their appointment.

Location is no Longer a Limiting Factor

With so many companies and organization staying remote through at least the end of 2021, candidates can now think a little bit more out of the box about the geographical location of roles to which they apply, and employers can cast their net even further than before.

“We’ve been able to have a wider array of candidates from which to choose because is no longer limited to just DC and the surrounding area,” wrote Monica Grover, Special Assistant to the Chief of Race, Wealth and Community at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. “Though we are based in DC, we work with interns in the UCDC program based in California. We recently brought on a team member based in California and one in Pennsylvania.”

Efficiency is Optimized on Both Ends

Both candidates and employers noted that interviews are more streamlined in the midst of the pandemic.

“Virtual interviews have allowed us to be more efficient during the interview process,” notes Grover. “Length of interviews have been shorter virtually versus previously in person.”

For candidates, interviewing in the pandemic has meant not taking a half day out of their schedules for each round of meetings. “I interviewed with [my new employer] four times before getting an offer,” one candidate noted. “It was great to know exactly how much time I needed to block on my calendar. I didn’t have to make up bi-weekly doctors’ appointments.”

Priorities have Shifted for Everyone

Employers across the board reported that they are looking to understand how candidates have demonstrated resiliency and flexibility in the last year.

“We are looking for candidates who are flexible,” wrote Grover. “We are looking for candidates who are able to thrive working remotely.”

Company culture and office environments are taken into consideration differently than before the pandemic. A former client noted that she used to get hung up on every aspect of an office space when walking into an interview, but those environmental factors just aren’t important anymore and she is almost exclusively pursuing remote work opportunities.

“I have discovered I can do my job really well from home,” she said. “Office environment isn’t important to me at all anymore because I just don’t see myself working in person any time soon.”

Zoom Etiquette is Critical

I used to meet with clients and ask them to practice shaking my hand ahead of interviews. Gosh… remember handshakes? Not so commonplace in interviews these days.

But while candidates aren’t stressing over matching their belt to their shoes for virtual interviews, or rehearsing grip strength, there is a whole new class of interviewing etiquette to keep in mind.

These things have been replaced with eye contact, voice clarity, Zoom background, lighting and camera placement – a virtual interview is still a first impression that can make or break a candidate’s ability to land the job.

Check out Julia’s best practices for video interviewing here.


Holian Associates provides strategy, resources and coaching for every stage of your career. If you need help with personalized career coaching, job search strategy, career transition, resume creation, LinkedIn development, interview preparation,  professional strengths coaching, salary compensation & benefits coaching, or navigating your job search as a college student or recent college grad, email us at or give us a call at (925) 451-3183.

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