Acing the Virtual Job Interview: 6 Tips for Nurse Practitioners

Last Updated/Verified: Dec 7, 2023

Although the recent job landscape has felt uncertain, employers are still hiring nurse practitioners with an increased reliance on virtual interviews. Even recruiters are hopping on the videoconferencing trend for evaluating candidates.

As a nurse practitioner, you may be more used to communicating with patients, hospital administrators, and other healthcare team members in person. Wondering how to stand out from the crowd while behind a screen? Here are some tips.

1. Upgrade Your Username

If you haven't already done so, be sure to create a professional-sounding username for all programs and applications that you intend to use for virtual interviews.

This confirms your true identity and displays a sense of professionalism, giving your potential employer nothing to raise an eyebrow at. After all, could you imagine holding an interview with someone whose username is in_jail_out_soon?

While you're at it, make a professional email to share with employers and recruiters. You have probably outgrown your ilovehellokitty@yahoo email anyway.

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2. Lights. Camera. Clothing!

As a nurse practitioner, you already know how to dress professionally, but your ensemble is especially on display during virtual interviews. This requires you to take further steps, as the mix of lighting, cameras, and computer monitors can wreak havoc on your wardrobe.

  • Avoid wearing clothing that either blends in or clashes with your background. Ensure that your clothing and background choices are not competing with each other. Speaking of background – it’s a good idea to do a sweep of what is visible behind you. Otherwise, you may not realize that your unmade bed or muted TV will show up in the background on-screen until it’s too late to do anything about it.
  • Avoid wearing white, all black, or bright-red. Regardless of the lighting in your chosen room, the colors will display differently on your prospective employer's computer screen.
  • Wearing white can overexpose your face and add a glow to their screen. Dressing in all black could do the same or worse—make you appear shapeless and blurry. Bright red colors also have the potential to bleed on screen and produce a halo effect for the viewer. All of these will distract the employer from what you really want them to see: your shining character.

3. Avoid the Slouch

In addition to making you look miserable on camera, slouching isn't professional. Instead of hunching over with your shoulders dejected, try the following.

  • Sit up straight, make eye contact, and smile
  • Rest your hands in your lap rather than crossing them over your chest or clasping them on the tabletop and keep hand gestures to a minimum
  • Refrain from fidgeting in your seat or messing with items on your desk
  • Avoid touching your hair and face

4. Eye-Opening Insight

Unexplained eye movement is distracting and can undermine the confidence you're aiming to project. Here are three ways to avoid those random eyeball swings:

  • Set a focal point near the camera on the screen, and speak directly into the microphone. Pretending that the camera is a person can help you maintain eye contact.
  • Print out all supporting documents, instead of having them pulled up on the screen for reference. This will allow you to refer to them with little movement or distraction to the person on the other side of the screen.
  • Hide your self-view. Even if it's up in the corner, you will be tempted to look at yourself. Every time your eyes shift away during the interview, it's noticeable.
  • Try your best to make sure you are in a quiet space free of noisy distractions such as pets and children. Not only can this interfere with how you hear your interviewers (and how they hear your responses), but constantly taking your attention off the video to tend to these disturbances can make for a disjointed and awkward interview.

5. From Formal to Personal

Virtual interviews have the potential to be stiff and formal, which can be worse than in-person interviews. To bridge the gap, here is a simple way to make a stronger connection.

  • At some point early in the videoconference, use the interviewer's name.
  • Without overdoing it, a simple and natural-sounding "Hello, Ms. Smith, great to finally meet you" can go a long way. If there are a few people conducting the video interview, remembering who’s who is also helpful – it is much more engaging to give a response such as, "Following up on Dr. Johnson’s question regarding my pediatric care experience, I’d like to go over my certifications.” Creating a personal connection is half the battle— especially when you are hundreds of miles apart. This little trick can help you feel more at ease too.

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6. Computer Savvy

You already know it's wise to check your internet connection, camera, and microphone well before a virtual interview. It's also important to ensure that you are familiar with the interview platform ahead of time.

But here are two things that you should never do on the day of a virtual interview:

  • Don't update your computer's operating system or the program application that you will be using for the interview. Updates can disrupt settings and cause delays, forcing you to uninstall and reinstall the program and potentially lead to additional issues. You don't need the added stress, so save the updates for afterward.
  • Never rely on your computer's battery to carry you through the interview. Be sure that you're plugged in ahead of time. Scrambling for a power source in the middle of an interview will make you appear unprepared, and the look of panic on your face won't send a comforting message either.

Julie Nyhus