Tips for a Successful Virtual Job Interview With Headphones

Updated August 25, 2023

Image description

A woman sits at a desk working on a laptop with a cat in the background. There is a list with the title "Tips for Completing an Interview With Headphones" and these tips:
• Schedule a video call with someone you know
• Test your headphones ahead of time
• Check your sound settings
• Charge your headphones

Many hiring managers prefer to conduct virtual job interviews because they're quick, convenient and easy to schedule. They're also a common interview option for remote work positions. If you're preparing for an upcoming virtual interview, then you may be wondering whether to wear headphones during your video call. In this article, we discuss why using headphones is important during a virtual job interview, list some popular types of headphones you can use and share some tips to help you use your headphones properly throughout the interview.

Related: Video Interview Guide: Tips for a Successful Interview

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Why are headphones important for interviews?

Wearing headphones during a virtual job interview is important because it ensures you can hear the hiring manager clearly. This can help you have a more productive conversation and improve your ability to answer their questions with confidence. Having headphones available is also a great way to minimize the risk of technical difficulties with your computer's internal microphone and speakers. This can show hiring managers you're prepared.

Related: 9 Audio and Video Tips To Nail Your Next Virtual Meeting

Benefits of using headphones during a virtual interview

There are numerous reasons you may choose to wear headphones during a virtual interview depending on your location and the technology you have available. Here are some benefits of using headphones during a virtual job interview:

  • Improved audio: Using headphones during your interview can improve the audio quality so you can hear the interviewer clearly. This can make it easier for you to answer their questions and improve your confidence.

  • Decreased background noise: Wearing headphones with a microphone can also limit the background noise your interviewer hears. This can help them concentrate on your answers and make you seem more professional.

  • Increased focus: Depending on the style of headphones you choose, you may be able to decrease noise from your surroundings. This can limit distractions and help you focus on your conversation with the interviewer.

Related: 11 Tips for Hiring Managers Who Use Virtual Interviews

7 types of headphones

Here are seven types of headphones and the benefits of using each one in a virtual job interview:

1. Over-ear headphones

Over-ear headphones use a popular design that covers your entire ear. Also known as circumaural headphones, this style is popular with people who are looking for full noise-cancellation so they can limit outside distractions. Over-ear headphones are one of the largest sizes of headphones available. This design makes them a comfortable option for people who wear glasses because the headphones cover the area around your ears instead of pressing directly on them, which alleviates pressure. Some of the most popular benefits of over-ear headphones include:

  • Excellent sound quality: Over-ear headphones can provide excellent sound quality because engineers have extra room to implement advanced pieces of technology that improve the tones you're able to hear.

  • Comfort: The large size of these headphones also gives manufacturers the option to include more padding, which can make them comfortable to wear during your interview.

  • Noise isolation: In addition to providing comfort, the extra cushion used to create over-ear headphones does an excellent job of blocking out background noise. This can make it easier to focus on what the hiring manager is saying during your job interview.

2. On-ear headphones

While on-ear headphones and over-ear headphones may look similar, on-ear headphones tend to be smaller. Instead of covering your ears, this design rests on top of them. Also known as supra-aural headphones, this option is also lighter and allows you to hear background noise, which may be beneficial if you need to be aware of your surroundings. Some of the most popular benefits of on-ear headphones include:

  • Fashion: On-ear headphones are a popular choice for many people because they come in a wide range of colors and styles. This makes them the perfect accessory for your interview outfit.

  • Portability: The lightweight and compact design of on-ear headphones also makes them more portable than over-ear headphones, which means they're easier to take with you if you're conducting your virtual interview from a location outside of your home.

  • Safety: On-ear headphones don't provide the same level of noise cancellation as over-ear headphones, which can make them a safer option if you need to be aware of your surroundings during your interview.

3. Closed-back headphones

Closed-back headphones use hard outer shells to direct the sound from their speakers into your ears. This style is one of the most popular options available today. Some of the most common benefits of closed-back headphones include:

  • Minimal sound leakage: The hard outer shell of these headphones traps sound inside, which limits the amount of noise other people can hear. This may benefit you if you plan to conduct your virtual interview in a room with other people because you can limit how much of your conversation is public.

  • Excellent sound quality: Closed-back headphones also do a great job of keeping bass tones intact by preventing them from escaping through the hard outer shell. This can improve the overall sound quality and make it easier to hear the questions the interviewer asks you.

  • Noise isolation: Similar to the over-ear design, closed-back headphones decrease background noise. This can make it easier for you to concentrate on your interview by limiting outside distractions.

4. Open-back headphones

Open-back headphones use a design that allows more airflow than closed-back headphones. Instead of pushing sound directly into your ears in one direction, open-back headphones let sound travel both into and away from your ears. Some of the most popular benefits of open-back headphones include:

  • Detailed sound quality: The open-back design allows noise to move freely, which can create a more detailed sound quality that can help you ensure you understand the interviewer clearly.

  • Breathability: This style of headphones provides extra ventilation to reduce sweat, which can be beneficial in an interview setting where you want to look your best and feel comfortable.

  • Safety: Similar to the on-ear headphones, the open-back design allows you to hear some background noise while using them. This can provide an additional level of safety if you need to be aware of your surroundings during your virtual interview.

5. Earbuds

Earbuds are one of the most popular headphone styles because they're included with the purchase of many phones and mobile devices. Designed to fit inside of your ears by resting in the outer ear canal, earbuds are also less bulky than other forms of headphones. This can make them a great option for candidates who don't want to wear a large headset during their interview. Some of the most popular benefits of earbuds include:

  • Comfort: Earbuds are lightweight and small, which means they don't put any pressure on your ear or the surrounding area. This makes them comfortable to wear during interviews.

  • Fashion: The small size makes earbuds almost undetectable, especially if they're wireless. You can pair earbuds with any interview outfit and look professional.

  • Affordability: Earbuds tend to be less expensive than other types of headphones, which can make them a great option if you need to purchase a pair of headphones just for your interview.

6. In-ear monitors

In-ear monitors are similar to earbuds, but they have a longer silicone tip that reaches farther into your ear canal. This sends sound directly into your ears. You can also purchase customized in-ear monitors that fit the shape of your ears for added comfort. Some of the most popular benefits of in-ear monitors include:

  • Fashion: Just like earbuds, in-ear monitors are small and practically undetectable, especially if you opt for a wireless version. This makes them easy to pair with your favorite interview outfit.

  • Noise isolation: Since in-ear monitors are closer to your eardrum than earbuds or other types of headphones, they provide better sound quality and block out surrounding noises. This can help you focus during your interview.

  • Excellent fit: Many in-ear monitors come with removable silicone tips. This makes it easy to find the size that works best for you so you can be comfortable during your interview.

7. Bone conduction headphones

Bone conduction headphones wrap around the outside of your ears and use vibrations to help you hear. This design sends sound waves through your middle and outer ear in a way that stimulates your cheekbones and jaw. Bone conduction headphones are an excellent option if you are in an environment where it may be challenging for you to hear the interviewer with traditional headphones. Some of the most popular benefits of bone conduction headphones include:

  • Safety: Since bone conduction headphones wrap around your ear, this design allows you to hear your surroundings easily. This may be an excellent choice if you need to be aware of what's happening in the background during your interview.

  • Comfort: Bone conduction headphones are lightweight and don't put any pressure on the outside or inside of your ear. Designed for long-term use, bone conduction headphones are a great option if you want to be comfortable during your interview.

  • Improved hearing: In addition to providing excellent sound quality, bone conduction headphones can improve your hearing. The design used to create bone conduction headphones is similar to the design used in hearing aids, which can help you ensure you hear every question the interviewer asks clearly.

Related: Virtual Interview Tips and Resources if You Can't Connect From Home

What's the difference between a built-in mic and an external mic?

In addition to different styles of headphones, there are two main types of microphones you can choose to invest in before your virtual job interview. While a built-in mic and an external mic can both be great options, there are some elements you may want to consider. Here are some of the key differences between headphones with a built-in mic and an external mic:

  • While standard headphones typically have a built-in mic included already, an external mic is an additional piece of equipment that you may need to purchase separately.

  • Built-in mics are small and portable, whereas external mics take up more space and may be stationary.

  • Built-in mics may pick up background noise, which decreases the audio quality, whereas external mics can capture your voice more clearly.

Related: 34 Home Office Essentials for the Working Professional

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Tips for completing an interview with headphones

Here are some tips to help you use headphones properly during an interview:

  • Test your headphones ahead of time. Purchase your headphones in advance and use them throughout the week leading up to your interview. This can help you ensure you feel comfortable with the design and functional elements of your headphones.

  • Schedule a video call with someone you know. Before your interview, schedule a video call with a friend, family member or colleague using the same platform the hiring manager plans to use. This can help you familiarize yourself with the software program and ensure you know how to connect your headphones to your computer.

  • Check your sound settings. Prepare for your interview by double-checking the sound settings in the software program you plan to use. Make sure you choose to use your headphones instead of your built-in computer audio to ensure the interviewer can hear you clearly.

  • Charge your headphones. If you're using wireless headphones for your interview, make sure you charge them the day before. This can ensure you have enough battery life to last through the entire interview.

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