Acing your next Zoom interview

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In 2020 Zoom became a major part of all our lives. For a number synonymous with clear vision, it’s ironic that in this particular year we didn’t really see the chaos that lay before us as we went sailing blithely into it. A raging pandemic separated us from other countries, our families, friends, work colleagues and clients, and so the age of Zoom began. Catch ups with friends, school lessons, board meetings, fitness classes and of course interviews all found their way to Zoom as we adjusted to our “new normal”. Fundamental changes have occurred as a result and it’s possible that your next interview will be a virtual interview. While many of the general rules for interviewing still apply - such as researching the role/organization and preparing talking points for answers (you can find more information on this in our Interview Tips article) - there are some additional points to take into account when prepping for this style of interview.

  1. Dress as you would for a face-to-face interview. A Zoom interview is not an excuse to be casual for an interview nor an excuse to represent the “business on the top, party on the bottom” mantra. Referring to the latter, you never know when you might have to hop up to calm a barking dog or plug in a laptop charger that has become dislodged. Best to be prepared and wear some pants!! You should also consider the psychological impact of being professionally dressed, this will remind you that you are taking part in an interview and assist you in acting accordingly.

  2. Prepare your environment.
    • Choose a quiet area of your home with good lighting.
    • Close windows and doors to reduce external noise distractions.
    • Tidy up the background area and clear away any items that could be distracting for the interviewer.
    • Make sure your laptop is fully charged and plugged in.
    • Make sure your internet is working well.
    • Test the video and audio on your laptop – if you’re not sure how to do this, ask Google. You should also consider doing a practice call to a friend or family member to make sure everything is working correctly.
    • Children and pets can be unpredictable in their behaviour. If at all possible have someone else look after them for the duration of the interview. If not arrange for them to be settled away from the camera.

  3. Familiarise yourself with the various settings of the video calling platform you will be using. While Zoom is one of the more commonly used, there are other video calling applications that an organisation may opt for instead. You may be required to download an app or sign in to a portal. It’s a good idea to do this well before your interview.  If you are unfamiliar with the application a test run of using it is essential.

  4. As crazy as it sounds, don’t be early. While it is always recommended to be early for a face-to-face meeting it is not necessary for a video meeting. In fact, you may be interrupting the end of another meeting/interview if you are early. You will be given a time to log in to the meeting and this is the time that you should be there. Of course, don’t be late either!!

  5. Wear headphones. This will block out any distracting background noise for you and also improve the sound quality of the call. Don’t worry, the appearance of headphones won’t look unprofessional to the interviewer.

  6. Use the mute button when the interviewer is speaking to you. This prevents them from hearing any interference from your end and will help them feel focused on what they are saying. If there is noisy interference from the interviewer side it is OK to mention that you are having some difficulties hearing, provided that if you are. It’s less likely to be well received if you ask the interviewer to mute themselves.

  7. Place extra emphasis on conveying good body language. This can be a lot more difficult through video than in person and it is essential you practice this in order for the interviewer to feel engaged with you.
    • Focus on maintaining eye contact – through video this does not mean looking at the interviewer, you need to be looking straight into the camera in order for it to appear to the interviewer that you are making eye contact. Don’t let your eyes wander as it will appear like you are not paying attention to the interview.
    • Sit up straight, with good posture. The interviewer can only see the top half of you so make sure you are presenting the half of you that they can see as well as you can.
    • Try to keep your hands out of view as much as possible, resting on your lap or on the table. Fidgeting with your hands can be an irritating distraction for the interviewer.
    • As your interviewer speaks, use nonverbal cues such as nodding and smiling to show that you are listening.

  8. Put your phone well away or put it on silent, and turn off any notifications on your computer. This might involve closing any social media websites like Facebook or video streaming websites like YouTube. You should set the interview to full screen so it is the only thing you can engage with on your screen.

  9. Of course, we all expect that someone who is interviewing on behalf of an organization we respect, and would like to work for, is also professional and will treat us with respect. And in 99% plus of the time this is the case.  However, if for any reason you begin to feel uncomfortable with the direction or the optics of the video interview you are entitled to suggest that you are feeling uncomfortable and request that it stop, or change, or that you will disconnect.  We understand that a disconnection will likely mean the role is not yours, but it may not be the right role for you anyway.

  10. When the interview comes to an end make sure you thank the interviewer like you would normally do and then click the button to leave the meeting. Make sure you are confident that you have ended the meeting before you stand up or make any comments to anyone close by about the interview.