Before the interview
Preparing in advance for an interview is always sound advice, but Zoom and other virtual interviews present unique challenges with technology, as well as your environment, appearance and communication skills. Make sure you cover the following bases for your interview
1. Prepare for the interview as though it was in person.
Remember you are speaking with a potential employer. You must be knowledgeable about the position; must understand the company; be ready to answer and ask questions and know your audience. So forget you are doing this before a camera and prepare as if the interviewer was sitting across from you in the same room.
2. Have your resume ready, and study the job description.
You will need your resume for reference, so make sure it’s updated and addresses the specific job you’re applying for. You will need to articulate to your interviewers how your skills and experience make you the best person for the job, no matter what type of video interview you’re preparing for.
3. Make sure your computer is up to date and fully charged.
The last thing you need is your Zoom application not opening because the computer needs an update or for your laptop to shut down because it has lost power. Ensure that your computer is up to date and that all of your applications have the latest updates installed. You should also keep your laptop plugged in throughout the interview.
4. Choose a spot with great lighting.
Outside light coming into your home changes depending on the time of day, so what you may think is a perfect interview room might not be when the time comes. Check out how your space is lit at different times and have a backup solution if the interview is scheduled for a time that does not work for that room. For example, change rooms if you can, and if not, then play around with your location in the room until you find the best angle.
5. Set up your background.
Whether you’re interviewing from a home office or studio apartment, you can still make a great impression by keeping it clean, organized and free of distractions. If you can’t find a blank spot for your background, keep it as neutral as possible. You can achieve a more flattering look by putting some distance between you and your background. Experts recommend at least two feet if possible.
6. Ready your equipment.
Check your Internet connection and if the microphone, audio, and camera work. We suggest connecting with a friend as a test, making sure you can hear and see each other.
7. Use the webcam or camera app to see what’s in the frame.
With the background and lighting in place, open the webcam or camera app on your computer to check what’s in the frame. Adjust your background, if necessary, and see if you need to lift your laptop or monitor so that you’re better positioned on the screen.
8. Banish pets, children, other family members, or roommates to another room.
As J.T. O’Donnell, founder & CEO at WorkItDaily.com, says, distractions can kill your interview
9. Silence all notifications.
Close all other applications on your phone and/or computer, so you stay focused. Notify anyone who might call you that you’ll be in a job interview and put your phone on silent mode until it’s completed.
10. Go on a dry run.
Interviewing on camera is different than in person. Practice with a friend or family member to get a feel for being on camera, so you’re more comfortable when the time comes. In Zoom you can record your session, so use this feature to record yourself answering some practice questions before the actual interview and note how you can improve your posture and delivery.
11. Cover your bases.
Another good reason to practice ahead of time is to find out where you might run into issues (e.g., sound problems or a shaky connection). Take steps to minimize the chance of mishaps. For example, using earbuds or headphones will drown out the noise and keep the dreaded conference call echo away.
12. Dress to impress.
Choose solid colors, as patterns on your clothes can distract or even annoy interviewers. Stripes tend to give off a strobe effect on video, for example. Opt for neutrals like gray, navy blues and shades of brown. If you want to add a pop of color, go with soft pastels, red and black can be unflattering on video, while brighter colors such as yellow or bright pink can distract viewers.
During the interview
13. Arrive early for your interview.
You don’t have to show up 15 minutes early, as would be expected for an in-person interview but aim to log in a few minutes early so you’ll be already there when the session starts. Timeliness makes a good impression.
14. Be mindful of your body language.
Just the way you appear is a form of communication, and interviewers often use it to read your attitude, so be aware of how you project yourself on video. How you sit, gesture, move your eyes and head can all play a part in how you’re evaluated for the position. You want to be likable, so aim to appear confident yet approachable; warm yet serious; friendly, positive, trustworthy and genuine.
15. Speak slowly and listen carefully.
Live virtual interviews sometimes come with delays or connection lags, so be sure to slow down and speak clearly. It’s also critical to give the interviewer your attention when they speak, not only out of respect but also to understand what is being said.
16. Act naturally.
It might feel weird to communicate through a screen but imagine that you’re talking to the interviewer in person. You’re holding a conversation, and they’re getting to know you as a candidate.
17. Respect the interviewer’s time.
It’s not as easy to judge time when on video, so follow the interviewer’s pace and glance at the clock on your device occasionally, so you don’t overextend yourself.
18. Use mute to your advantage.
Life happens, and outside noises, like the garbage truck driving through or a noisy neighbor, are hard to control — and predict. Whenever you’re not talking, mute yourself so the hiring manager or recruiter can talk without background interruptions.
19. Don’t get too comfortable.
Our guards tend to be down when we’re in our environment, so, naturally, you might be more relaxed during a video interview in your home. That’s why it’s important to stay on top of your game. An overly relaxed and casual vibe will convey disinterest in the position, and the interviewer might not take you seriously.
20. Make sure you end the call.
After thanking the interviewer and saying your goodbyes, remain quiet until you know for a fact that the Zoom call ended and you’ve exited the app. This will help you avoid any embarrassing situations with your potential employer.