Zoom interviews: Top tips for candidates

Interviewing via video is a very different experience than a face to face meeting. To help you prepare for the uniqueness of a Zoom interview and how you can take full advantage, here are our:

1. Test the Tech

If the tech fails you in some way, don’t panic. How you react to a problem is another way the interviewer can assess you.

You are unlikely to get a choice between Zoom, Teams, Meet, Skype etc so once you know the employer’s chosen tech, test it. Choose a professional profile name – your full name as it appears on your CV is ideal. Do a trial call with a friend – try with and without headphones to see what works best audio wise. If your laptop has a poor microphone or poor speakers, invest in a quality pair of headphones.

Check your internet connection too – an unstable connection may rule you out if there are plenty of candidates applying for the same position. Remember that if you likely to be working from home, the interviewer is also checking out the quality of your broadband connection! Close all other programs down on your computer – this will help keep the operating system focussed on your conference call and not on your emails or social media.

2. Sit properly.

This may seem like a strange tip (and more like something your mother might say to you) but it’s an easy one to get wrong. Try not to sit with a source of light (usually a window) behind you as that may turn you into a silhouette. Have the light source facing you so the interviewer can see your lovely face (avoid direct sunlight, obviously). Wherever possible, use natural light as artificial light isn’t particularly flattering on a computer screen.

Sit up straight, try to stay in the same position and make sure you’re not too close to the camera that the top of your head is cut off. Maintain normal eye contact with the interviewer. If you can have the interviewer’s video image close to the camera, then that will make it seem like you are looking directly at them rather than to the side or below. Elevating your laptop may be necessary so the camera is at eye level. We’ve all seen interviews on the tv where you get a great view of the interviewee’s double-chin!

3. Be aware of your background.

If you fancy a giggle, take a look at this account on Twitter: @ratemyskyperoom.

It’s clear that many people go to great lengths to choreograph their backgrounds and for others, they clearly don’t give it a second thought. Above all, make sure your background is not distracting but do consider having an aspect of your personality on show – it might be the perfect ice breaker. My advice would be to leave the computer-generated backgrounds for family Zoom chats although the blurry background on Teams seems to work well. Avoid bedrooms for interviews!

4. Try to restrict entry to other members of your household.

You want to show the interviewer that you are 100% serious about this job so if there is anyone else at home, make sure they know you are to be left alone! This includes children who are seeking permission for snacks or a pet looking for attention.

5. Don’t be late! But don’t be early either.

Often your interviewer is using the same virtual room for other interviews and given they may be new to Zoom interviewing as well, it’s best to login say two minutes ahead of your scheduled slot.

6. Keep pen and paper handy.

In a ‘normal’ interview setting, you are unlikely to be referring to notes or scribbling anything down. In a Zoom interview, you’ve got a great chance to do extra prep. It would not seem out of place for you to glance down at some questions you may wish to ask the interviewer or even to write down something the interview says that you would like to refer to later in the interview. If you don’t want to be seen to be looking down, position post-it notes around your computer with points you wish to get across in the interview. Asking insightful questions will show genuine interest in the position and could make all the difference.

7. Dress as you would for a face to face interview.

Even if your role is working from home, dress to impress. Don’t worry too much about the bottom half, as long as you’re confident you don’t need to get out of your chair for the duration of the interview!

8. Keep fidgeting to an absolute minimum.

The interviewer has little else to look out aside from you, so if you are touching your face or your hair too often, they will notice.

9. Be aware of your nerves.

And be aware of the consequences of your nerves. Keep your answers succinct and to the point. Yes, the interviewer wants to see your personality, but he/she also needs to get through their questions. If you don’t hear a question the first time, ask the interviewer to repeat it – they won’t mind. Try not to interrupt the interviewer – on a Zoom call this can appear far ruder than a face to face interruption.

10. Record your interview (if you can).

Some interviewers will disable the record function (understandably) but if they don’t, a recorded interview may be ideal to look back on and find room for improvement. If screen recording isn’t possible, you could set up a smartphone propped up near by (out of view).

11. Keep a glass of water handy.

Take a sip if you get a dry mouth or you start coughing. A sip of water can give you thinking time too.

12. Get your energy levels up!

Go for a walk before your interview – get the blood flowing. This will help with your enthusiasm and help you relax…but make sure you’re not out of breath!