10 tips for a successful interview on Zoom
From creating great lighting to what to do if your screen freezes mid sentence, let us help you brush up your video-call etiquette for virtual job interviews
With lockdown restrictions still in place, everything has moved to video conferencing; from family gatherings to job interviews. With a full year of Zooming behind us, our energy to create picture-perfect backgrounds might have waned but it is important to set the tone correctly when using this technology to get a new job. To help you prepare, here are our top 10 tips for a successful interview on Zoom.
- Dress for success
There has been a lot of focus on our descent into loungewear since the pandemic struck, but this is no time for comfy clothes. Dress as you would if you were going to the job interview in person. Ask yourself, ‘What would I wear IRL?’. If that would be a suit or a dress or a smart-casual outfit, match it for Zoom. And don’t just dress from the waist up. You’d never forgive yourself if you need to stand up for any reason.
- Get the lighting and camera angle right
Lighting is crucial when it comes to video calls and a Zoom job interview is no different. The best lighting is natural light, so try to position yourself near a window. If this isn’t possible, set up some lamps in the place you plan to Zoom. The light source should be in front of you, whether it’s a window or a lamp; if it’s behind you, you will appear in shadow. For the ideal position, raise your laptop so you are looking directly into the camera, or slightly upwards into it for a more flattering, double chin-banishing angle (only slightly, though – you don’t want to crane your neck). To achieve this, you can use a stand or stack your laptop on top of some books.
- Sense check your background
Before you log on to any call, start by turning on your camera and looking at yourself on screen so you can see what your interviewer will see. This is best done by starting a new call rather than joining the interview call, as sometimes this will automatically patch you through. Is there anything in the background you wouldn’t want them to see? Like a messy room, a pile of laundry, or a piece of artwork that might not be appropriate for the workplace? This seems obvious, but it is definitely one of our most important Zoom interview tips. And if you still aren’t happy with what you see, use a background filter – but do choose carefully, as you want to project an air of professionalism.
- Use a laptop – and double-check your name
For a successful interview on Zoom, we would advise using a laptop and ensuring it is plugged in or. fully charged. This will frame you in a bigger picture, giving your potential new boss a better look at you. Zoom also tends to work better on laptops. If you have to use your phone, make sure you set it securely in a stand or prop it against something. Don’t hold it in your hand as the image will wobble around, and it will stop you using your hands to communicate.
- Silence apps and phones
We all know to silence our phones during a job interview – and Zoom interviews are no different – but you should also consider your laptop. Close down your emails and any noisy notifications. Not only will the sound of these pinging through interrupt the conversation, notifications flashing up on screen are distracting and could cause you to lose your flow at a crucial moment, or to break eye contact.
- Reduce the chance of disruption
We’ve discussed digital distractions, but you should extend this thinking to the rest of your household if you are doing the interview from home. If you have small children who could burst in at a crucial moment, it would be a good idea to ask someone to take them out to the park for an hour. Or if you have flatmates or live with a partner, make sure they know what time your interview is, so they don’t make loud noises or barge in to offer you a cup of tea.
- Be on time
Many of these Zoom job interview tips are lifted straight from in-person interviews, such as being on time. It sounds simple – and your commute is nil, as is the change of being delayed on public transport – but this makes it all the more important for your timekeeping to be precise as you have no excuse. Ensure sure you are prepared and have run all your checks, such as casting an eye over your background and adjusting the lighting, well in advance. Log on exactly at the right time – to the minute. Don’t keep them waiting.
- Maintain eye contact, and use your body
Speaking to someone through a screen can feel awkward, but treat it as though you are in the same room. As well as listening to your credentials, the employer will try to use this call to get a good sense of what your personality is. Maintain eye contact at all times and try to look open and friendly. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted by other things on your screen, as this can make it seem as if you aren’t interested. Although your whole body is not on display that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it. Gesture with your hands to make your points, show respect by sitting up straight and feel free to nod along when the interviewer makes a point you agree with. This will show you are engaged and confident.
- Don’t freeze if your technology does
It is bound to happen at some point. Video conferencing has opened up many opportunities for us, but it also opens us up to tech fails aplenty. Your connection might drop out. The interviewer’s sound might cut out, meaning you miss a question. You might freeze in the middle of delivering a perfect sales pitch. Whatever the hiccup, remain calm. Such things are beyond your control and the interviewer will know this. One of our tips for a successful interview is to think of any technical snafu as an opportunity to show how you act under pressure. If you didn’t hear something, as them to repeat it. If you froze mid sentence, take a breath and start over. And try to lessen the chance of connection problems putting you off your stride by choosing a spot in your house that you know has the best internet coverage.
- Practice makes perfect
The last of our tips for a successful interview on Zoom is to put in some practice, especially if you are unfamiliar with the technology. Spend some time setting the stage for your interview by playing around with different spots in the house to see which offers the best connection and most appropriate background. Try out different lighting styles to achieve something that is light and bright but not too harsh. Ask a friend to Zoom with you beforehand so you can practice out the different functions, and ask them what they think of your background, lighting, sound, posture. You can always record this session so you can play it back and think of what you would like to improve ahead of the real thing.