These pandemic times have completely transformed the way we go about our daily life. Most of us are stuck at home, working remotely and staying connected to family and friends over Zoom or other video conferencing services. But even though connecting with people over Zoom may be a familiar activity for you by now, it’s still important to keep in mind that a job interview conducted on a video call is not like a casual chat with your best friend or an extended family member. This is especially true if you want to make the most of your job search during the pandemic and want to come across as professional, confident and enthusiastic about the role you’re interviewing for.
Test out the interview platform in advance
Before the interview, you should practice on the Zoom platform with a friend, family member or colleague.
It’s also important to test out your computer and internet connection before you go live. Make sure that everything is working at its best so you have no technical issues during your interview.
Use the best internet you can access
- Use your own internet connection. Zoom provides a toll-free number to call, but you can also use any other phone number of your choosing. Using a cellular or public wifi connection will result in dropped calls and poor quality video. It’s better to use a wired connection if you have one available, but if not then we suggest using the Zoom app on your computer or tablet (which is installed as soon as you log into Zoom).
- Make sure that the connection is reliable and fast enough so that you’re able to move around freely without worrying about freezing video or audio drops during the interview.
Have a plan B if your internet is shaky
If you’re using a cell phone or a laptop, it’s easy to envision being in an area with spotty internet. While this is less likely to happen if you have access to high-speed wifi at home, it can still happen on the go. In addition to making sure that your internet is stable before going live, it’s important to have a backup plan for what will happen if the internet goes down or slows down during the interview.
- Have printed copies of any papers or articles that you will use as resources in case something happens where there is no signal on your phone/laptop.
- Make sure you know where all of your files are located so that if something does go wrong with technology, there aren’t too many steps required before getting back up and running again.
Find the quietest place you can
- Find a quiet place. You can’t expect your interview to go well if you’re talking at the same time as someone else, or if there’s too much noise around you. This can be hard in open workplaces, but try to find somewhere that’s quiet and free of distractions.
- Avoid talking to others during your interview. Similarly, don’t engage with anyone else during the conversation—it will make it harder for both parties to focus on each other and their points of view (and distract other members of staff).
Consider using a virtual background
The virtual background was a great tool to use in my Zoom interview. It helped me focus on the questions and avoid being distracted by the surroundings or other people in the room. I noticed that many candidates used the same virtual backgrounds, so I chose one that had colors from my favorite TV show: Game of Thrones!
I found that having different variables available for your virtual background can help you prepare for any situation. For example, if you have an interview on Monday and need to look busy at work, choose a background with computer code or something similar (just make sure it isn’t too distracting). If you’re interviewing after work on Thursday night, maybe use a photo of your favorite city skyline or sunset—these can be calming and help put you in an optimal state of mind.
Research your interviewers
The next step is to research your interviewers. Look at their social media profiles, LinkedIn profiles, company website and blog, Twitter feed and Facebook page. This will help you get an idea of who they are professionally and what interests them personally. If possible, look up their Instagram accounts as well! You can also ask a friend or family member to recommend any other online articles about these people that might be helpful for research purposes (but don’t ask too many people—you don’t want to seem like you’re relying too heavily on the opinions of others).
Choose your outfit based on company dress code
To set yourself up for success, it’s crucial to dress professionally. Research the company’s dress code before going in and make sure you’re following their guidelines. It goes without saying that you should also be wearing something that makes you feel confident and professional—something that will show your potential employer that you are ready to work.
While there is no right or wrong outfit for a Zoom interview, certain types of clothing tend to work better than others:
- Darker colors are more formal than light ones;
- Solid colors are more formal than patterns; and
- Formal suits are typically best if your resume suggests that this is what you wear to job interviews (or at least would consider doing so).
Use appropriate body language
There are several things you can do to make sure your body language is effective.
- Sit straight and maintain good posture.
- Make eye contact with the interviewer and smile—but don’t overdo it! (A friendly, warm smile is better than a fake, forced one.)
- Use an open body posture to show confidence and interest in what the interviewer has to say. Make sure not to cross your arms or legs; keep them uncrossed and relaxed, with both feet flat on the floor. You can lean forward slightly when making eye contact if you feel comfortable doing so—and be aware that some people may find this more comfortable than sitting back in their chair.
- Use a confident facial expression, whether by smiling genuinely or frowning slightly (if appropriate). This will help you appear engaged while also conveying confidence through your body language alone! The same goes for tone of voice: try not to sound too nervous because this might lead others down that path as well.
Turn off notifications
- Turn off notifications on your phone, tablet and laptop.
- It’s very important that you don’t get distracted by notifications during the interview. Zoom will send a notification to your device if there’s an incoming call or chat request. This can be helpful in case of emergencies but otherwise it’s best to turn off all the notifications until after the interview is over so that you don’t get distracted while answering questions.
Look into the camera while speaking
Zoom’s chat window is a bit small, so try to look into the camera while speaking. Don’t look away from the camera or at it like you’re looking at a person. You can also look directly into the lens, but that may make some people feel uncomfortable.
If your face looks off-center in Zoom’s recorder, this could be because of lighting or perhaps an obstruction in front of your computer screen. Try adjusting your lighting and/or repositioning yourself so that you have more light on one side than another (just don’t have it aimed directly at any one spot).
During the virtual interview, be sure to present yourself as a qualified candidate who is interested in the job. Dress professionally, speak confidently, and pay attention to body language. Provide specific examples of your skills and qualifications throughout the conversation. If you’ve done your homework and are prepared for everything from technical issues to behavioral questions, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to impress your interviewer with all that you have to offer.