The COVID-19 pandemic presented a lot of challenges that the world needed to adapt to. One of the biggest changes was the increasing decision from companies to switch out physical interviews for virtual ones. Even in March of 2020, during the early stages of social distancing, there was a reported 524% spike in companies asking prospective candidates to interview online rather than in person. And it seems the practice is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. That means that being able to conduct a successful Zoom interview is a major key to securing the job you desire.
How can you make sure you’re covering all your bases and are prepared to ace your Zoom interview? We’ve put together a step-by-step guide to help you have an outstanding performance over video interviews.
You can also jump to:
- The Preparations Before Your Zoom Interview
- Tips For During the Interview
- What to Do After the Interview
The Preparations Before Your Zoom Interview
In-person interviews take little preparation; all you need to do is wear professional attire, make sure you have your portfolios, and show up. But online interviews take a bit more attention to detail. Here are the most important things to keep in mind:
Interviewing online means you’re in control of your interview space – you don’t have the ease of showing up to a professional office. Instead, you’ll have to curate your own environment. This can be a big factor in the impression you make on the interviewer, so make sure you connect to the interview from a tidy, quiet space that’s as professional-looking as possible.
A room where you’re able to shut the door and limit outside distractions is ideal. Lighting is also important to keep in mind; brightly lit rooms are the best to ensure your interviewer can properly see you and your facial expressions.
A messy background can be a major virtual interview faux pas. When setting up your space, pay special attention to everything that will be in the frame during your interview. Keep the background as decluttered and sparse as possible in order to maintain a professional appearance. The easiest solution is to find a blank wall with natural lighting, that way you can make sure the interviewer will not be distracted by the background.
If you really want to impress your interviewer or interview for a creative position, use Animation Desk to design your very own interview background! This can be especially helpful if you don’t have a fitting background anywhere in your home.
Just because you’re interviewing from home, that doesn’t mean you should log into your zoom interview in a stained sweatshirt. Professional attire is just as important in a virtual setting. In fact, you should dress just as you normally would for an in-person interview – and yes, that includes pants, even if the interviewer will never see them. This will put you in the right frame of mind and have you feeling ready to take on your interview.
Just as any other interview, keep the culture of the company for which you’re interviewing in mind when you’re picking out your outfit. Choose attire that you not only feel comfortable in and speaks to your personal style, but also suits your desired role.
Technology is a beautiful thing, but it can also cause a number of issues that wouldn’t be a concern during an in-person interview. To avoid running into any technical issues during your interview and ensure you make the best impression possible, double-checking that all of your equipment is working properly beforehand is essential.
Test your microphone and headphones (which are important for avoiding echo!), make sure your laptop is running smoothly, and take care of any software updates so that everything is as up-to-date as possible. That way, once you click that meeting link, it’s all smooth sailing.
To that end, a strong internet connection is an absolute must for Zoom meetings. The last thing you want is your Wifi cutting out in the middle of your sentence while you’re selling your strengths to a dream employer.
If your internet connection at home is known to be a bit finicky, you have a few options. Heading over to your local library is one great idea; most have private rooms from which you won’t be disturbed, in addition to stable internet connections. Other locations include a quiet coffee shop or the home of a loved one.
To make sure you’re fully prepared, comfortable, and ready to speak, have all of your essential interview materials reviewed and on-hand during your interview. This includes your resume, references, portfolio, and any notes you may have to refer to. Just as with any interview, you’ll want to make sure you’re well-versed in all of your accomplishments, past roles, and strengths.
If needed, you may even place a sticky note within your view with quick bullet points that will serve as reminders to guide you while speaking.
Tips For During the Zoom Interview
Discussing your qualifications and showcasing your work over video with an interviewer can be very different from in-person interviews. Here are some tips:
Mute When You Are Not Talking
Have you ever been in a Zoom meeting with someone who had too much going on in their home? A barking dog, a loud child, an outside conversation – it can be very distracting. But all they had to do was hit mute.
To avoid any unwanted noise from your environment coming through when you’re not speaking, utilize the mute button! When you mute yourself, anyone else in the call won’t be able to hear anything from your microphone. This is especially helpful if you’re interviewing from a less-than-quiet environment or are dealing with unexpected interruptions and background noises.
Simply keep yourself muted at any point at which you aren’t speaking, and unmute yourself to answer questions.
Turn Off All Notifications
Whether it’s a message in Slack, a text coming through, or even a like on Instagram, notifications can be very distracting during an interview – not only for you but for your interviewer, too. This is especially an issue if the notifications come with a sound, or if they pop up while you’re sharing your screen.
To avoid these distractions, just make sure to turn off all of your notifications before an online interview. You should not only disable them from your desktop but make sure your phone is muted as well. That way you don’t have to worry about any pings cutting through while you’re speaking.
Making eye contact is an important part of communication, especially in an interview; it shows that you’re actively listening and it also exudes confidence, respect, and honesty. However, making eye contact in a Zoom meeting can get a little tricky.
To simulate eye contact in a Zoom interview, you’ll need to look at your camera rather than in the eyes of your interviewer. Of course, you’ll want to look at the interviewer as well. To remedy this situation, move the Zoom window as close to your camera lens as possible. You can look between the two as needed, but try to look directly into the camera when you’re speaking.
Just like eye contact, body language is an essential factor in making a great first impression during a job interview. You want to appear open, personable, confident, and relaxed. While this can be difficult when the interviewer can only see half of your body, there are still things you can do.
First of all, sit back a bit from your computer so that the interviewer can see as much of your body and gestures as possible. You should also avoid slumping, sit up as straight as possible, and stay at eye level with the camera. Smile and nod when appropriate to show active listening and interest, and try to mirror the body language of your interviewer (without being too obvious about it). Avoid touching your face, as well – this gives off the impression of dishonesty.
Have you ever been in a video meeting in which a terrible echo was present? This can be extremely irritating and even ruin a meeting – especially an interview. It’s an issue that occurs due to lags in connection, but it can easily be avoided with one handy tool: headphones.
Not only will earphones allow you to avoid the risk of an annoying echo, they’ll also generally improve communication and eliminate bad audio thanks to better sound quality and a lack of disruption.
Clear Your Desktop
One great Zoom feature is screen sharing, which allows you to show everyone in the meeting whatever content is pulled up on your desktop. Even if you don’t go into the meeting expecting to use this feature, you should be prepared to do so. You never know when you’ll be asked to display your work this way.
To cover all your bases, make sure you close out of any irrelevant websites, clear your search history to avoid any embarrassing slip-ups, and ensure your desktop is presentable enough to share your screen. It’s best to have a fresh, blank screen ready. That way, if you do have something to share, you can do so confidently and professionally.
Showcase your work
When it comes time to show your interviewer your portfolio, impress them by showcasing your work with the screen sharing feature. You can create a digital portfolio to present during your Zoom interview.
If you really want to make a great impression and show off your digital skills, consider using NoteLedge for iPad, which comes with interactive slideshow tools that are the perfect way to show your outstanding work in Zoom. You’ll even be able to use a laser pointer and annotation pen during a screen recording to present your work through a pre-recorded video.
The questions you ask your interviewer at the end of the interview process are just as important as the answers you give to their questions. Be prepared for the moment they offer you the floor to ask anything you’d like to know.
You may want to ask company-specific questions such as the dress code or business hours; questions that are specific to the role you’re interviewing for, like typical responsibilities or necessary skills; or questions about the training process you would undergo if given the job. Ask questions that you really want the answer to, and know that what matters is that you show an interest and drive for the position.
What Should You Do After the Zoom Interview
Making your impression doesn’t stop when you close out of the Zoom interview. You should always be striving to maintain and enhance your impression during the hiring process. Here are some tips for after your interview:
Send an Email to Thank the Interviewer
A follow-up email is always a good idea. It keeps you fresh in the mind of your potential employer and shows once again that you’re interested in the job – not to mention polite and professional. Showing that you care is important!
You should send a thank you email to your interviewer within 24 hours after the Zoom interview. In fact, it’s never too soon to send one. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated; just a simple email expressing that you enjoyed speaking with them, are excited about the opportunity to fill the position and join the company, and look forward to hearing more is perfect.
Online interviews may be on their way to becoming the new normal in the hiring process. As you navigate the job market, you’ll likely find yourself logging into more and more Zoom meetings. For this reason, it’s always important to review your performance after a virtual interview.
Think about what went well, what you could’ve improved on, and what you may do differently next time you have a Zoom meeting or interview to attend. This is a great way to ensure that you’re always improving and making the best possible impression on potential employers. You may even choose to set up a practice meeting for yourself to get comfortable with the format.
Online Job Interview is a Must-Acquired Skill
While online job interviews were once a means to an end as businesses adapted to pandemic life, the practice has quickly been adopted by more and more international companies. For this reason, it’s highly beneficial to master the skill of acing online interviews. It seems the Zoom interview is likely here to stay, and the more you practice and hone your skills, the more likely you are to find career success.
By following this step-by-step guide, you’ll be able to have an outstanding performance in your next online job interview and each one to follow!