It's becoming increasingly important to understand how to interview well over video conferencing software. Remote jobs are becoming more common and Zoom interviews tend to be more convenient for initial screening interviews even for on-site roles.
Understand that video interviews are different to traditional in-person interviews. For example, it's harder to maintain eye contact and understanding the interviewer's body language can be harder through your computer screen. That's why it's a good idea to do a few practice interviews before any upcoming Zoom interviews.
In this article, you'll learn how to look your best and prepare for any virtual interviews that may occur during the interview process.
What is a Zoom interview?
Zoom is one of the most popular video conferencing software solutions, so there is a good chance that hiring managers and interviewers will use it in your next remote interview. It has various tools such as screen sharing, text chat, custom backgrounds, video recording, and a mute button. Once you know how to use these tools, you can use them to your advantage during your next video job interview.
29 tips for succeeding during Zoom interviews
These Zoom interview tips can help you ace remote interviews and land your next role.
1. Use the mute button
You can mute your audio in Zoom. This is a great feature to use while your interviewer is talking as it ensures nothing distracts them from your end. There's nothing worse than loud noises, dogs barking, or lawn mower to distract the interviewer. Mute yourself to help your interviewer stay focused by reducing interruptions.
2. Prioritize the camera when speaking not the screen
Just as you would maintain eye contact during an in-person interview, you should do the same in a virtual job interview. It shows to the interviewer that you're confident and respect their time. While video makes this a bit more difficult, just remember to look into the computer camera rather than at their video on the screen.
3. Use a professional background
When you're setting up for an online interview, choose somewhere that is tidy and free of clutter. Try to find somewhere that doesn't have a distracting background unless you want the interviewer to ask about what is behind you! A blank wall or a few tasteful items shows the interviewer that you're organized and have attention to detail.
In contrast, a bedroom with an unmade bed, a home office full of clutter, or a kitchen bench covered in washing up indicate things about you to the interview, none of which are particularly good. Not only is it unprofessional but it distracts the interviewer who might be too busy analyzing your background to listening to what you have to say.
4. Have good lighting
Your interviewer needs to be able to see your body language and facial expressions during the Zoom meeting. Either choose a room with good natural light or invest in a ring or key light. The key thing to remember is you want the light in front of you, lighting coming from behind you will make it harder for the interviewer to see your face.
5. Pick a quiet place
It's easier to talk when it's quiet so try to choose a place that isn't noisy. This ensures that your interviewer can direct their full attention to what you have to say, not what is happening around you. Limit noises by closing doors and windows and turning off music, TVs, and other distractions.
6. Silence your phone
A ding or buzz from your phone can ruin your flow and distract you and your interviewer from what you're talking about. It's a good idea to put your phone away or in another room before your interview so you can clear your mind and focus on the interview.
7. Maintain focus
While it's easy to scroll the web while your interviewer is speaking, do your best to stay focused. It's easy to tell when someone is distracted even over video software. Show them that you are paying attention by affirming what they say, nodding as they speak, and asking questions based on what they spoke about.
8. Turn off notifications on your computer
Along with silencing your phone, it's a good idea to turn off notifications on your computer. Close any social media and messaging apps that could distract you. Better yet, open up Zoom and set the meeting to full screen so that the interviewer is all you can see.
9. Use a laptop or computer
While the Zoom app on iOS and Android is robust, it's generally better to use a laptop or computer. While your phone and tablet probably have a better camera and audio quality, the challenge is keeping them still and getting a good angle. If you are going to use a tablet or phone, do your best to put it on something stable and at eye level to avoid the up-the-nose camera angle.
10. Check the battery on your laptop
There's nothing more distracting to an interviewer than a job seeker leaving the interview unexpectedly. This is why it's so important to make sure your laptop has charge. Ideally, you would keep it plugged in as Zoom can drain your battery fast. If you can't, make sure it's fully charged before our interview.
11. Keep your computer up-to-date
Not only does updating your computer improve its security, it also ensures that it won't randomly turn off during your next job interview. The same can be said for Zoom itself. Make sure that you're running the latest version of Zoom prior to the interview.
12. Check your internet connection
Choppy video and poor audio quality make it difficult to build a real connection with the interviewer so make sure you have a solid internet connection. Test out your connection prior to your interview.
13. Let your household know you're interviewing
If you live with roommates or a family member, let them know when and where you plan to do your interview. It's best to remind them to give you space and keep the noise to a minimum right before the interview starts. If you can, try to do the interview from a separate room.
14. Wear appropriate attire
Dress as you would dress for an in-person interview. This doesn't necessarily mean a suit though. Remember, you want to build a connection with the interviewer and make them feel like you're a good cultural fit. For example, if you are interviewing at a tech company, a t-shirt is probably a better choice than a blazer. With that said, it's generally fine to dress a notch or two above what the company's typical attire is as it shows you're taking the interview seriously.
Also, be sure to wear solid colors as stripes and pattrens often don't come up well on video.
15. Keep your screen clear
While you probably won't be asked to share your screen, it's a good idea to close everything else on your computer before the interview. This will free up your CPU, ensure that Zoom runs smoothly, and reduce the risk of video or audio suddenly playing in the background.
16. Use appropriate body language and posture
While it may be difficult to convey open and positive body language over Zoom, you should still try to do your best to sit up straight and face the camera. Don't be afraid to use your hands while speaking if it feels natural to you. And remember to use nonverbal cues such as nodding and smiling to show that you're listening.
Avoid slouching on the couch or sitting in a big armchair as it can make you look less polished. You want the focus to be on you, not what you're sitting in.
17. Ask your interviewer questions
Remember to ask the interviewer questions too! Don't forget that you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. If you're looking for inspiration, see our guide on the best questions to ask in an interview. Job seekers who ask questions during the interview process show the interviewer that they're truly interested in the role.
18. Banish pets from the room
While dogs and cats are cute and can even spark conversation during the interview, they can also be distracting. Just as you wouldn't bring your pet to an on-site interview, don't bring them to your online one.
19. Wear earphones or headphones to improve sound quality
Wearing earphones or headphones during the interview will ensure that there is minimal audio feedback to your interviewer which can be incredibly distracting. They also make it easier to hear your interviewer and to focus on them without the distractions of outside noises.
Newer earphones and headphones generally have built-in microphones which are better quality than the ones that are built into your computer, which makes it easier for interviewers to hear what you have to say too.
20. Check the time zone
If you are looking for a remote job, your would-be employer might forget about the time difference between where they are and where you are. Double-check the time zone of the meeting to ensure that you aren't late or early.
21. Get in the mood to talk
Interviewers can tell when you're tired and unexcited about an interview, which might just be because you've been sitting at home for too long. Energy and enthusiasm are even more important when communicating virtually so try to bring as much as you can (in-line with your personality of course).
22. Invest in a good webcam
If your laptop or desktop is relatively new, you might not need to do this. But if your video is granulated, it's often worth investing in an external webcam. The quality of your picture makes a big difference to the interviewer, even if they aren't aware of it. Being able to see you clearly makes it easier for them to build a connect with you.
23. Get the most out of your framing
Framing refers to how you choose to compose your shot. A good rule of thumb is to have your eyes at the two-thirds level of the screen. The interviewer wants to see your face not the wall above your head.
If that sounds too complicated, just make sure your camera is positioned so that you're not in the bottom of the shot or that some of your head is cut off. and do your best to position the camera at roughly eye level as this will make it easier to maintain eye contact too.
24. Avoid virtual backgrounds
While Zoom's virtual background feature can be a load of fun, an interview probably isn't the right place to use one. Even if you choose a good one, virtual backgrounds tend to look fake which can distract the interviewer. Remember, your goal is to make it as easy as possible to connect with the interviewer.
With all that said, if a virtual background helps you have one less thing to worry about, it isn't the end of the world to use one.
25. Check for glare
Before your interview, check to see if anything in your shot is reflecting or giving off glare that could be distracting to you or your interviewer. This can include metal water bottles, watches, jewelery, or glasses.
26. Speak slowly and clearly
Before your interview, practice speaking slowly and clearly. Even if you have a great Internet connection, Zoom can cut out occasionally and it'll be much easier to understand you if you're not rushing through your answers. It'll also make you appear for relaxed and confident to the interviewer.
27. Don't be afraid to ask for clarification
It's okay to ask for clarification or ask the interviewer to repeat the question if you didn't hear it or if they cut out due to a bad connection. It's better to make sure you know what they are asking than to answer the wrong questions.
28. Prepare for common questions
Just because it's over video doesn't mean it's not an interview! Think through any potential concerns the interviewer may have about your background or questions that will probably ask you, like why do you want to work at their company? By anticipating the questions you're likely to get asked and practicing your answers, you'll be more relaxed about the interview.
29. Practice using Zoom
The best way to learn to use Zoom is to use Zoom so take some time to test out the software with friends or family before the interview. Even better, do a few mock interviews and get someone to ask you some behavioral interview questions to get a sense of what it will actually feel like. If you're really looking to excel, learn how to use the STAR method.
7 Zoom interview mistakes to avoid
If you want to make the best impression there are some things you should avoid when interviewing virtually. It's easy to get flustered by technology or a poor internet connection which can often be the difference between an okay interview and getting a job offer.
To increase your chances, here's what you should avoid before and during Zoom interviews.
1. Being late to the interview
You wouldn't turn up late to an in-person interview so don't be late to a Zoom interview. Try to get on the call a few minutes early to give yourself time to solve any last-minute technical challenges that could appear. Interviewing is stressful enough without any unforeseen problems.
2. Not using Zoom beforehand
There's no reason you shouldn't be comfortable with using Zoom ahead of time. It's free to download and you can use it with friends or family ahead of time. Knowing how to use Zoom will make you feel more at ease during the interview and more resilient if any issues do come up.
3. Failing to gather everything you need
Get everything you need to be successful before our interview. In general, we recommend that you have a water bottle, your resume and any references or your portfolio available so that you can easily speak to it when asked.
While you should avoid eating during the interview, a sip of water after speaking or while the interview speaks is a good way to avoid a dry mouth caused by nerves.
4. Choosing the wrong outfit
Just because you're interviewing from home doesn't mean you shouldn't look presentable. Remember the right outfit isn't necessarily a suit and tie, it's about matching the attire that people wear at the company you're interviewing at. If you're interviewing at a bank, a suit may be the correct choice. Whereas interviewing at a tech company might be more suited toward a t-shirt and jeans.
Keep in mind, it's generally fine to dress up a bit more the interview, so it's better to overdress than underdress. One unique thing to consider for video interviews are that camera aren't great at stripes, bright colors, or differentiating between you and the background, so try to keep colors minimal and different to what's behind you.
5. Interviewing in a messing space
While you can set up a custom background in Zoom to hide a messy space, it's better to just tidy up the space around you. Even if the interviewer can't see the mess because of a virtual background, you can. A clean space reduces distracts and sets you up for success.
6. Not paying attention to the interviewer
The worst Zoom interview mistake you can make is scrolling the web or just showing that you are uninterested in what the interviewer is saying. Unfortunately, because you are sitting in front of a computer this is easier than you might think.
Little gestures can make a big impact, try nodding or smiling at the interviewer to show that you're still paying attention when they're speaking. Inversely, don't check your phone or scroll the web. Just put Zoom into full screen to avoid these problems.
7. Not carrying your side of the conversation
While job interviews can feel like interrogations they don't have to. In fact, interviewers want candidates to ask questions too. It shows that you're interested in the company and have done your research.
You and the interviewer are trying to do the same thing: to assess whether the other person is a good fit. Do your part by asking questions!
Do your best to not interrupt the interviewer when they're speaking though. This is harder on video as there can be a delay, but developing this remote work skill pays dividends even after you are hired as many roles require you to work with remote team members now.
Find your next remote role on Himalayas
Now that you know how to interview well on Zoom, why not consider applying for a remote job on Himalayas? Remote work has a range of benefits from improved work-life balance to better pay to working from where you want to.
Not sure how to find a remote job? With over 1,500 active remote opportunities across software engineering, sales, product, marketing, design, finance, and more. There's a good chance we've got a remote work is fit for you.
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