10 Tips to Help you Ace your next Zoom interview!

zoom interview tips

Once upon a time, hiring managers believed that there was no substitute for an in-person interview.  The last year has taught everyone that we can all be adaptable to new practices, and hiring is no exception.  Zoom interviews in 2021 are now the norm and receiving “zoom details” to login to your zoom interview, is as commonplace as receiving the date and time for an interview.  So, are zoom interviews here to stay?  From our viewpoint, we emphatically say yes!  Not only do they save money, time and resources, but companies have been able to introduce prospective new hires to other key members of the firm/company across the country and world to get more opinions as to whether a candidate is a good fit.   So, since zoom interviews are here to stay, job seekers need to not only get used to them; but learn how to maximize them so that landing a role is not hindered by a poor initial zoom interview.

Some of these tips and tricks may seem obvious but trust us when we say that they bear mentioning.  At Round Hill Search we interview hundreds of candidates each year during our thorough two-step interview process, and each week, candidates (from support level, to highly experienced attorneys and partners), make some of the same mistakes.   So, here are our top 10 tips for you as you embark upon the world of zoom interviewing, or as you continue to interview via zoom.

ZOOM INTERVIEW TIPS

TURN YOUR CAMERA ON:

zoom interview tips - turn your camera on

It might sound silly to tell you to, ‘Turn Your Camera On’ before the interview starts, but we have interviewed plenty of candidates that have not turned on their camera before the interview starts.  Ensure that your camera is on before the interview starts.  It’s tiresome for an interviewer to have to ask you to “Turn your camera on please”.  The whole point of the zoom interview is to see and meet you virtually, not to be presented with a black screen, a silly emoji, or your latest headshot. 

We’ve heard it all from, “I’m not looking my best today”, to “I’d rather not put my camera on”, to “Sorry, my camera isn’t working today”.   If a company sets up a zoom interview with you, they want to see you, and if they want to see and meet you, 1. ensure that you have a computer with a working camera and 2. Turn it on before the interview begins.  An interviewer doesn’t want to be met with excuses as to why they aren’t able to see you for the scheduled interview.  This is the way of the world now, whether you are comfortable with it or not, we are all going to have to get used to being on camera.   One of the silver linings for zoom interviewing is that it can be easier than an in-person interview and takes so much less time.  So, get used to it, get prepared and embrace this new technology.

LIGHTING:

zoom interview tips - lighting

Ensure that you have good lighting for your interview.  Again, this is another tip that should go without saying, but poor lighting is one of the biggest interview issues that hiring managers are presented with.  Work with a family member or friend to test your lighting to ensure that they can see you in the days leading up to the interview.  Lighting should be excellent, and an interviewer should be able to see you clearly and not have to squint to get a glimpse of you because of poor lighting.  Sitting in front of a window or purchasing an inexpensive light ring from Amazon can help you get your lighting perfect.   

BACKGROUND:

zoom interview tips - background

Less is more when it comes to your background.  We would suggest going with a plain background, a white/cream wall is perfectly fine when it comes to interviewing.  We have seen everything from messy bookshelves and cluttered rooms to inappropriate belongings in the background.  For interview purposes, ensure that there aren’t any distractions.  You are the main attraction here! A plant or nice picture is fine in the background, but there shouldn’t be anything that distracts the interviewer from the interview at hand.  We recently had a candidate that had a single mask hanging up in the background, it was distracting and just rather odd looking just hanging on a hook in the background against a white wall.  Again, ask a friend or family member to sign off on your background if you’re unsure.

POSITIONING:

zoom interview tips - positioning

Many of us are using zoom on our phones and desktops.  For interview purposes, the best option is to use your desktop vs. your phone.  Positioning is important in order for the prospective employer to be able to see you properly.  When you’re using your phone, you tend to be looking down, rather than directly in the screen.  You need to ensure that your head and shoulders are visible in the frame, and that you are looking straight ahead into the camera.  Ideally, you should use your desktop, and if necessary, place it on a pile of books to ensure that you are in the middle of the frame and looking straight at the camera.   

SMILE / ENERGY:

zoom interview tips - smmile/energy

One of the most difficult things to do with this new zoom technology is to convey energy through the screen, and yet it’s one of the most important things that you need to do.   It’s important to smile during the interview, sit upright and take an active posture during the interview.   An active posture means that you are sitting to attention, you are fully engaged physically and not slouched in your chair or sitting on a sofa in a relaxed position.  Remember, this is still an interview.  Prospective employers don’t want to see you sitting on the couch and not engaged in the interview.  When you’re sitting up-right in a chair; whether it be a dining room chair or stool, you are more likely to be in a position where you are more engaged and energetic.  Smiling helps you to convey energy throughout the interview too.  Use a mirror if you need to, to ensure that you are smiling!

Lastly, avoid swivel chairs, they can be extremely distracting and annoying to a hiring manager even though they may be comforting as you go through an interview.   

DRESS FOR SUCCESS:

zoom interview tips - dress for success

Many of us have become used to wearing more lounge wear since we have been working from home.  We have seen it all from prospective candidates wearing pajamas to spaghetti strap tops, to inappropriate slogans on t-shirts to distracting patterns on clothing.  Again, depending on the company that you are interviewing for, dressing appropriately for an interview is still very important.   We recommend that you dress fully for the interview as if you were going in person.  You may be tempted to just put on that shirt and tie or blouse, and keep the pajama bottoms because they aren’t in the frame, but if you dress fully for the interview you’ll feel better for it and will convey better energy throughout the interview vs. being ‘half dressed’.  Block colors are often better than patterns, remember we want the prospective employer to be focusing all their energy on you!

Read more: How to dress for a job interview

LOG IN EARLY:

zoom interview tips - log in early

Make sure that you log on a few minutes before the interview is set to start.  You will want to ensure that you’re not having any technical issues and that you’re ready to go at the allotted time.  Wasting time at the beginning of the interview with technical issues such as audio or camera positioning etc. is a distraction and can waste precious minutes that you could be using to introduce yourself and your experience.  Additionally, ensure that you’re not doing anything awkward in the moments before the interview starts.  We have seen people cleaning their teeth, putting on make-up, doing strange things with their noses, and all sorts of strange things in the moments before the interview begins.  Sometimes a hiring manager will get on early to just see the prospective employee before getting started. 

INTERNET CONNECTION:

zoom interview tips - good internet connection

Make sure that you are in a place with a good internet connection.  Again, you want to spend your time during the interview conveying all your wonderful experience and why you would be a good fit for the organization, not dealing with internet connection issues.  Call a friend and have a ‘tech run’ before the interview to ensure that your connection is strong, as well as all the above pointers.

EYE CONTACT & BACKGROUND NOISE / DISTRACTIONS:

zoom interview tips - eye contact and background noise / distractions

Know where your camera is on your computer and use it! Make sure that you are looking into your camera when the interview starts.  Eye contact gets a little tricky when it comes to using zoom, but it’s important to get this right so that you’re not looking away from the interviewer or looking not looking directly at them.  Again, practice, practice, practice with a friend or colleague to ensure that you get this right.

Employers are more forgiving when it comes to background noise and distractions during interviews since everyone is working from home, and not everyone has the luxury of a large space in which to have complete silence away from other family members.  As much as possible, control your environment for the duration of the interview.  Ask family members to avoid walking behind you during the interview.  If you have young children, put them in front of the television or on device for the duration of the interview and ask them not to disturb you while you’re on your computer. I’m sure your family will want to support you in your endeavor to land a new position so ask them to keep background noise at a minimum.  

zoom interview tips for you

Our philosophy is that interviews are conversations, it’s an opportunity for you to see if this is a firm/company that you want to work for as well.  With that being said, enjoy the interview process.  Ask questions, convey enthusiasm and if you think that the role is the right fit for you, ensure that you tell the hiring manager why your background and experience would be a great match for them.  Zoom interviews are definitely here to stay, so ensure that you take our tips into consideration as you look for the next perfect role!  

Read Also: Common mistakes job applicants make

job applicant with employers

Despite spending the time to help candidates prepare for interviews, I always reach out to clients for feedback on what went well and what didn’t go so well.  After all, feedback is the food of champions. I often hear the same thing over and over again, despite warnings to candidates about avoiding these interview mishaps that keep them out of the running.

Bringing up salary and benefits during the interview

Typically when you are going through a recruiter, they will negotiate salary and benefits on your behalf so there is no need to bring this up. If you are interviewing with a company directly, without a third party, then bringing up salary and benefits, especially during the first half of the interview is sure to put a bad taste in the employer’s mouth. The first interview is just that, a chance for the parties to get to know each other and to see if it’s a good fit from a hard and soft skills perspective. Most of the interview time should be taken up with just that, discussing your skill set, understanding more about the company, sharing with them the value that you are going to be able to bring to the company. Now, don’t get me wrong, money is important, but if it’s a fit from both perspectives, that will be discussed and can be negotiated at a later date.

Not having any questions

A job interview isn’t just a one way street. As much as the hiring manager may want to know more about you, it’s also your opportunity to get to know more about the company. Asking questions at the end of the interview can reveal a number of things both about yourself and the company. You can use this time to see if the company’s culture is right for you, what the future at that company looks like, and even try to uncover some red flags before you jump in. By having questions prepared, the company will be able to see that you are truly interested in the job and have done your research about their organization. It’s important to dig deeper when researching the company. Don’t just ask simple questions that could be answered through a quick search online, but ask questions that will show you have exhausted all possible online resources before coming in.

Not prepared with information and current events that are going on with the company

In order to nail the interview, you must be able to sell yourself to the hiring manager. You may be nailing the interview on personal questions, but the interview will take a bad turn if you have nothing to say or discuss once the topic changes to the company. Not being prepared with information will give the hiring manager the impression that you aren’t really interested in being a part of the company. To ensure that you are positioning yourself as their best candidate, it’s important to know what the company is looking for in a qualified candidate. Pay attention to the company’s mission statement and values. Any qualified candidate should be confident to say that they would be a good fit with the company’s culture.

Talking too much

It’s easy to start rambling when you start feeling nervous or hear silence during a job interview. Interviewers are only human and their minds could start to wander when you start talking too much. When you start to ramble, you risk sounding unorganized and lacking substance. In order to prevent this, it’s vital that you prepare for the interview questions, doing your full research of the company. Running a mock interview with a close friend could help you figure out which questions make you stumble so you could prepare an answer beforehand. When you’re prepared for the questions, you will feel more confident during the interview, cutting down all your nervous rambling. Keep your answers simple but make sure you’re still communicating all your main points.

Erica Moore-Burton | Rudia Jung – Round Hill Search

zoom interview tips maintain eye contact

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erica Moore-Burton.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Erica. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was born and raised by my parents in London, England. My grandparents moved to the United States in the 70s from London, and by virtue of them being in New York, my family would travel frequently to the US. I grew up spending summers here, and there was something that I always loved about the American spirit. After finishing law school in London, I decided that I would move to the US to continue my legal career. After becoming a licensed attorney in the US, and working in several law firms, I ultimately decided that being an attorney was definitely not what I wanted to do.

I took 6 months off to “find myself” and my boyfriend at the time (husband now) recommended that I use my legal background and merge it with sales of some sort. I landed a role as an international staffing company and began my career in legal recruiting. I loved it immediately, and climbed the corporate ladder very quickly winning numerous awards for leadership and sales which was great. I have always loved helping people solve problems in their lives, and helping people find jobs and the career counseling piece was so rewarding and gratifying. Finding work that you love and enjoy is so important, and that is something that I tell the people that I work with to this day. I realized this early on in my career, and did the soul searching to find out what was right for me.

Over the last 15 years I have worked for various companies, and have lead operations and teams for national legal staffing and placement firms. A turning point came for me when I had my first child. I was working in downtown Los Angeles at a national staffing firm that was acquired by an international staffing firm and the expectations for me were just not conducive to my life as a new mother. It was at that point that I decided that I needed to establish my own firm and work more on my terms. I realized that it was going to be hard work, but I’ve never been afraid of hard work! Round Hill Search is now four years old, and really thriving and I feel really blessed.

Of course, before venturing out on my own it was nerve-racking, but ultimately it was one of the best decisions that I have made in my career. I have learned so many lessons along the way, and ultimately it has been a great experience. I have also recently started working with some partners on another venture (Round Hill Creative Group), which is feeding my creative side which I am really excited about. It incorporates my love for contemporary art (RHCG represents contemporary artists) with the business world. I love the idea of being multi-dimensional and not being put into boxes, so I’m really happy right now with my professional career and the direction that it is going in.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has definitely has not always been a smooth road, is anybody’s life a smooth road? If you are living and breathing, it’s not always going to be smooth, and I think that is the beauty of life. I think that when you realize that no one is exempt from life’s ups and downs (whether personally or in business), it makes things easier in your own life.

Some of my biggest business struggles, have been with people not doing what they say that they’re going to do, or not helping you to grow your business when they were in a position to do so. I have had several disappointments there, several broken promises, several expectations shot down. On the flip side, there have been a lot of people that have helped get me here, for which I am really grateful. I always look for the silver lining in any given situation, which is how you keep learning and growing.

I think that you have to be adaptable to change constantly happening around you, the more flexible that you can be and the more fluid you can be with changes, the more that you can move through the struggles that you are going to be presented with. When I am in the middle of a struggle, I always try to be an “Observer” and not get mired in whatever the issue is. Hard times pass, then there will be good times, and then you’ll be hit with another difficult situation. It’s all in how you handle it, and the perspective that you look at it from.

Round Hill Search – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Round Hill Search is a legal staffing and placement firm. Our clients are law firms (AmLaw 100 firms, mid and small law firms) and corporate legal departments. We help them find attorneys and paralegals on a contract and full-time basis. On the flip side, we help attorneys and paralegals find jobs that are suited to their experience and provide career counseling and support during their job search.

I am really proud of our track record, we have a 98% placement rate which is outstanding. It’s outstanding because it means that we’re doing our job really, really well. Essentially, it means that we have listened to our client’s needs, not only the skill set need but also the cultural and environmental need and have married that with the right legal professional for the role (by listening to what our candidate’s needs are). I think that is what really sets us apart from other companies in this space. We are a boutique firm, and take our role as consultants very seriously.

Our candidates aren’t just another number for us, they are people with real needs, desires, career goals and family situations. We take the “whole candidate” into consideration when it comes to finding the right role for them. We receive so many referrals on a week to week basis because of our approach and the fact that people trust us. Our clients know and love us for our outstanding customer service. They know that when they call us, they are going to receive qualified candidates that they can choose from.

They know that we are going, to be honest with them from that initial call. We love the concept of the “whole client” too, it’s not just about business, it’s about the whole relationship. I had a client call me yesterday for some advice about an internship for her niece, and another last week on how they should handle a particular personal situation at their office. I personally love building and maintaining relationships, which has served the business really well over the last four years.

Our founding principles are Service, Excellence and Integrity and those principles run through every aspect of our business, which keeps our clients coming back to us.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best and so beautifully: “To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

Contact Info:

Image Credit: Mark Ewing, Dejan Simic

Original article can be found on voyagela.com