10 Tips to Help you Ace your next Zoom interview!
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
These Zoom interview tips can help you ace your interview and show the employers that you're the candidate they're looking for:
- Turn your camera ON
- Good Lighting
- Plain White / Cream Wall Background
- Proper Positioning
- Smile / Energy
- Dress for Success
- Log in early
- Have a good Internet connection
- Maintain Eye contact
- Minimize background noise or distraction
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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!