So you’ve applied for a job and landed an interview— congrats!
Nowadays, there’s a good chance that your interview will be an online Zoom call. As companies continue to put a pause on in-person operations or opt for remote-first structures, more employees are getting hired after interviewing on video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams.
Though you won’t be sitting across the table from someone, video interviews aren’t necessarily any less daunting than face-to-face meetings! In fact, for some people, they might cause more worry and anxiety.
Zoom interview mistakes to avoid
Before diving in on how you can prepare for your virtual interview, we have a few statistics worth mentioning.
According to a recent survey, hiring managers have some turn offs when it comes to interviewees and virtual interviews. The worst mistakes jobseekers can make are:
- Distracting yourself with other windows on your screen while being interviewed
- Watching yourself instead of making “eye contact” with the interviewer
- Dressing inappropriately, such as wearing pajamas
- Walking around with your phone or laptop during your interview
- Having personal business opened on your computer when sharing your screen
The good news is that all of these common mistakes are avoidable if you spend a few minutes preparing.
How to prepare for a Zoom interview
In many ways, you’ll treat a Zoom interview just as you would an in-person meeting. Be prepared to talk about your qualifications, your work experience, and what you can bring to the company. It’s also a great time for you to learn more about the company and get a better understanding of whether or not the position would be a good fit for you.
Still, there are a few extra things to consider when preparing for a virtual video interview. Here’s what to keep in mind.
1. Find the right location.
No one wants to see your partner make lunch in the kitchen behind you while you’re answering questions about your work experience. If you don’t have a home office, you’ll want to set up your desktop, computer, tablet, or phone in a private location. For best results, look for an area that is:
- Well-lit: Dark rooms tend to produce a grainy video. To get the best picture quality, situate yourself in a room with good lighting or near a window that provides natural, soft light. Make sure that the light is shining in front of you or from the side. Bright light coming from behind you will darken your image, making it hard for interviewers to see your face.
- Tidy: This is especially important if you aren’t using a virtual background during your video call. Do a quick scan of what appears in your video’s frame and tidy up any clutter.
- Quiet: We can’t always control what goes on outside of our home, but try to pick the quietest area. Noise from the street, neighbors, or other members of your household can interrupt audio or be distracting during the call.
And a quick note about virtual backgrounds— unless you’re applying for a role as Chief Meme Officer, keep it professional.
2. Ensure your call will be distraction-free.
Next, ensure that your call will be as distraction-free as possible. Distractions can not only keep you off your A-game, but they can also cause the interviewer to lose focus when you are talking. That’s not a good combination!
Before your call, make sure your four-legged friend has been outside to do their business and is quiet in another room. If you’ve got little ones at home, make sure that they’re going to be entertained for the duration of your interview. Inform other household members that you will be on an important video call and to not disturb.
3. Test your equipment.
Technical difficulties are a part of life nowadays, but many issues can be avoided with a little preparation.
First, check that your device’s battery is charged and that your power cord is plugged in or nearby.
Second, ensure that everything is running smoothly with your computer and wifi. Most video conferencing platforms allow you to test your audio, video, and internet connection before a call. Be sure to give yourself a little extra time to do this in case you need to troubleshoot any issues.
4. Dress the part.
Unfortunately, the sweats that we’ve all been wearing during COVID aren’t going to cut it for a video interview. Dress as if you were going to meet the team in person, which usually falls somewhere between business casual and formal business attire, depending on your line of work.
5. Get your desk ready with things you’d bring to an in-person interview.
Prepare as though you are going to an in-person interview and gather the following items to have within reach:
- A notebook
- A pen
- A copy of your resume that you can refer to if the interviewer has specific questions
- Questions to ask your interviewer
- A bottle of water
It’s also a good idea to know where your resume, cover letter, and references are located in your computer files. You may be asked to resend those documents and having them ready to go reflects well on your organizational skills.
6. Be on time.
Professionals expect timeliness no matter the setting, but this is especially true for virtual interviews. Avoid scheduling other meetings or commitments immediately before your interview. Get yourself situated ten to fifteen minutes before your call and use the spare time to drink some water, breathe deeply, and give yourself positive affirmations.
7. Make eye contact, smile, and be confident.
Lastly, remember to smile and be confident throughout your interview! Your positivity and energy can be felt by the people on the other side of your screen.
Resist the temptation to watch yourself in the bottom corner throughout the call. Instead, maintain eye contact with your interviewer by watching their image when they speak and looking at the camera when it’s your turn to talk. Use body language such as head nods to convey that you are actively listening. All of this may feel awkward at first, but it will show that you are engaged and focused on the interview.
Find the right job with JobSage
At JobSage, we’re setting out to build an employer review site around transparency and the things that matter most to jobseekers like inclusion, growth, purpose, feedback, flexibility, and compensation.
We want to help jobseekers like you find the right employer by getting answers to the questions you care about. Join JobSage for guidance in your job search or to leave a review for your employer to create a more open, transparent conversation in and around the workplace.
Good luck, you got this!