If you feel anxiety over job interviews, you’re not alone. According to a survey from JDP, 93% of Americans have experienced anxiety related to a job interview. Virtual interviews can increase feelings of anxiety and uncertainty due to unexpected distractions, Zoom fatigue and the feeling that it’s harder to connect with the hiring manager. However, even though some companies have gone back to interviewing in person after the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual interviews are here to stay and they can be done successfully. Here’s what to know.
What Is a Zoom Interview?
A Zoom interview is a job interview that is held via videoconferencing software instead of in person. Zoom is one of the most common video programs that companies use for job interviews. It’s easy to use and convenient for both parties. It’s free to download and, if you are not hosting the meeting, you don’t need to create an account with Zoom to use it. A job interview via Zoom or any other video software program should be taken as seriously as an in-person interview. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind as you prepare for a Zoom interview.
1)Know your technology.
Using video technology for a job interview requires a little more preparation. For example, you are probably very familiar with using Zoom if you worked remotely during the pandemic, but it’s still best to take some extra time to review all of Zoom’s features before a job interview and make sure you have the latest updates installed. This will help you to feel more comfortable and avoid any technical issues during the interview. When you review your Zoom software for updates, make sure that your computer has the latest updates installed as well – you don’t want your computer to force a system update in the middle of your job interview. Make any needed updates the day before your job interview.
This is an important detail that you don’t want to leave until the last minute. Having a stable internet connection is essential for a successful Zoom interview. Check the internet strength in the location you plan to use for your interview. Does the Wi-Fi tend to drop out in that area? Consider having your interview in the same room as your router. You can also ask any members of your household to disable their Wi-Fi connections on their devices during your interview so that the connection doesn’t get slowed down.
3)Have a backup plan.
Even with the best interview setup, it’s helpful to have a backup plan in case your computer or internet unexpectedly gives you trouble during your interview. If possible, have a charger and a secondary computer or tablet close by. You can also ask the hiring manager for the phone number to dial in to the call if you didn’t receive it in the Zoom meeting invitation.
4)Prepare for your interview.
You should prepare for a Zoom interview as you would for an in-person job interview. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a Zoom interview is less formal just because it’s a video call. While you can glance at your notes during the interview for reference, avoid thinking that you can simply read your answers from your notecards; the hiring manager will be able to tell if you are reading. Instead, practice speaking naturally.
5)Practice your on-screen engagement.
You may find that you need to make an extra effort for your personality to shine through during a video interview. You may find it helpful to hold a practice session with a friend or family member. Ask them for their feedback on your enthusiasm, gestures and if you seem engaged over the screen. You can also record your practice interview and watch how you come across on the screen to make any needed adjustments.
Eye contact is important during any job interview. However, many times we naturally look at the person on the screen while talking, thinking we are making eye contact with them. However, it may not come across as eye contact on their end. To solve this issue, during a Zoom interview, you will want to make eye contact by looking directly into your camera as opposed to looking at the hiring manager on the screen.
7)Dress (fully) for success.
When picking out your attire for your Zoom interview, choose something that you would wear if you were going to the meeting in person. This speaks to your professionalism and will help you feel more confident. Of course, dress codes will vary by industry, but choose something appropriate that also looks good on camera. Avoid patterns that are too busy, and pay attention to smaller details. Keep in mind that the hiring manager will not be able to see your whole outfit, so your shirt or top should be ironed and any jewelry should not overpower you or be distracting on the screen. You should still plan on being fully dressed in case you have to stand up or move for any reason.
Zoom has the capability of using filters, and with their “studio effects,” you can add makeup and other beauty enhancements. While you may find that the overall “touch up my appearance” setting may be helpful, using too many filters on-screen can backfire on you. If you have to move around on-screen, the hiring manager may see that your enhancements flicker on and off. It’s best to get ready for your Zoom interview as you would if you were going to an in-person interview.
9)Choose a neutral background.
While Zoom does allow you to choose scenic and solid-color virtual backgrounds, sometimes this can be more distracting than helpful. Instead, simply choose a neutral background, such as a wall that is mostly neutral. Some background decoration can be appropriate, but don’t overdo it. If you don’t have a good neutral background in your home and need to use a virtual background, consider using the “blur” option. This will blur what is in your background and keep your face in focus.
When choosing a location for your job interview, you will want to take into account details such as noise level. A noisy location will be distracting for you and for the hiring manager. Try to use a room in your home with a door that closes. If you need to go elsewhere for your Zoom interview, ensure that there isn’t loud music or activity that could be distracting.
11)Pick a well-lit location.
It’s important to also make sure that the location you choose for your Zoom interview has good lighting so that the hiring manager can see you clearly. A dark location will make you look shadowy and grainy and won’t give the best impression during your interview. You may find that it’s helpful to purchase a ring light to attach to your computer for extra lighting.
12)Know how and when to mute.
When the hiring manager is speaking for an extended period of time, muting your microphone means they won’t be able to hear anything on your end. This will allow them to speak without losing their train of thought. If there are dogs, children or other unexpected background noises while you are speaking, you can say something like, “I apologize, one moment please,” and mute yourself briefly. You can mute yourself by clicking once on the microphone icon in the Zoom meeting. Depending on the device you use, the microphone icon may be in a different spot, so again, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the Zoom platform before you have your interview.
Desktop notifications are distracting to you and the hiring manager during your interview. Check your computer settings and disable any notifications that you receive. Close any programs that send audible alerts, such as WhatsApp or Slack on your desktop, and silence your cellphone during your job interview.
14)Log in early.
You should log in to your computer early, just as you would arrive at an in-person interview. Aim to be set up for your interview 10 to 15 minutes early, make sure that your documents are uploaded and ready to send if necessary, and that your presentation or portfolio is loaded for a screen share. If you plan on sharing your screen during the interview, make sure to clear your computer screen of anything potentially embarrassing or distracting.
It may be helpful to ask the hiring manager in advance how early you can log into the actual Zoom meeting for your interview, in case they are interviewing someone else before you. This will ensure that you don’t log into someone else’s interview unexpectedly.
15)Allow for lag time.
Even with the best internet connection, there can be some lag time between when you speak and when the hiring manager hears you on their end. Be patient and wait a reasonable amount of time for the hiring manager to respond to you. Don’t continuously ask them “Can you hear me?” since this will detract from their overall impression of you.
If you didn’t hear the hiring manager during your Zoom interview due to a lag on your end, don’t be afraid to let them know there was a slight lag and ask them politely to repeat the question. It’s better to let them know than to pretend that you can hear them and not provide the correct response.
16)Find out what the next steps are.
As with any job interview, you will want to ask the hiring manager what the next steps are after your Zoom interview. When should you expect to hear back from them and when can you follow up? If you need to submit any additional paperwork, where should you send those, and to whom? Make sure you are clear on what you need to do after your Zoom interview.