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How to Nail a Zoom Interview




COVID-19 has not only changed where we do our jobs, it has changed how we get those jobs.

Video platforms — such as Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams — are the new norm for job interviews. And that means in addition to being a standout candidate with excellent interviewing skills, you must also be proficient at video interviews — stat.

Addie X, a pharma sales manager for a biotech startup, has plenty of experience conducting Zoom interviews. For the past few weeks she has been interviewing up to 8 people a day to fill the hiring needs in her fast-growing firm.

‘I’ve seen some really great candidates who have excellent credentials and proven track records, yet not progress in the hiring process, solely due to blunders in how they showed up during the Zoom interview.’ Addie X, pharma sales manager

And as video interviews appear to be with us for the long haul, Addie emphasizes, ‘If you do not master the Zoom interview, you will be at a distinct disadvantage.’

So we’ve got two issues: how to nail the Zoom (video) interview and how to show up well for any interview. Both are critically important to get to the next stage. In this post, we will address video interviewing and some of the unique differences from standard in-person interviews.

Video Interview Tips

Do not wait until the day of your video interview to prepare! Start prepping at least a day in advance. Ideally start now, even before you have a confirmed interview.

Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels

Preparation

  • Ask the recruiter which platform will be used for the interview (Zoom, Teams or Skype). Set up a free account to get familiar with the latest features.
  • Set up the account so your professional name appears on the video screen. (First and last name to match your resume). Do not use nicknames.
  • Put a professional-looking photo of yourself on the account (such as your Linked In profile picture). In the event you have technical difficulties during the interview the panel will see your picture instead of a black screen.
  • Set up a professional stock photo background image from a free resource, such as Unsplash. If you prefer not to use a background image, make sure there is nothing revealing in your background (such as political or religious affiliation, dirty dishes, clutter, etc)
  • Use a laptop or monitor. If you must use an iPad or phone, do not hold the device. Use books or a prop to avoid a shaky camera.
  • Review your lighting. You want enough light behind your laptop/monitor to highlight your face clearly. Do not have direct sunlight behind you as it causes distortions.
  • For best sound quality, use headphones with a microphone, unless you are certain your laptop or desktop have proper sound quality.
  • Test the audio and speakers on the platform to make sure your headset or earbuds work appropriately.
  • Practice. Use the video function on your phone to record and review your responses. Or try a free simulated interview platform such as Assessment Day.

Tip: Practicing is critical for video interviews. There is less back and forth conversation over video so you will be answering in a monologue. Succinct responses are critical to keep your audience engaged.

  • Good posture. Either sit up straight or stand.
  • Act naturally. Smile.
  • Look into the camera while speaking.
  • Speak clearly with a moderate tone and a slightly slower cadence than usual.
  • Take note of how many ‘um’s and like’s’ you use.
  • Avoid excessive hand gestures. Hold a pen between your hands to remain conscious of your hand movements. (Or sit on your hands if you must).
  • Center the camera on your face and upper body. (Close but not too close.)
  • Time yourself. Be succinct. For video interviews, do not exceed 2 or 3 minutes per answer to avoid losing your audience.
  • Record yourself giving your ‘elevator pitch’. Review. Repeat and review until you are comfortable.

During the Interview

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

  • Dress for Success. Take time to fully dress as if you were meeting in-person, including your shoes. (Ladies, time to get those heels out of the closet.) Research has shown cognitive performance increases when dressed professionally. Plus, you will feel more confident dressed like you are meeting in the office instead of your living room.

Tip: For video interviews, avoid loud patterns as it can be distracting to the viewer.

  • Have a pen, notepad and a copy of your resume on your desk.
  • Keep your phone nearby as a backup to call or video into the interview in the event of unexpected technical difficulties.
  • Join the interview 2 or 3 minutes before the scheduled start time.
  • Do not comment on the interviewer(s) background.
  • Keep jokes to a minimum. Stay professional and on task. Follow the lead of the interviewer.
  • When listening, nod and smile to show you are engaged.
  • Speak into the camera (but do not stare into it). Be especially mindful to look into the camera during a panel / multiple interviewers situation to avoid appearing to look off-camera.

Tip: For panel interviews, change the view from ‘Gallery’ to ‘Speaker’. Whomever is asking the question will appear in the center of your screen so when you respond, you will appear to be looking right at them.

  • If there is more than one interviewer, address the person who asked the question by name when you respond to allow a more personal connection.

Tip: The interviewers will have their names on screen. The video frame of whomever is speaking will be highlighted to make it obvious who to address.

  • When the interviewer asks a question, avoid saying, ‘That’s a good question.’ A better response is, ‘Thanks for asking, NAME. I have a good example to share….’

In summary, make the most of your limited time. Video interviews tend to be shorter than in-person interviews so every minute counts. And since hiring managers often have back-to-back interviews, they will be more inclined to stick to a strict schedule.

Keep the goal in mind: making it to the next stage in the process. Following these tips will ensure you appear professional, succinct, and well-organized. Assuming your have the technical qualifications, you should feel confident in your video interviewing abilities. You’ve got this!