By Amanda Crawford
Zoom Interviews have become the new standard of interviewing. But for those used to face-to-face interviews, Zoom Interviews can seem like a minefield of professional missteps and technical difficulties. We compiled a list of 10 Zoom Interview Tips to help you avoid these pitfalls and ace your upcoming interviews!
1. Dress for a Face-To-Face Interview
While Zoom interviews may seem like the perfect time to pair your blazer with pajama pants, the
“Business on the top, Comfort on the Bottom” look should be avoided. Not only are you setting yourself up for an embarrassing moment when you stand up to adjust your camera, dressing professionally can actually boost your confidence and performance in an interview.
“Put your work shoes on,” says Adam Sanders, director of Successful Release, which helps felons find work after reentering society. “It might seem strange to wear your shoes during a videoconference, but it has an important psychological effect on you.”
The definition of “professional” may vary depending on company culture, but a good rule of thumb is to go one step further than the company’s dress code. Wearing a polo shirt to an interview with a formal company could come across as disrespectful or sloppy, but wearing a full three-piece suit to an interview with a casual startup could make you look out-of-touch or stuffy. Before the interview, spend some time on the company website. What are other employees wearing? How do they present themselves? Model your Zoom Interview attire after what you see.
And avoid wrinkled shirts, (or no shirt), wet hair, and bathrobes, which are all real looks Arrow Staffing recruiters have reported!
2. Dress for Your Camera
While you should maintain the standards of an in-person interview, Zoom interviews have a few extra pitfalls to avoid when it comes to your outfit. Video cameras have a notoriously hard-time picking up certain patterns.
Small, repeating patterns like houndstooth, chevron, and small stripes all confuse the auto-detection systems, can lead to unfocused, blurry video quality, even if you have a great video camera.
The color of your background also affects how you appear on camera. Contrast also plays a huge role in video quality, so don’t blend in you with your background! If you have a white/light background, wear dark colors like black, navy, and burgundy to stand out. If you have a dark background, utilize neutrals and pastels for enhanced contrast.
3. Create Your Own Lighting
Recruiters and hiring managers are trained to pay attention to facial expressions in an interview. But they can’t do that if your face is not visible. Luckily, there are three different strategies you can choose from depending on your current lighting and budget.
Option 1. Use a ring light
Ring Lights are an easy-to-use, low-cost lighting solution. Ring Lights are LED strips shaped into a circle, creating a diffused, “halo-like” light that illuminates your face and eliminates shadows. Ring Lights can be purchased at Amazon, Walmart, and any tech store, with prices ranging from around $15-$25 dollars. Especially if you expect to be working from home/regularly attending virtual meetings, Ring Lights are a worthwhile investment/
Option 2. Use lighting you already have
If you aren’t interested in purchasing new lighting, you can create flattering light, using what you already have! Position two lamps behind your laptop-not behind you. This will avoid shadows and sharp contrast. LED lamps are preferable to other kinds of bulbs- they put out less heat and won’t make you sweat during a long interview.
Option 3. Natural Lighting
If you only have overhead lighting, don’t worry! Natural lighting is actually the most flattering light. Natural Lighting naturally disperses, so no harsh contrast or discoloration. To best utilize natural light, position yourself by a north-facing window, facing the window.
4. Minimize Sound
When interviewing from home, external noises can be a significant concern, especially if you have children or pets. Being interrupted by barking dogs or crying children is a major distraction, and can be a red flag for interviewers.
To avoid this mishap, walk your pets before your interview, ask your family for quiet time, and no interruptions (with an exception for emergencies concerning life, limb, and eyesight). If all fails, hover your cursor over the mute button and be prepared to silence yourself when outside noise interferes with your interview.
Your background on Zoom has a big impact on your interview; after all, the interviewers will be looking at it for an hour. Your background should be just as professional as your outfit.
You wouldn’t wear a dirty outfit to a job interview, and your background shouldn’t be dirty either. An unmade bed, cluttered desk, or a messy living room all show a lack of attention and organization, two key traits interviewers look for in a candidate. Of course, you don’t need to deep clean your entire living space, but make sure everything visible in the frame is neat and professional.
6. Improve Your Audio
Bad video is human; bad audio is unforgivable ~ Oscar Wilde
That’s not a real quote, but I wanted to convey the importance of good audio quality. If you take nothing else away from this piece, please know that good audio is essential to video interviews. You need to be able to present your qualifications and professional skills. You can’t do that with constant static or muffled sound. If you notice interviewers often asking you to speak louder or repeat yourself, you might have low computer audio quality. This is normal; most laptop computers have poor onboard audio quality. Try using a headset or headphones with a speaker built-in instead of your default microphone. A small lapel microphone can also be a valuable investment. Retailing for $10-15, lapel mics can significantly improve your audio.
7. Eye Contact
Where do you look during a Zoom call?
- At Yourself
- At the other person
- At your Camera
Surprisingly, it’s C, not B. While it’s polite to make direct eye contact in a face-to-face interview, it works a little differently over Zoom. When you look at your screen on a video call, your eyes actually look unfocused instead of attentive. Looking at the camera is the best way to approximate eye contact virtually.
You can also improve eye contact by elevating your laptop by placing it atop books, boxes, or other flat surfaces. This way you won’t hunch or slouch down to align yourself with the screen.
8. Test Your Equipment
Why is it that your internet freezes at the worst possible time? How does your computer know how to ruin your life? While random acts of circumstance are hard to avoid, luckily you can easily test your equipment ahead of time and set yourself up for success.
How to Test Your WIFI
- Download/Open the Google WIFI app.
- Tap the Settings and actions tab and then Network & general.
- Tap Test Wi-Fi.
- A checkmark will appear next to the device name when the test is complete.
- The speed results will appear for each device.
- Once all tests have been completed, tap Redo to run the tests again. If you’re finished, tap Done.
How to Test Your Camera/Audio
- Visit http://zoom.us/test.
- Click the Join button to launch Zoom
- The test meeting will display a pop-up window to test your speakers. If you don’t hear the ringtone, use the drop-down menu or click No to switch speakers until you hear the ringtone. Click Yes to continue to the microphone test.
- If you don’t hear an audio reply, use the drop-down menu or click No to switch microphones until you hear the replay. Click Yes when you hear the replay
- Click Join with Computer Audio to see and hear yourself in the test video.
9. Be early
Being early to a zoom interview may seem strange. You aren’t dealing with traffic or trying to find the right room, so why would you show up early to your own desk? But being early allows you extra time to prepare, check your equipment, and take a deep breath. Not to mention, being early for an interview can show that you are prepared and care about punctuality.
Josh Doody, a hiring manager, and salary negotiation coach, says that “If we set up an interview for 11, and I call into the video interview at 11 and it says you’re not there, I’m frustrated right away,” Doody said. “Implicitly, I think, ‘Oh they couldn’t even be on time for this interview, are they going to be on time for deliverables?’
10. After Zoom
The interview doesn’t end after you close your zoom window. Post-interview practices can have a huge impact on hiring decisions. Julie Ward, a regional manager for Arrow Staffing, highly recommends sending a thank-you email after the interview. “It stands out when I receive a thank-you email after a zoom interview. 90 % of applicants do not follow-up zoom interviews with a thank you email. It shows that you are engaged and really want the position. In addition, it shows your writing skill, which is a skill many employers look for. If I get a thank you email, the applicant is that much closer to a second interview.” says Ward.
Thank-yous aren’t just a perfunctory gesture either; the content and timing of the message matter. It’s best to send the thank-you within 24 hours of the interview. If you don’t know what to include in your Thank-You, utilize a template and include specific information about the company/interview.