Tips for Interviewing via Zoom

This post was orginally published on https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/articles/tips-for-job-interviews-via-zoom

Virtual interviews are here to stay. Follow these tips for success.

How do you feel about job interviews? 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 are starting to interview in person as the pandemic eases up, 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 video 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.

Zoom Interview Success

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.

Practice and ask for feedback.

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. You may find it helpful to hold a practice session with a friend or family member. Ask them for their feedback on your enthusiasm and if you seem engaged over the screen. You may find that you need to make an extra effort for your personality to shine through during a video interview. You can also record your practice interview and watch how you come across on the screen to make any needed adjustments.

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 have been working 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.

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.

Log in early.

You should log in to your interview early, just as you would arrive at an in-person interview. Aim to log on to your interview 10 to 15 minutes early, 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.

Pick a quiet location.

Other Zoom interview tips include analyzing your location. When choosing a location for your job interview, take into account details such as lighting, noise level and reliable Wi-Fi. 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.

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.

Silence notifications.

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.

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.

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