With the rise of video calls in the workplace, knowing how to prepare for a Zoom interview will go a long way if you want to get hired.
This list of effective Zoom interview tips will help you make a great impression and move on to the next round of the hiring process.
What is a Zoom Interview?
Zoom interviews are meetings that occur over video calls rather than in-person. They occur over Zoom software, a video calling platform somewhat similar to Skype or Facetime. Zoom lets you easily connect with individuals one-on-one for private meetings or entire teams at once.
These interviews have become more and more popular over the years, and many companies opt for conducting Zoom interviews for convenience and efficiency (especially when interviewing candidates for remote jobs). The calls usually occur at home or in a private office.
The conversation is online through the video platform, so you can see the interviewer and read their body language. The only difference is that you’re not in the same physical space. However, this means preparing for a Zoom interview is a bit different than one that’s conducted in person.
Zoom Interview Tips
It’s just as important to make a great impression during a Zoom interview as it is during an in person one. Don’t let the somewhat depersonalized medium trick you into thinking the stakes aren’t high!
Here are some of our favorite Zoom interview tips that will help you make it to the next stage of the hiring process.
1. Start Up Zoom in Advance
This is an essential Zoom interview tip that many people overlook. Don’t let the first time you download and open Zoom be two minutes before your scheduled interview! Take some time to familiarize yourself with the software.
You might have used platforms like Skype in the past, but Zoom is a bit different. Figure out its features, tweak the setting to get the picture just right, and make sure everything is running properly. Perform any updates and even consider doing a few test calls.
It’s best to position the camera at eye level so you aren’t looking down at your computer screen. This may require putting some books under your device to raise it higher.
Check that the audio and video features are working perfectly, and spend a little time getting the right camera placement to look your best.
2. Pay Attention to What’s Behind You
Don’t make the mistake of having a non-professional background. A messy living room or inappropriate decorative items can reflect poorly on you. This interview is supposed to be a time of professional etiquette. You want to impress the interviewer and treat the entire experience as if you were walking into a physical office.
Have your background match the professional vibes you want to give off. Keep the decor relatively neutral. A blank wall works just fine!
Some like to go with virtual backgrounds, but a real wall with office-like decorations is always the best choice.
3. Think of the Lighting
Make sure to set up shop in a brightly lit room. There’s nothing worse than having an ugly shadow cast across your face as you speak to the interviewer. Not only can it make you look odd, but poor lighting can make it difficult for people to see your facial expressions.
Go into a well-lit room. You can set your computer up by a big window for natural light. Just make sure you face the window so the light is coming from the front. Alternatively, you can try putting up photography lights or turning on lamps. Whatever you do, make sure your face is well-lit (but not overexposed).
The best time to do this is several days before the Zoom interview so you have a chance to reposition your setup if needed.
4. Be Mindful of Your Body Language
If you want to ace an interview on Zoom, don’t forget that you have a camera on you at all times! This isn’t a phone call. You can’t look disinterested or make faces when you hear something unexpected.
Be professional and use the fact that the interviewer can see you to your advantage. The camera can be a valuable tool to help you convey your thoughts and ideas. Positive body language can show that you’re actively listening even when you’re not speaking.
Putting on a smile and nodding to the interviewer’s words can make all the difference. It shows that you’re taking this experience seriously and want the job.
5. Go Somewhere Quiet
One of the most important Zoom interview tips is to find a quiet place! If you have a home office, shut the doors so you don’t get disturbed. If you don’t have an office, go into an empty room that doesn’t have distractions.
You want to keep noise to a minimum. Excess noise makes it difficult for you to hear what the interviewer says. Plus, it can create a massive distraction. Your microphone doesn’t just pick up your voice.
Find a quiet room, close the doors, and keep all children or pets out.
6. Don’t Do the Zoom Interview on Your Phone
Technically, you can use Zoom on multiple platforms. The software is available on an app for your phone and even your tablet. But if you want to be as prepared as possible for your Zoom interview, it’s best to use a computer.
Video calls on a phone can feel far too relaxed for a business setting. It’s more akin to having a fun conversation with your friends. Plus, there’s the issue of propping up your device.
Your arm will get tired, and there’s nothing worse than watching someone fiddle with a phone that keeps falling after it’s propped up. All that movement can be a bit much. Avoid the weird angles and random camera movement by using your computer if you have one available.
7. Do What You Can to Make Sure Your Internet is Running Smoothly
Here’s a tip for Zoom interviews that many people don’t think about until it’s too late. Your internet connection might be reliable most of the time, but problems can happen. Speeds can slow down due to tons of traffic, leaving your Zoom call’s video and audio quality a jumbled mess.
To limit wireless connection issues, connect your computer to LAN if you can. If not, find a spot in your home where the Wi-Fi signal is strongest. Then, take steps to gain more bandwidth for the call.
Stop downloads, limit others on your network from streaming video, and turn off any devices that connect to your Internet. Free up as much bandwidth as possible to ensure that you have crystal-clear video and sound.
8. Speak Clearly & Don’t Rush
It’s easy to rush through Zoom interviews, but you must remember that they take some time. Zipping through a question isn’t going to do you any favors. In fact, it’ll probably hurt your chances.
Talking too fast presents a couple of problems. First, it doesn’t work with technology. Even fast Internet connections can experience slight latency or dips in quality.
A half-second audio drop can make your entire statement impossible to understand if you’re talking too quickly.
Secondly, speaking fast can come off as rambling or makes you look unprepared, nervous, and frazzled. That’s never a good thing.
Be calm and confident. Speak at an average pace and take things easy.
9. Ignore Unexpected Distractions
Distractions are bound to happen. You might control your environment now, but all it takes is one loud noise or in-your-face visual to pull your attention. Maybe your kids burst through the door crying, or your dog suddenly starts barking in the other room.
Whatever happens, do your best to ignore it (unless it’s an emergency). Your interviewer’s time is valuable. Taking a small break to address those distractions is a huge time waster. Unless the distraction is actively preventing you from contributing to the discussion, ignore it and deal with the problem later.
10. Practice Answering Common Interview Questions
Every Zoom interview is unique, but many of the same questions come up. Before your scheduled interview date, take time to prepare by running through common questions.
Don’t wait to develop responses on the spot. You want to think about your answers and create well-thought-out responses that stick. Practice with a friend and get confident saying what you need to say.
Avoid creating scripts you memorize verbatim. It’s better to have an organic response to questions as they come up. But you can always jot down a few bullet points you want to hit for every interview question and ensure you cover all the bases.
11. Do Your Best to Look Into the Camera
This Zoom interview tip can be a bit tricky to put into practice, but it’s worth it. Because you’re not meeting in person, you have to work a little harder in order to show that you’re engaged. In addition to simple body language cues, try your best to focus your eyes on the camera.
It’s only natural to want to stare at the screen. After all, that’s where the live video of your interviewer is. But here’s the thing: The camera is probably up on the top of your computer screen.
When you stare at the video feed, it looks like you’re looking down (especially if the window of the person speaking is near the bottom of your screen). But when you point your eyes more toward the camera, it feels as if you’re looking at the interviewer straight in the eye. It gives off confidence and a touch of professionalism.
12. Keep Your Computer Charged
This Zoom interview tip isn’t fancy, but it deserves a dedicated mention. If you’re using a laptop, keep it charged. If possible, plug it into the wall for the entire call.
If you must run on battery during your Zoom interview, ensure that your computer is fully charged before the call. Losing power mid-call can interrupt the flow of the interview, frustrate all parties involved, and even make you look unprepared.
It’s an issue that you can easily avoid.
13. Silence Your Phone & Turn Off Computer Notifications
Earlier, we mentioned that you need to ignore all distractions. And the larger, more obvious distractions like kids and pets often come to mind.
But one distraction many fail to consider is notifications. You might get alerts on your phone, a smartwatch, or even the computer you’re using for the Zoom interview. Turn them all off to have an uninterrupted call.
Many modern computers have “don’t disturb” or “focus” modes. Please take advantage of them to keep your devices quiet.
14. Pick the Right Outfit
Just because you’re interviewing at home doesn’t mean you can dress in your pajamas! This is a professional interview, and your outfit should reflect that. In fact, we’d say that it’s good Zoom interview etiquette even if you’ve already been hired!
Do some research about the company’s dress code. Once you figure out what it is, choose an outfit modeled after it.
A good rule is to dress one level above the company’s typical code. If employees wear business casual, try business formal. If it’s relaxed, pop on a business casual shirt.
The goal is to look professional to reassure the interviewer that you’re taking this call seriously.
15. Remember the Mute Button
This is easily one of the most important Zoom interview tips on the list. One handy feature of Zoom is the trusted mute button. As the name would imply, the mute button silences your microphone. It’s a great tool to use in those moments when noise is difficult to avoid.
Say, for example, your kids barge into the room during your call (it happens to the best of us). With the click of your mouse, you can save the interviewer from hearing their cries. Mute the call, deal with the situation, and get back to it!
You can also use the mute button for simple things like coughs, sneezes, and sudden noises that come up. It’s a courtesy that prevents jarring sounds from startling your interviewer.
16. Look Up Who’s Going to Be Interviewing You
If possible, try to figure out who you will talk to during the call. Knowing who your interviewer is will help you prepare for the Zoom interview in a couple of ways.
For one, it gives you the chance to learn more. You can research their role in the hiring process, what they do for the company, and more. That little tidbit goes a long way, allowing you to develop your answers accordingly.
It also helps you connect with them a bit better. For example, knowing that you’re talking to the head of HR will let you approach the conversation from that standpoint. Your responses might be slightly different than if you were talking to the hiring manager. You can even use this information to craft any questions you ask later.
17. Ask Some Questions
Your Zoom interview works both ways. It’s not all about the interviewer learning more about you. It’s also an opportunity to ask about things you need information on.
When preparing for a Zoom interview, write down a list of potential questions to ask. Pull inspiration from your research and think about things you genuinely want to know.
Asking questions pays off dividends. It provides more clarification on your end, helping you determine if this job is something you genuinely want to do. More importantly, it looks good from a hiring standpoint.
Asking unique questions shows that you’re interested and motivated. It indicates that you’re in this for more than just a paycheck.
18. Speak Up if Someone Cuts Out
Connections can falter, and people can drop out. That’s the reality of working over the internet. Even with blazing-fast speeds and general reliability, things aren’t always seamless.
The problem with quick dropouts is that there’s no way for the person talking to know it happened. They only know that you missed something if you speak up. Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat what they said if the connection goes bad.
They understand the unique challenges of a Zoom interview. It’s better to ask for clarification now than to misinterpret something later.
19. Join the Zoom Call at the Right Time
This is a Zoom interview tip that many job-seekers aren’t aware of. Whether you’re talking to a single person or participating in a panel-style call, never enter the interview extremely early.
Zoom creates digital rooms for users to conduct video interviews. In some cases, interviewers will use a single room to conduct multiple meetings. Joining the call too early could mean barging into another person’s interview in real time. It’s the same as barging into a physical office during a private meeting!
Be on time, but wait until about two or three minutes before your scheduled interview to join the call. If the previous candidate is still in there talking to the interviewer, back out of the room to provide privacy.
20. Send a Thank You Email
Our last Zoom interview tip is an easy one.
Send a thank you email shortly after your interview. It’s the courteous thing to do, and it might be what puts you over the edge. Bring up a specific detail about your conversation with the interviewer to jog their memory.
Then, thank them for their time and reiterate your interest in the role.
If you keep these Zoom interview tips in mind while you prepare for the call, you’re going to be in great shape when the big day comes. Taking some extra time to get things right will make the experience effortless for both you and the interviewer, and give you a greater chance of getting hired.
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.