Already before 2020, remote working and digital nomads were on the uprise. Ever since then, working remotely has become the new normal. And part of that is doing video interviews!
Chances are you’ve already had a video interview and wondered how the interview prep would be different from an on-site recruitment process. Or you’re about to have your first virtual interview. Regardless, here are some Zoom interview tips to make your next interview your best one yet – let’s get started!
A Zoom interview is a recruitment interview conducted via the video call software Zoom. It is a replacement for an in-person interview for remote teams, digital nomads, or companies where the employees work from home due to COVID-19 restrictions.
During a Zoom interview, the interviewee and the recruiter can use features such as audio/video, text chat, file sharing, and screen sharing. We'll cover our best Zoom interview tips to help you get the most out of your video interview. You'll learn to think about before, during, and after to ace the call and get that job.
A successful Zoom interview starts just after you wake up in the morning. It could be tempting to think that clothes don’t matter as much during a virtual interview as an in-person one – but think again! Your clothes are visible to the hiring manager.
And don't neglect the lower half of your body. If the doorbell rings or you need to adjust a lamp, showing your flower-printed pajamas trousers can dampen the positive impression of your PowerPoint presentation.
Dressing well also means adapting to the company and position. A law firm probably has a stricter dress code than a startup.
There are some common interview questions you can expect to show up – for example, the dreaded “what is one of your weaknesses?”. Practice answering these questions confidently. You can practice with a friend or by opening Zoom and starting the video as you talk through the questions.
Pro tip: hiring managers love a good story. Simply saying that you possess a skill has little substance. Examples and stories are invaluable to prove that you're telling the truth.
We don’t mean showing up at their doorstep – but do your research. By looking at the company website, LinkedIn and Twitter, you can probably find at least one thing you have in common. During the interview, find the opportunity to mention and bond over that thing, and you’ll take on pole position compared to the other candidates.
Or compliment them on one of their achievements from a genuine place of passion and excitement.
Read up on the company. Check for recent launches, media mentions, and awards. Their website and social media should provide the relevant info (if not, you’re hopefully applying for a marketing role!).
If you’re interviewing for a digital marketing-related or web development role, study the company website meticulously and note down 2-3 things you would like to improve. You’ll likely get asked about this during the interview.
Prepare a few questions to show interest. Some pointers: ask about the company culture/work environment, what a typical day looks like, what the company’s vision is, and how the vision is incorporated into the daily work.
We strongly recommend checking the light with your Zoom camera on. Sometimes, the room can appear well lit – yet you look like a dark shadow on Zoom. A good bet is to have a lamp behind the screen and slightly above your head.
If you wear glasses, check that the angle doesn’t produce reflections that hide your eyes.
Coworking spaces and cafes can provide a welcome break from sitting at home if you work remotely. They often have private rooms for calls – check if you need to reserve one beforehand. If you work from home, tell your family or housemates that you have an interview and need some privacy.
Choose a place with good wifi coverage. If you work in a noisy environment or shared space, you may consider taking the interview from a small room. If so, check the connection before the call. The last thing you want is to run all around the house or cafe after the interview has started looking for a quiet spot with decent internet.
Even if you’re used to Zoom meetings by now, double-check that everything is working. And read through the interview confirmation. Maybe it’s on Google Meet or Teams? Do you need to download or install a new version to participate? Create an account? And if you have one, do you remember your password? Also, check that you got potential timezone differences right.
Whatever the video software, start a new call and check the audio and video (including lighting). Ensure the camera is on a good height – neither too high nor too low.
Zoom and other video software behave differently on cellphones. You may find that it shows a more zoomed-in image of you. Plus, if you passed the screening interview and have prepared an assignment, you may want to share your screen and go through your answers – which can be much more complicated on the phone.
Another one that might seem obvious but that you don’t want to forget! Ideally, you have access to a charger during the interview. If not, make sure you have a fully charged laptop to be on the safe side.
If you didn’t have time to clean your room or want to keep it private, opt for one of the built-in backgrounds in Zoom. Just avoid the kitten filter. If you haven’t used a virtual background before, practice how to activate it before the call.
To partially contradict the previous point, showcasing things relevant to the position can be a strategic move.
For example, if you’re hiring for a sports management role, place an award from competition in the background. If you’re interviewing for a social media management position, place your framed golden YouTube play button on the wall behind you. And for a more artistic role, let the hiring manager see your excellent taste in art.
You don’t want the sound of Slack or other messaging apps to disturb you during the interview. Close private information such as your email inbox or photos if you plan on screen sharing.
Also, declutter your screen and maximize the Zoom window to help you stay focused and listen during the interview. A zen screen gives a zen mind.
This includes the company website, your CV, and notes. It might be easier to take notes with paper and a pen on the side. Have an extra pen ready if one stops working.
It can be practical to open several windows and have all the material you need side by side to avoid clicking on tabs.
This goes without saying. If something unexpected came up last minute, sincerely apologize and inform the hiring manager as soon as possible. Try not to make a big deal of it after apologizing. Ideally, avoid planning activities just before the interview and have everything ready a few minutes before the indicated time.
Many of our tips are mandatory to ace your interview – this one is not. However, the touch-up function can give a welcome confidence boost. You access it in the Zoom settings to add a light, natural filter that hides impurities and makes your skin glow.
Speaking of confidence: remember to look into the camera. This mimics eye contact, which exudes confidence. It’s tempting to check your appearance, but the recruiter will notice. You don’t want to seem more interested in checking yourself out than having a meaningful conversation.
Feeling nervous? Practice makes perfect! Open a Zoom call and practice speaking to yourself.
Your body language matters even during a virtual interview. Playing with your hair or fiddling with a pen gives a nervous impression. And avoid looking at your phone, even if it’s outside the picture. Breathe deeply and keep your spine straight to feel more calm and self-assured.
Ever experienced speaking fast with a high-pitched voice when nervous? You’re not alone. It’s normal to have butterflies in your stomach before an important meeting.
The risks of misunderstandings are bigger during a video interview than in person. Therefore, pay extra attention to speaking slowly and clearly.
We have one mouth – but two ears. It’s normal to want to shine during an interview, but remember that it’s also an opportunity for the employer to test your communication skills. And no one wants a team member who’s constantly cutting off others and incapable of listening.
Pay attention when the recruiter shares about the company and the role. Then, ask intelligent questions showing that you listened. Pro tip: get them to talk about themselves and their motivation for working at the organization!
Using the mute button is the virtual way of saying that you listen. It’s good Zoom manners to mute yourself when the other person is talking. This allows for a noise-free conversation – and lets them focus on what they’re saying and not worrying whether a sudden background noise is you trying to interrupt.
If you’re sincerely interested in the job, let the hiring manager know at the end of the interview. Tell them that you would be happy to move forward. Ask how long it will take before you hear back from them (sometimes, they can’t give an exact answer – more on that in the next point).
Sending a thank-you email afterward can make you stand out. However, you want it to come naturally.
The thank-you email is meant to be a nice gesture and not to put pressure on the next steps in the hiring process. A strategic move is thus to mention something the hiring manager wants to know more about. For example, a magazine you think they would like – and tell them that you'll send the link afterward.
If the recruiter didn’t give you a timeline, wait for at least five business days before you reach out to them. Express that you enjoyed the interview and ask when they can leave a decision. If you have interviewed for other companies or even got an offer, mentioning it can be a smart move.
Hopefully, by following these tips, you’re getting a job offer from your dream company. If you get a no, politely reply to the email and thank the company for their consideration while wishing them all the best in finding the ideal candidate. You never know when new opportunities show up.
People remember how you make them feel, so a well-intended email today can land you your dream job tomorrow!
Michael started his career as a product manager and then developed a passion for writing. He has been writing on technology, remote working, productivity, etc., hoping to share his thoughts with more people.