Wondering how to prepare for a Zoom interview? Zoom interviews have become common over the last few years but that doesn’t make them any less daunting to prepare for. While you don’t have to travel to the interview site or even wear uncomfortable pants, there are still a lot of things to think about as you prepare.
We asked HR and recruiting experts for their top tips to help you prepare for your next Zoom interview.
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How to Prepare for a Zoom Interview
Learn About the Company
Review the company website, especially the ‘About Us’ section, to learn about the company culture and discover the values that are important to the company. It is surprising how often candidates neglect to do this. You can also see if the company has a blog, and if so, read some of the posts. This will help you learn more about the company and get a sense of whether it would be a good fit for you.
Interview in a Quiet Area
Find a quiet area to conduct your interview in. When you’re separated from your interviewer by a screen, you want to ensure that you have as easy communication as possible. Having an easy time hearing them – and having a quiet enough environment that they can hear you – is important to keep the conversation flowing. It can be tricky to find a spot that’s isolated from all sounds, especially if you live with others or are in an apartment building. But finding an area that is at least somewhat isolated from loud noises should be a priority.
Know Your Way Around Zoom
Not every business or professional uses Zoom, despite some classical thinking. If you aren’t familiar with the program, it’s not strange, but don’t expect it to be like every other virtual meeting software right out of the gate.
You’ll want to download Zoom early and take the chance to familiarize yourself with it, well before your interview. It’s a small step that can help you avoid slowing things down during your interview phase. You don’t want to be stuck trying to buy time while you figure out how to put on a background filter to hide a less-than-clean room in your background, after all. You can avoid such scenarios by doing a bit of groundwork before your interview is on the horizon.
Your interviewer may be patient if you’re lucky, but you still don’t want to come off as inefficient before you’ve even had a chance to introduce yourself. Fifteen minutes of learning basic Zoom functions will save you from this trouble. Just do it.
People often feel that Zoom interviews are less formal than traditional in-person interviews, but this is simply not true. Candidates should treat a Zoom interview as any other interview by dressing professionally and grooming themselves before logging on. This will help you get into the right mindset and help you be more prepared for the interview while also helping to make a good impression on the interviewer. Overall, a Zoom interview is still an interview and should be seen as such – look professional and carry yourself with confidence so that your interviewers know you are taking this seriously.
Exude Confidence by being Well Prepared and Knowledgable
Remember, no matter if it’s a video or in-person interview, confidence is key and I think personally the #1 way to exude that confidence is having knowledge.
Research the role, investigate the industry, major players, products/offerings/services, and news. Learn the terminology and respective process impact in this new role. Understand the function your new role would play in the entire operation. Why is there an opening? What pain points do the hiring managers have because of the opening? How can you make their lives easier if they hire you?
Understand not only the achievements and accomplishments you can bring into the new role (and ensure to tie these into nice little quick narratives whether it’s shown through a project, success story, etc.), but most importantly, what value do you offer?
If you are equipped with this knowledge, the interview should be a piece of cake. They want you to be the one!
Speak Clearly and Loudly
One key tip I always give is to make sure you speak clearly and loudly. It’s so important to enunciate your words and project your voice. Trust me, it makes a huge difference for the interviewer to be able to hear you well and understand your responses.
So, before your interview, take a moment to practice speaking in a way that your interviewer can hear and understand easily. And don’t forget to test your microphone and internet connection to make sure you have the best audio quality possible. It’s all about making a good impression and communicating effectively, and speaking clearly is a key part of that.
Always Prepare for the Unexpected
What many of us had to learn the hard way during the COVID-19 pandemic is that technology and the user (AKA us) sometimes do not play well together.
So my advice is to give yourself enough time prior to the interview to work out any kinks that may occur. Unstable internet connection? Try using a personal hotspot. Do you frequently forget to put your microphone or sound on the proper setting? Create a personalized production checklist.
All in all, give yourself at least a 15-30 minute time window prior to your interview and you can master preparing for the unexpected!
Practice Your Answers
The Zoom interview is more than just a conversation; it’s also an opportunity for you to showcase your best self. To make sure you do that, it’s important to prepare so that you feel confident, comfortable, and in control of the interview.
One of the most important things you can do is to practice your answers to common interview questions. By taking some time to think through your responses and rehearse them, you’ll be able to give clear, concise answers that show off your skills and experience. In addition, it’s important to be prepared for the technical aspects of the Zoom interview. Make sure you have a good internet connection, and that you have tested the Zoom app ahead of time.
By taking some time to prepare, you’ll be able to shine during your interview and make a great impression on your potential employer.
Turn Off Notifications
Turn off anything that could become a distraction or disrupt the interview in any way, shape, or form. Silence or turn off your phone, as well as any alerts on your computer. The last thing you’d want is for an app to open accidentally, or an obnoxiously audible notification to pop up. Close all social media websites and anything else that can hinder your focus. Set the meeting to full screen so that the only thing visible on your screen is the interviewer.
Make Sure You Are The Focus Of The Zoom Video
Interviewers hold their own preferences and ideas about professional appearance. It’s not well-defined and universally accepted. In other words, one interviewer might think everyone should use a virtual background, while another feels a blur is more professional. Bypass this by making sure you are the focus of the Zoom. Use a friend or professional colleague to join a practice Zoom session with you.
Test different backgrounds and no background to see what looks best. Experiment with the lighting you have available to ensure you can be clearly seen. Determine where you need to sit in order for your face to comfortably fill the frame and practice answering questions while looking into the camera lens.
By keeping the distraction around and behind you at a minimum, by engaging the interviewer with your eyes, and by properly framing your face in the window, you can keep the attention on you, helping the interviewer’s personal preferences take a backseat to the star of the show..you!
Practice With Someone Who Has Been Interviewed Before
Job-seekers should invest time and energy in preparing for a Zoom interview. An uncommon approach to being ready is practicing an interview with someone who has interviewed before – they can help you anticipate the questions you may be asked and provide feedback on your answers.
Working with someone experienced enables job-seekers to gain exposure to the interviewing process, hear detailed examples of how their responses might be interpreted, and receive key insights from those who have gone through it before. As a result, job-seekers can go into their next interview confident that their responses will make a strong impression on any interviewer.
Don’t Be Afraid of Small Talk in the Zoom Era
Preparing candidates for the interview process is a big part of my job, and I’ve had to adapt my approach since the pandemic. More and more interviews are occurring online these days, and that means applicants should take a few extra minutes to facilitate a connection with the interviewer.
My top tip? Make small talk. There’s an inherent distance in a Zoom meeting, and while talking about the weather in-person might make a candidate seem disinterested or distracted, a little chat at the beginning of a Zoom interview is just what’s needed to break the ice. So feel free to open with an off-topic question. It might just allow you to develop a rapport with the interviewer that lasts through the tough questions.
Frame Your Camera So You Look Up and Not Down
No one wants to be looked down upon, yet many do this. Use a high-quality external camera if you can. If you must use your laptop camera, then increase the height of the laptop (e.g., put some books underneath it). The camera should sit a little bit higher than your head. Looking slightly up makes your face appear more friendly.
Test Your Internet Connection
Do a test call to make sure everything is running smoothly. Just because you can watch YouTube videos with no lags doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t experience connection issues or lagging on Zoom. If you do run into any problems, there’s an option on the platform to adjust the sound or video quality accordingly. You should never reduce the audio quality, however, reducing the video quality could help your internet connection work to its fullest potential during the interview.
Tidy Up Your Surroundings
One of the most important things a job seeker can do to prepare for their upcoming Zoom interview is to tidy up their surroundings.
Think about the image you would like to portray to your future employer. Sometimes candidates will put all of their efforts into how they will dress and what they plan to say in their interview, but they may fail to consider what their home environment can say about them. It is the same as selling your home; if you want to sell it faster, it needs to be clean and clutter-free. Same idea here. If you want your future employer to be convinced that you are organized and ready for the task, a messy home environment can send the opposite message.
So put away that laundry, and straighten up those papers so your prospective employer can imagine you working for them.