The Zoom Interview: tips and pitfalls

As with any interview, you need to prepare for it. And to do that, you need to set aside time to focus on several steps you need to take before you find yourself in front of a prospective employer.

General interview tips

  • Make sure you have all the necessary documents and contact details to hand that the interviewer is going to require. Don’t fumble about looking for bits of paper and information because then you are going to appear inefficient. Make a flip file of everything, and put documents in an order that is quickly retrievable.
  • Ensure your CV is fully accounted for, and there are no gaps in your working history you are reluctant to explain. Every qualification must be easily verifiable with the necessary contact details.
  • Run through what you are going to say beforehand. Make sure you know what you want to put across and practice your presentation so that it becomes smooth and clear and succinct.
  • Be ready to ask questions about the job. Jot some of these down beforehand as well, but be ready and flexible to query anything you are interested in or not sure about as the interview progresses. Asking questions not only makes your look prepared, but also gives you more information to make an informed decision.
  • You can be certain you will be asked about previous challenges and how you have dealt with them, so run your mind around high points of your working experience. Think of the nuggets, the real-life stories from your work history where you faced a challenge and had to do something smart or unusual to solve it.
  • Don’t complain about your previous company or aspects of your job that you did not like. Rather talk about the value you can add to the company.
  • Attitude is of enormous importance. You need to show vitality, enthusiasm, positivity and an agile mind. If you appear like an awkward person or disinterested in your career, you will leave a bad impression.
  • Research the company properly before applying for the job. Don’t just apply blindly to many jobs at once. Be sure that you understand their vision and mission, company culture, products and services. Showing that you have researched their company, its past and future plans, will see you warmly received!


The Zoom Interview

While all the above is important for a face-to-face interview, the advice is basic for the Zoom interview as well. However, the Zoom interview carries a few more concerns that must be considered. First of all, you are not sitting in the interviewer’s office, but in your own home – or even a coffee shop. So background, environmental aspects and noise factors are important.

  • Obviously when attending an interview in an office, you are going to dress smartly. But sometimes people forget that you need to do the same when you set up for a Zoom interview. Plan what to wear and ensure you look neat and highly presentable. You want to appear professional and polished.
  • You will need to avoid dull colours, but in the same instance also avoid stripes and dots, and wild patterns. Too much jewellery can also be off-putting, flashing and glittering on screen can be distracting. Make a careful selection of clothing and accessories well before time.
  • Ensure your computer is functioning properly. Nothing worse than having breakdowns in the middle of an interview! Ensure lighting is good, no glare anywhere, and that your understanding of how Zoom works is up to date. Ensure that you have a stable internet connection.
  • Download the app to your phone or desktop ahead of time. If you’ve never used Zoom before, familiarise yourself with the quick start-up guide for new users. Upload a professional-looking headshot and add your full name to your profile. Both will appear when you join the call for your interview and you want to lead with a good impression.
  • Practice speaking to the camera. This is an important point to get right; keep facing the camera and try to keep a direct look. Remember, you will want to look into the camera lens while talking, and not the screen.
  • Test your sound efficiency. Use headphones if necessary to hear clearly and to block outside noise. Turn off notifications and put your phone on silent mode. If you are using a phone, prop your phone up so that you are clearly seen. Use a phone stand if you have one.
  • Make sure you choose a good background, without clutter or too much colour and furniture. Check how much will appear in your frame. You may consider using a virtual backgroundif you want to conceal areas of the room you’re in. If you choose to do so, make sure that you use a professional background and test it out beforehand.
  • Be mindful of your facial expressions and body language. These aspects are far more accentuated on screen than if you were conducting a physical interview. Make sure you appear alert, engaged, and professional.
  • Speak clearly and slowly. You don’t know what audio issues may creep in – especially on the interviewer’s side, so be mindful of speaking with clarity and proper enunciation. Don’t expect the interviewer to ask you to repeat yourself.
  • Don’t fidget. Remember that every movement can be picked up and amplified on screen. In a physical environment, this may not be so noticeable, but an online situation can become more acute. Be confident, positive and decisive.
  • Once the interview is over, and before you hang up, pause for a few seconds to ensure that you have fully left the call and that your microphone and camera are off.
  • Send a follow-up email to say thank you. The purpose is to further communicate your interest in the position and set yourself apart from other candidates.

 A point to remember: A Zoom interview is like any other: the employer is looking for a personable candidate who can clearly articulate their ability to get the job done. A video interview is still a face-to-face interview.




May 13, 2021 | Vuk’uzenzele

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