If you are in the midst of a job hunt right now, chances are you have done more than your fair share of remote interviews. While preliminary phone and virtual interviews have been a step in the modern job search process for years, restrictions surrounding COVID-19 introduced a new normal to the interview process: Zoom interviews.

Zoom, one of the leading free video conferencing software, gained mass popularity earlier this year when the COVID-19 pandemic kept us all inside and left to socialize safely through use of remote communication tools. The Meeting Owl Pro is an official Recommended Hardware Partner of Zoom and Zoom's only recommended 360-degree camera. 

The first secret to Zoom interview success is to treat it as any other job interview. For the rest of the Zoom interview best practices, here is a crash course in Zoom Interviews 101.

How early should you be for a Zoom interview?

There are many different opinions on how early is appropriate to show up for an in-person interview: some say 40 minutes in advance, others say it is best to be 20 minutes early, personally I am a fan of arriving in the vicinity of my interview half an hour in advance and then entering the interviewer’s office 15 minutes before the start of the interview. 

However, when it comes to arriving early for Zoom interviews, the commonly held belief is to log into your Zoom meeting at least 10 minutes before the scheduled start of the interview. This way, when your interviewer is ready to start the meeting they don’t have to wait for you to join.

In the 30 minutes before your scheduled Zoom interview, take a moment to check your internet connection and audio on your computer. Then, follow the meeting link provided by the hiring manager and sign in to your Zoom account. Once you are in the Zoom meeting waiting room and being prompted to sit tight until the meeting host begins your interview, center yourself by taking a few focused breaths and going over your interview notes. 

When your interviewer begins the Zoom meeting, you’ll be more than prepared to dazzle them with your punctuality and preparedness.

How do I prepare for a virtual interview?

Just because you are interviewing over Zoom doesn’t mean you should be preparing any less. Instead, virtual interviews require a level of preparation not necessary for in-person interviews. Primarily, when you participate in a virtual interview you are responsible for creating the environment for the interview, because rather than it taking place completely in one office it is taking place in two.

As you prepare for your upcoming Zoom interview, follow this checklist to ensure you are adding to the virtual interview environment, and not retracting from it:

  • Choose a professional background for yourself such as a bookshelf, blank wall, or one of these free Zoom virtual backgrounds
  • Find a brightly lit spot to interview from, such as in front of window
  • Practice looking into the camera while speaking
  • Pick a quiet space where you are unlikely to be interrupted during the interview
  • Silence your phone and any desktop notifications
  • Charge your laptop, update your computer, and run the necessary software checks to ensure you won’t run into any tech issues 
  • If you are interviewing from home, communicate with your roommates, partner, or family to prevent any interruptions or surprises during your interview
  • If you haven’t participated in a Zoom interview before, in the days leading up to your meeting practice using Zoom so you are familiar with the platform on the day of your meeting
  • Wear your most professional, Zoom friendly attire

What should I wear to a video interview?

First of all, we always recommend pants. While Zoom has audio-only capabilities, if you are sent a link to a Zoom meeting for your interview, it is a good bet that your interview will be on video. During your virtual interview preparation process, don’t overthink your outfit. Your video interview attire should be about the same as you would wear to an in-person interview. 

Depending on what industry you are interviewing in, this may vary slightly, but for the most part when choosing your Zoom interview outfit you should follow these guidelines:

  • On the parts of yourself that will be visible during your interview, wear standard business attire
  • Avoid clothing covered in small patterns so you don’t moiré (look fuzzy) on camera
  • Don’t wear large dangly earrings or loud chunky bracelets that could interfere with the audio of your interview
  • Choose a professional outfit that doesn’t distract the interviewer and instead keeps the focus on your conversation
  • Wear a solid, muted color with a minimal pattern
  • Complete your outfit by adding a dash of personality, like your favorite necklace or lucky tie clip

What is the best color to wear on a video interview?

Shirts that are solid white or black can be difficult for laptop cameras to capture, and you run the risk of looking like a head floating over a formless shape. Meanwhile, bright colors such as red, yellow, orange, or pink can make it hard for your camera to adjust exposure on your face. And an overly busy or patterned shirt can make it so other meeting attendees are distracted by your ensemble during your interview, instead of listening to why you are an excellent candidate for the position.

 

Source: Inside Out Style

For these reasons, it is best to choose muted solid colors such as these, that complement your skin tone and help you pop on camera. 

How to Schedule Zoom Interviews

To schedule a Zoom interview:

1) Open Zoom. 

2) Click Schedule. 

3) Change the Topic text to: Zoom Interview: [Position] – [initials of interview candidate as needed if multiple interviews]

4) Set the Duration for the interview. 

5) Set the Video options for both the Host and Participants to off when joining the meeting, so both parties can individually turn on their Video upon arrival. 

6) Click the Schedule button. A calendar invitation will launch in your primary email/calendar application. 

7) Simplify the meeting message to include only the Zoom meeting link and Zoom meeting ID.

8) Send the meeting invite to the interview candidate.

Video Tutorial: How to Schedule a Zoom Interview Meeting

 

5 Tips for Succeeding on a Video Interview

Succeeding in a video interview will sound and feel a lot like succeeding in an in-person interview: in both cases success looks like being offered the position. But how do you ensure video interview success? To put your best virtual foot forward during your next video interview, follow these 5 key tips.

1. Come prepared.

Your upcoming video interview will be just as rigorous as your past in-person interviews, so your preparation should reflect that. Before your interview, take the time to thoroughly research:

  • The company you are interviewing for a position at
  • The position you are interviewing for
  • The company’s industry and top competitors
  • The products and services the company provides
  • The company’s top and most recent achievements (hint: check out their social media accounts)
  • Your interviewers so you can identify them each visually, a quick Google or LinkedIn search will help shed light on who will be attending your Zoom meeting

Additionally, remember to prepare your own questions to ask of the interviewer when they turn to you.

2. Check your tech.

The biggest roadblock facing your video interview is a technical difficulty. It would be a major disruption if your microphone or webcam glitched in the middle of your virtual meeting. So, in the days leading up to your video interview be sure to familiarize yourself with the software you will using for the interview—many of the top video conferencing platforms offer free trial runs or tutorials—and test the audio settings on your microphone, the camera settings on your computer, and your internet connection so that you have a technologically seamless video interview.

Pro tip: If your Internet connection is unstable, download the Zoom app on your smartphone and use your data connection to attend the interview. Test out your framing and position your phone with your head and shoulders in the frame.

 

3. Watch your tone.

When utilizing video conferencing technology, sometimes there are audio delays between meeting attendees. To prevent an audio delay from derailing your interview, speak slowly and with clear enunciation when it is your turn to answer questions or address your interviewer. This is an easy way to ensure you are understood clearly by your interviewer. Similarly, apply this same courtesy to the other meeting attendees by maintaining focus on your interviewer and listening to them carefully. When they pause, wait a few seconds before responding so as to not unintentionally cut them off or interrupt them due to an audio delay.

 

4. Pay attention to your body language.

How you present yourself on camera during your video interview will automatically convey a lot about you to your interviewer. To present yourself as attentive and professional, maintain good posture by placing both of your feet on the ground and sitting up straight. Try to avoid slouching or gesticulating too much while you speak, big movements can be distracting during video interviews.

Additionally, remember that if you are looking at your interviewer’s face on your computer monitor then to them it will appear as though you are looking down. Instead, be sure to look into your webcam as often as possible—especially when you are speaking—to look directly at your interviewer.

 

5. Follow up.

Just like at the end of an in-person interview, it is essential to follow up after your interview. Don’t be shy, typical hiring processes take several rounds of interviewing before a candidate is offered the position, to remind your interviewer of your ongoing interest in obtaining the position at their company, follow up no later than 24 hours after your interview is completed. 

Follow up by writing a personalized thank you note to each member of the interviewing committee. If a handwritten note isn’t your style, following up via email is far better than not following up at all. It’s also good practice to add the team on LinkedIn with a thoughtful thank you note in your request.

 

Zoom Interview Tips

For extra video interview preparation, here are some additional tips and tricks to help you nail your next Zoom interview:

  • Practice for your interview by recording yourself on video and playing it back to check your audio and video quality and speaking pace.
  • Treat your Zoom interview like an in-person interview in terms of preparation and state of mind.
  • Be yourself! Don’t let technology get in the way of showing your interviewer what makes you a unique asset to their team.
  • Wear pants. While pajama pants on the bottom, business attire on top might work for remote meetings at your current company, if you have to stand up for any reason during your interview you want to be appropriately dressed all the way to your feet.
  • Zoom interviews may be recorded and shown to other members of the hiring committee, don’t say anything during your video meeting that you wouldn’t want other members of the organization to hear.
  • Familiarize yourself with the mute button in case a loud noise like your dog barking or a garbage truck beeping occurs when your interviewer is speaking.
  • Set your Zoom name to your formal name. 
  • Set your camera at eye level so you don’t need to slouch to make eye contact with your interviewer.
  • Wear earbuds during your interview to ensure your voice can be heard clearly by the interviewer and likewise, you don’t miss a word they say.

Good luck for your next virtual interview! And if you are new to this video conferencing platform, here is everything you need to know about using Zoom.

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