Go beyond the conventional job or gig process, when it comes to video interviews. Online conversations need a different kind of prep in terms of the right tech set up, an appealing persona, and most of all, the right way to communicate and persuade. Explore these 21 tips to ace and impress in your virtual interview.
The basic processes of a job application remain the same. Read, apply, connect, and interview. But everything has turned virtual in recent times. And these best practices for Zoom interviews can help immensely!
While resume submissions and screening have been digital for a long time, most interviews are now on Zoom too. With more employers offering remote jobs and freelance gigs, how well you show up in the online interview can ink the job for you.
Check out our top tips that can help you succeed in a Zoom interview!
Plan your interview in 3 main components.
- Setup and practice for an online meeting
- Interact and respond effectively during the virtual interview
- Follow up and close afterward.
Even if you are experienced at job interviews, these virtual interview tips and hacks can help you stand out while applying for remote jobs. And yes, explore these pointers when you’re looking for phone interview tips too.
Setup and practice for the online interview
Like any job application, read the job description carefully and customize your resume, if needed.
Include a compelling bio summary in the application form or email cover. Do link to your portfolio in your resume or cover email, particularly if you are applying for a freelance job.
The resume and email become even more important when employers can’t meet you personally. Ensure that you have updated your online profiles – check out these tips for a strong LinkedIn Profile.
Run through your responses to the commonly asked questions for your role and type of work. Keep in mind that these tips on prep, clarity and managing communication matter in phone interviews as well.
How can you prepare for your Zoom or Skype Interview?
Work on your opening statement
In the absence of the ubiquitous physical handshake, have you given thought to your virtual handshake? As a Virtual Interview Candidate, you should practice speaking out your basic bio. Plus, answers to common questions so you are comfortable sharing your responses. Even if you have interviewed many times before, an online interview is a vastly different experience until you get used to it.
Like a regular interview, prepare for an online interview with the commonly asked questions. Here are some examples.
- Tell us about yourself
- What are you top strengths
- How have you overcome some workplace challenges
- You don’t meet several of the criteria we are looking for…
- Are you comfortable with the top business tools to collaborate and communicate online…?
Explore these Virtual Interview examples from top companies
Write your cheatsheet
A handy list of key pointers that you can refer to, is a huge plus with virtual interviews. You can write down your key numbers, specific achievements, or even phrases and names. But remember to glance quickly when you need to and sound natural when you’re sharing.
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Figure out the location, tech, and lighting
Apart from a quiet, disturbance-free spot, make sure you choose one that looks pleasing with a professional-looking setup. This not only makes you feel confident, it also shows the interviewers that you have the right infrastructure for remote work. Many pros recommend a lighter background, adding simple accessories, even a plant or two.
Ensure that you have the right device and internet setup – technology snafus will reflect poorly on you. It also tells potential hirers that you might have issues with tech and hence working remote.
Get comfortable with the basic features of Zoom, Skype or Webex beforehand.
Ensure that the lighting is just right. It should be flattering to you not too low or so bright that it starts to blind you after a while. Invest in a small clip-on light for your laptop that casts soft ambient light on your face. Similarly, if you’re next to a window, make sure your face isn’t in half light and shadow.
A light behind you is a strong no-no! No interviewer wants to be blinded by the glare and a lot of hirers say that it’s their no.1 pet peeve.
Find expert Career Advice for Jobs, Interviews & Workplace Success on Pinterest!
Manage appearance and body language
Place your camera at eye level or just a little higher. This is usually the most flattering angle.
More pro tips on camera to showcase your best look in a virtual meeting.
Dress the part
Focus on dressing in a tasteful, employer-friendly attire. Look up the company website to get a sense of the dress code. But err on the formal side and dress one level up. Go with a good fit, clean lines, and simple accessories. Avoid colors that are too light – they wash out your skin tone; or overly bright ones that take away attention from you.
Ensure that you choose something that you’re comfortable in when you’re sitting down for an hour. So set aside that flattering blazer that’s super snug and go for a well-cut top that complements your coloring.
More ideas on what to wear for your video interview.
Record yourself on video
A key online interview tip is to do a dry run using the same device and setting that you plan to use for the interview. That way you can get a sense of how you look and sound, as well as your postures and expressions. A recording will tell you what you should fix, say if you grimaced many times or maybe you were slouching too much. Plus it often gives you an idea of the camera angle that suits you best.
Show it to a friend or family member, if you can.
Make sure you have a good picture as your Zoom or Skype id (instead of your dog’s :-). Ditto for your name – include both your first and last names.
Prep if you’re screen sharing
If you are presenting during a Zoom interview, prepare your content well by making sure that it’s visually appealing and easy to read. Rehearse what you will say and anticipate the questions. Remember to position your cursor to the start of the document.
Be punctual and relaxed
On the appointed day and time, settle in preferably before time, so you are relaxed and prepared to talk, instead of scrambling at the last minute. How early should you join a Zoom Interview? Load and set up about 10-15 minutes earlier (even if you have to wait for the host) since Zoom or Webex can take time to load.
A few deep breaths and belly laughs before you start can work wonders.
Interact and respond effectively on video
Stay distraction free
Shut down other apps which might cause you loss of attention or cause annoying notification pings. Sometimes multiple issues can also impact the bandwidth of video conferencing apps like Zoom.
It is a lot harder to keep attention in a virtual interview. When you’re speaking, keep your responses to a moderate length. You don’t want to sound abrupt but nor should you ramble endlessly – this is also good interview etiquette. Make sure you close your response clearly so that the listener knows that you have finished.
Empower yourself! Find out the 10 skills in communication for online work.
Check out these tips to engage successfully in any Zoom interview
- Write down the names so you can personalize responses
- Speak in shorter sentences.
- When struggling for words, pause strategically (instead of using fillers like um or ‘you know.’)
- When in doubt, clarify a question rather than respond instantly. Did you mean…?
- Keep it interactive. Since you can’t see the body language or the communication between a group of interviewers, ask ‘continuity questions’ to keep the conversation going. E.g. Does this make sense to you? Or, I hope I understood this right…
How to wow them Online!
You cannot smile enough, more so in a virtual interview. A positive attitude is a prerequisite in most jobs and this will help for sure. Use humor as an icebreaker and to showcase your positive personality.
Animate with facial expressions
In the absence of body language to communicate your message, make sure your face emotes well and often. This projects confidence and shows that you are engaged and enthusiastic.
Slow down (a little)
In the absence of body language, your words need a little more time to get through and be effective. So slowing down helps your listener grasp things better. Plus, it also helps when there is a loss in transmission.
Keep eye contact
As far as possible, keep your eyes on the camera lens as well as the on-screen images of the participants. This keeps the contact more personal.
Prepare for lack of eye contact too
Talking to a camera can be disconcerting. Keep in mind that the interviewer may be taking notes, so you might feel like you’re talking to your own computer.
Plan for delays and pauses
Similarly, make sure that the other person has finished their question before you leap to respond. Time lags are a challenge in video interviews so avoid talking over each other.
Demonstrate your skills with your narrative
While most interviewers will ask you questions about your experience and abilities related to functional skills, soft skills are harder to show online. Make sure you thread them in the narrative. Have incidents or examples to show your initiative, teamwork ethic or communication abilities. In particular, you need to show that you are comfortable with working in a remote setting.
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Close and follow up after the virtual interview
Prepare for future interviews
Identify a few dates that work for you and keep them handy, in case the interviewers want another online meeting.
End it right
Ensure that you close on a positive note. Offer to send any additional info they might need. Remember to thank the interviewers and acknowledge their understanding, if there were glitches at your end.
Keep in touch
Send a thank you email and offer to answer any questions that they might not have covered. Be quick and responsive to questions or communication from the company’s end.
Remote jobs are here to stay. As companies, startups and businesses hire for different roles, your ability to communicate and impress online will make a significant difference. When you practice and prepare for an online interview, you will be more effective in showing them why they should hire you.
Zoom up, Camera, Action!
Pooja Krishna is an Entrepreneur, Business Mentor and Mom. She has worked both in large corporates and managed startups over the last 20+ years.
She’s a co-founder at Maroon Oak, and is founded Win Thinks, where she writes, speaks and teaches about Digital Media, Brand Building and Future Ready Businesses. A day trader for over a decade, Pooja launched Trading Paces to educate amateur and pro stock traders. As a classroom mentor, Pooja loves teaching students across the U.S. about job skills and entrepreneurship. Read about her on Huffington Post and Forbes.
A trivia buff and yoga & hula hoop enthusiast, she’s discovering the pleasure of drawing Zentangle patterns for ‘creative mindfulness.’