Zoom interviews skyrocketed during the pandemic. And much like remote working, home workouts, and staycations, they are now firmly rooted in the way we live.
According to StandOut CV, the number of employers conducting video interviews jumped from 22% pre-pandemic to 79% in the height of the pandemic. By 2022, long after the last lockdown had ended and in-person interviews could take place again, an enormous 69% of employers continued to carry out interviews via video call.
So with video interviews entrenched as the new norm, how do you stand out in a Zoom interview? We've worked with Robbie Blue, Head of People at Filestage, to compile a list of 14 Zoom interview tips to help you land the job, ranging from preparing for a Zoom interview and how to present yourself to the nitty-gritty technical details and the importance of following up.
Keep reading for tips to help you ace your next Zoom interview!
While the purpose of Zoom and in-person interviews is ultimately the same, there are some significant differences, as Robbie explains:
"Zoom interviews save time for all involved - but this also means that the interviewer will have the opportunity to interview more candidates than they might do in person." Ergo, they're often more competitive.
"You're also on 'neutral' territory as you're not in the company HQ or office, and although you will be able to read some, you won't have the same body language experience as in person."
Going into the Zoom interview prepared and ready to make a great impression will up your chances of success. Your starting point? These top tips...
1. Download, test, and start Zoom in advance
First things first, make sure you have Zoom downloaded (and updated) on your computer. The last thing you want is to be sitting there panicking while you wait for the software to download or update. If you haven't used Zoom recently, it's a good idea to have a test call with a friend or family member to make sure it's all working. Then a few minutes before the call is due to start, get it all booted up and ready to go.
2. Do your prep
When it comes to preparing for a Zoom interview, you should treat it as you would any other interview. Research the organization, the role, the interviewers, and brush up on the latest industry news to show that you know your stuff.
Robbie says: "One of the benefits of being on Zoom is you can have a few notes or place cards in front of you. But make sure you do this discreetly and as a reminder; the last thing you want to do is give the impression you're reading pre-prepared answers or a script!"
3. Pick a professional-looking background
A professional Zoom background is clean, tidy, and free from clutter. If you've managed to curate the perfect Zoom background, complete with an organized bookshelf and a well-maintained house plant, then you're in business. If not, or if you're not in your usual workspace, then it's best to blur your background.
4. Find a quiet spot with good lighting
Find a quiet spot (away from footfall and noisy traffic) with good lighting so that the interviewer can hear and see you clearly. The perfect spot is facing a big window that lets in lots of natural light (but not too much noise!). Make sure you don't set up with a window behind you, as this can leave you with shadows cast across your face, or you could appear fully silhouetted.
If the sun is likely to set over the course of your interview, then make sure you've got a light turned on already so that you're not suddenly plunged into darkness. And if natural light isn't an option, then play around with lamps to make sure your face is well lit.
5. Test your tech
There's nothing worse (for you, or your interviewer), than being faced with tech issues. Nip them in the bud by checking your camera and your audio ahead of time, and make sure your laptop is fully charged or plugged in so that it doesn't die on you. "Organization and a good set-up is the best way to give a good impression! Show you are comfortable on camera in a professional environment," says Robbie.
6. Minimize distractions from housemates
An unfortunate 15% of candidates have had a video interview interrupted by someone they live with. And while most interviewers will understand that distractions and interruptions are part and parcel of remote working, do your best to ensure you're left distraction-free and uninterrupted for the duration of your Zoom interview, whether you share your home with flatmates, a partner, kids, or pets.
That said, if you are interrupted by a pet: "Don't panic and throw your pet to the ground if they jump up on your lap or desk during the call! You're more likely to leave a bad impression by throwing your cat across the room than by just laughing off the situation," says Robbie.
7. Turn off notifications and put your phone on silent
While kids and pets tend to be the biggest culprits when it comes to distractions, notifications on your phone, smartwatch, or computer can be just as distracting. It's good Zoom interview etiquette to turn off notifications and silence your phone. Make the most of "do not disturb" or "focus" modes on your devices to keep them quiet.
8. Clear all other tabs and windows
When sitting at your computer, it can be tempting to keep useful tabs open for you to refer to during the interview. But this is an absolute no no, as it's rarely as subtle as you think!
Robbie says: "Clear your other tabs and windows before the interview, and don't do any other tasks while you're being interviewed, as this might suggest you're easily distracted or not engaged. This is especially important if you wear glasses! There's nothing worse than when you ask a question about the role and can see your company's career page or the job description on the candidate's glasses reflection!"
9. Dress for the job
You may not be going into the office for your interview, but you should still dress the part. Find out the company's dress code and dress accordingly. If you're unsure of the dress code, take a look at their website to see what people are wearing in their photos - the About Us page is usually a good starting point.
10. Look into the camera to make eye contact
Eye contact is a sign of confidence and respect, and while it's not quite so easy to do online, it's still possible. How? During the interview, look directly into the camera (rather than at the interviewer or yourself). It might feel a bit unnatural, but this gives the impression of eye contact, which will show the interviewer that you're confident and fully engaged.
11. Be mindful of your body language
For the duration of the interview, sit up straight with both your feet planted firmly on the floor. Feel free to use your hands to express yourself, but don't go overboard! As well as making eye contact, Robbie urges you to show your reactions by smiling, nodding, laughing, and looking deep in thought. Since your face is the main focus, it's the main way the interviewer will judge your body language.
12. Speak clearly
When you're nervous, it's easy to rush what you're saying. But speaking clearly, at a normal pace, is particularly important during a Zoom interview, when technology and background noise can make it harder for the interviewer to hear what you're saying. Be calm and confident, and notice if you start to speed up or mumble.
13. Ask questions to show you're engaged
"Always ask a couple of questions! As specific as possible is great as it shows you've done your research and you are genuinely interested in the role," says Robbie.
If it works with the flow of the interview, you can ask questions throughout. Otherwise, a structured Zoom interview will generally have around five minutes at the end for you to ask questions.
"Timekeeping will generally be stricter in a Zoom interview, as a recruiter or interviewer might be doing various interviews back to back. If you realize you're approaching the end time and haven't had the chance to ask any questions, you should feel free to ask a question or two."
14. Follow up with a thank you email
Once the interview is done and dusted, you're left with the conundrum of following up. If you do, will you seem pushy? If you don't, will you look disinterested?
Robbie's advice? "A quick email to say thanks and that you're looking forward to feedback and hopefully continuing in the process is a great way to confirm your motivation and interest in the role, and is appreciated."
So if in doubt, follow up.
Flip all of the above points on their head and you've got a pretty detailed list of what not to do in a Zoom interview! Robbie's top tip? "It goes without saying but don't be too casual, remember that it's an interview! Drinking a beer or smoking a cigarette during the call is not advisable, and I have seen these before!"
"There isn't too much difference between a group and a one-to-one Zoom interview. Just remember to acknowledge all participants, and not to over dominate the conversation - there are plenty of people who'll want to speak and ask questions, and they will give you a chance to answer!"
Keep all of these tips in mind before, during, and after your next Zoom interview, and you'll be sure to stand out, make a great first impression, and progress to the next stage in the hiring process.
Written By Katie Garrett