Video interview can never replace the in-person interview, regardless of how advanced the technology has become. Most hiring managers and recruiters are looking forward to the end of the pandemic, when they can finally return to their routines, meet job seekers face to face, and hear, feel, and sense things you just cannot sense while looking at a computer screen instead of a real person sitting in front of you.

Until that day comes (and who knows when it will), however, we all have to get used to interviewing on Zoom, a tool that has surprisingly beaten Skype and other major competitors, and is the no. 1 tool for video interviews in both US and Europe (at the moment of writing this post). Now we will have a look at some tips and tricks that should help you get the most of your Zoom interview. Let’s get right to the point!


Get familiar with the technology, do a test call

For most people a video interview is their first experience with Zoom. But you should not expect the hiring managers to tolerate you struggling with the interface for the first ten minutes. Job seekers who care about an interview will always prepare in advance, and Zoom interview is no exception.

Download the program, play around with the interface, and watch some tutorials. Do your homework!

Do not rely on the fact that you are tech savvy, or had countless calls on Skype before. Each program has a different interface, and if you have a firewall set up on your computer, or some pesky antivirus, it may take some time until you make Zoom working, with all features. Hence it is important to test things in advance, and Zoom allows an option to join a test meeting here.


Join just in time–not earlier

It’s a common practice to come to a face to face interview fifteen minutes earlier. And it makes sense, because you never know if you don’t get stuck in a traffic jam, or struggle with finding the location, or get a delay for any other reason.

When you arrive early there’s always a secretary to greet you, offer you a cup of coffee, and ask you to patiently wait until your time arrives. So you do not really disturb anyone with your early arrival.

Things work differently on Zoom. Hiring managers can use the same virtual meeting room for more applicants, so if you join earlier (and if they didn’t set the rules for the room properly, and anyone can join at any time, which happens often because just like the technology is new for you it is new for them), you may join while they are still interviewing someone else. As you can imagine it is an occurred situation.

Hence you should join not earlier than two or three minutes before the planned start of your interview. And if it happens that someone else is still in the room, send a short chat message asking when you should eventually join. Just like with face to face interviews, they can have some delays…


Keep eye contact–but with the top of your screen–with the webcam

If you look your interviewers in the eyes (as you see them on your computer screen), you are actually looking downwards on their end. 95% of computers have the webcam on the top of the screen, and that’s the place where you should look while interviewing for a job on Zoom. See the position below:

illustration of an optimal eye-contact point during the Zoom interview

It is also important to keep your screen upright, in the 90 degree angle, or close to 90 degrees. Most people prefer to have the screen turned slightly backwards while working, making for a 100 degrees of 110 degrees angle.

If you overdo it while interviewing on Zoom, however, you’ll look really strange on the end of the hiring managers… Keep the screen straight and your face will look straight as well!

Avoid using smart phone–unless you do not have another option

Look, job interview is not a call with your boyfriend. You should have both hands free, the screen should not move while you are talking. And you should sit on a normal chair in front of a table, and not relax on bed or do something similar.

Interviewing on smart phone is highly unprofessional, and you should avoid it at all costs. If you do not have a computer, visit an internet cafe, ask for a quiet place in the corner of the room, and do your interview there (of course arrive in advance to ensure they have Zoom installed or to install it for you).

If you have no other option, and have to interview on your smartphone, I suggest you to explain it and apologize for it at the start of the interview. Quality of audio and video on the phone is never that good (especially the sound quality), but you should try to make the best out of it. External microphone and good positioning can help to at least somehow improve the quality of the call. Again, you should test this and experiment before the start of the actual interview.


No dirty socks on the floor, no naked pictures on the walls

Interviewers observe a lot of things while talking to you. When meeting you face to face, they watch mostly your non-verbal communications. Do you do any movements with your hands? Do you shake? How long do you think about your answers, and do your eyes wander, suggesting that you are just making something up, not telling them the entire truth?

They cannot observe most of these things while talking to you in a virtual meeting room on Zoom, or at least not precisely. So they observe other stuff. For example, what’s in your background.

As you can imagine, a whiteboard with some diagrams, or a to-do list, makes a better impression than a poster of a heavy-metal band, or of a beautiful girl/guy wearing nothing, or almost nothing. Generally the less they see on their screen the better. Make sure that they aren’t distracted by something they see on the screen. And the way your room looks also tells something about you.

Even some professional YouTubers did not get this one right, and I hope you won’t make the same mistake…

Avoid any distractions

Regardless of the form of your interview, you should always try to make an impression that the meeting is super important to you. This is easier to do when you interview in a corporation, where everything is nicely set-up, and distractions are eliminated by the interviewers.

Things change on a video interview. Here you are at home, with everything that belongs to it:

  • A dog barking from the next room, waiting for the regular afternoon walk.
  • Your neighbors having yet another loud argument about some pointless stuff.
  • Someone renovating their bathroom, drilling holes into the concrete, making the entire building shake.
  • Your drank roommate returning home in the middle of your interview.
  • Notifications popping up on your screen, from Facebook and news websites you watch.
  • ….

It’s important to eliminate all distractions. Everyone living with you should know that you are interviewing for a job at a certain time. Ask them to be quiet, or give them some pocket change and send them to a cafeteria while you take care of your business…. If they like you they should obey. And if they do not, or cannot, go somewhere else, to a quiet place, to have your Zoom interview.


Test your internet connection

I know that we live in 21st century and you say that internet speed is not an issue. However, you should know that Zoom is very demanding when it comes to resources. The fact that you can watch YT videos or do a Skype calls without any lags does not necessarily mean that you won’t experience connectivity issues or lagging on Zoom.

Do a test call, and ensure that everything is fast and smooth. There is an option to adjust the sound or video quality in Zoom, and you should play with it if you experience any problems. Of course you should reduce the video quality, not the audio…


Treat your Zoom interview like you’d treat a normal face to face interview

At the end of the day, form and place does not matter that much. Zoom interview is still an interview, and you should do the same things you’d do while meeting the hiring managers on their playground:

  • Prepare for the interview questions you may face.
  • Do an extensive research about your future employer, their goals and values, the role you’ll have in the company, and so on.
  • Put on the right attire, fitting for the occasion and for the job you try to get with the company.
  • Try to get rid of stress, and show some enthusiasm while talking to the hiring managers.

Zoom interview is not a rocket science. If you follow the advice from this article and prepare for the questions you may face, I am sure you’ll do well, and succeed. Good luck!


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Matthew Chulaw
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