The world of work may have completely changed since the arrival of Covid-19 and it may feel like everything is on hold, but it’s not. Organisations are still hiring, employers are still interviewing, it’s just different now.
Everyone has had to learn to adapt and pivot in the new world of work and online platforms such as Zoom are playing a major role in the way we communicate.
So, if you are looking for work it is highly likely you will be interviewed via a web-based platform like Zoom. So, what things do you need to consider if you’re going to be interviewed online?
Here are my top tips for making the most of interviewing online:
Know how to use the tech!
If you have not used online platforms like Zoom before, don’t leave it to the last minute to work it all out. Get to know how to use it. Practice by getting other people to call you so you can play around with it.
Zoom has some great and free online tutorials on their website so take full advantage of these and watch them. Learn how to change the views if you have more than one interviewer, so you can see everyone at the same time. Understand how to share screens, write comments and test the audio. You don’t want to start the interview not being able to turn your camera on or start chatting away when you’re on mute! Knowing how it all works means that’s one less thing you don’t need to stress about.
Make sure your battery is fully charged, you’ve got a good signal and your webcam lens is clean and clear so you don’t look all fuzzy!
Zoom will also show you the name of your interviewers in their online windows, so you don’t have to try to remember their names. This is a great opportunity for you to weave their names in to your replies during the interview. People love it when you refer to them by name, so take full advantage of that!
Just like any interview, make sure you have done all the right preparation. Make sure you know your CV inside and out and can back up everything up with tangible and quantifiable evidence.
Make sure you have done your homework on the organisation and the job description because they are definitely going to ask you what you know about them and your expectations of the role.
Unlike a tradition face to face interview, you can have your CV, the company website and the job description open on your computer screen when you’re online.
Do some deep breathing exercises before the start, to calm yourself and fill your lungs and body with oxygen and energy.
Circle your arms, shoulders, head and neck to release any tension.
Have a glass of water to drink. Avoid caffeine completely as combined with your adrenalin this will just give you a massive caffeine high followed quickly by a big caffeine low. This will cause you to lose focus, sweat and have a dry mouth.
Be ready in plenty of time and just give yourself at least 10 minutes of quiet calm before you join the call. If you are used to meditating, this can be a great way to focus and get yourself in to the right frame of mind.
Get Creative with Visual Clues
You don’t want to be looking all over your screen searching for answers, as lots of odd eye movements and body language will not look great for your audience.
A great tip is to stick up static flip chart paper on the wall directly in front of you, or put post-it notes around the outside of your screen. This way you can look ahead or at your screen and see all your cues and notes without the interviewer knowing you have them there.
Set the Scene
Lighting is key! If you have a window or light directly behind you, it will cast a shadow on your face making it difficult for your audience to see you. Sit facing the light and consider getting a table lamp and putting it in front of your laptop to light up your face evenly. Don’t leave it to the last minute to set this up, practice it the day before so you can get it just right.
Remember, you are sharing your personal space with your audience. What can they see? What first impressions will they take from your environment and personal space? Make sure it’s tidy and consider what they’re looking at. A blank background can be safe, but could also be a bit boring. Do you have a bookshelf you can feature in the background, or some nice flowers perhaps? Keep it simple and don’t over complicate your background so it becomes a distraction. Play around with it, perhaps move things about a bit to create the best impression. If you are in a situation whereby you can’t improve your background you do have the option to introduce a virtual background. However, I would advice avoiding this if you can.
Make sure no one else enters your interview room while you’re online, so if you have children, flat mates, pets or all three, you need to make sure they’re not accidently included!
Check where your webcam is and make sure it’s at eye level. There is nothing worse for your audience than having to look up your nose! Having the camera too low is really unflattering and will cast shadows where you don’t want them. So, elevate your laptop on something sturdy so you can sit up straight and look directly at the camera.
The most challenging part of communicating through a camera is we want to talk to the people and their image, not the camera. Remember where the camera is and wherever possible talk to the camera so your audience gets direct eye contact from you. This will feel weird and whilst you will need to look at your audience to gauge their body language and facial expressions, when talking to them, try to look at the camera as much as you can.
Dress as if you were in a face to face interview. Yes, we all know they can only see your top half; however, some interviewers have asked candidates to stand up at the end of the interview ..… so, don’t be that person who’s wearing a smart shirt and their PJs (or less!!) underneath. And yes, it has happened!!
Ladies, be just a little bit brighter with your makeup than usual as Zoom doesn’t really flatter skin tone. A little bit more blusher, a brighter lipstick and some concealer to brighten under the eyes can really help!
There is even a setting in Zoom to ‘improve appearance’!
Don’t wear clothes with lots of shapes and patterns as this doesn’t look good on line either, so keep it simple. However, if your background is a white wall, don’t wear a white top/shirt as you’ll just blend in. Wear some colour!
Avoid lots of jewellery or accessories. Bangles for example may look great, but they really jangle and make a lot of unwanted noise for your audience. You may not hear it, but they will and it will become distracting and annoying.
Be very aware of your facial expressions and body language, as these are all going to be really accentuated and exaggerated when everything is compacted in to a small window frame. For example, your concentrating, thinking face may come across very differently to your audience who may just see frowning and lots of random eye movement.
Avoid fiddling with your hair, scratching your face, chewing your lip and so on. Smile more, relax and just breathe!
Avoid sitting right in front of the screen. Sit away from it so they can see more of you and your positive body language. If you appear relaxed (even if you’re not) this will help you to feel relaxed as the interview progresses and will give a positive and confident impression to your audience. They don’t want to be looking at a startled rabbit in the headlights.
Finally, remember, this is most likely a completely new experience for them too and they may also be feeling rather unsettled
Ending the call
It’s interesting to see how many people using Zoom with their work colleagues, wave when they say goodbye at the of a meeting! When has anyone left a face to face meeting and waved goodbye? Ending an interview using Zoom may feel a bit awkward, but don’t wave! Make sure you are clear about what the next stage is. If you’re not sure, ask. Then politely thank them for their time and click on ‘End Meeting’ and make sure everything is closed and shut down. You don’t want to walk away thinking it’s over and they’re still there, listening to everything you say and watching everything you do. I recently watched this video on social media when this happened at the end of a team meeting and whilst it’s absolutely hilarious to watch, it definitely wasn’t good – for all parties!
Need some more help?
If you would like some further support with interview techniques or career guidance, get in touch.
All the best, keep safe and well!