After unsuccessfully responding to job listings on LinkedIn and Indeed.com for five weeks, I finally received a request to interview. When I asked, “Where do I come?” I learned I’d be interviewed via Zoom.
I’ve had bad experiences with Zoom. For some reason, they have my name misspelled; I’ve tried but haven’t been able to fix this. I can’t even get into my Zoom account; my password’s at my former office and Zoom insists on sending the password reset to my former, extinct email.
And I find it distracting looking at my face when I’m speaking. My brother-in-law promises to help me fix the name thing, but I’m even more panicked about the interview itself. I need this job and need to know how to score on this interview.
Here’s the secret: get over the sense you’re on camera. Although Zoom is the medium, your interview is a conversation with a real person. From the moment the interview starts, focus on the interviewer and talk with the interviewer as you would a person. If you can, relate to the interviewers as you would to someone you instinctively like. If you can manage this, your interviewer may in return feel she or he is connecting with a real person who’s likeable, and simply interviewee #5.
Next, you can prepare for a video interview like you would any other job interview. Read the prospective employer’s website, imagine the questions you might be asked, and practice answering them. You can even have notes on the desk in front of you. Because you’ll be sitting and on camera, conduct your practice sitting in front of a mirror so you can see and hear how you come across.
Your interviewer will send you a Zoom link and they’ll spell your name correctly. Beforehand, sign up for a fresh Zoom account and practice using it. Make sure your mic is correctly configured and test your computer’s video and audio connections. If your home reception is spotty, position your computer near your router. If you have two monitors, place your camera on the screen on which the Zoom invitation will arrive.
Arrange a good backdrop behind you, either a blank wall or a clean workspace. Check your lighting; natural side window light works better than overhead, florescent lighting or a light source directly behind you.
Before the interview, load your resume, portfolio or other documents you might want to share with your interviewer in an easily accessed, minimized window, and close all the other tabs on your computer. Mute your cell phone, and arrange with others in your home to give you a distraction-free environment.
For the same reason you’d arrive early for an in-person interview, sign into the Zoom link sent you six to seven minutes early, so you’ll be able to handle any last-minute technological glitches. If a problem does occur, let the interviewer know through the chat feature.
In a face-to-face interview, you and your interviewer might greet, shake hands and sit down together. You can give a “digital handshake,” by saying hello, looking into the camera and smiling. When you look directly into the camera, it appears that you’re making eye contact with your interviewer. Keep your focus on the camera and not yourself. It may help you to put two post-it notes next to the camera that say “look here” and “breathe.”
While most people fixate on how they look, you’ll also want to pay attention to how you sound. If nerves make you talk fast, slow yourself down and adopt an enthusiastic tone of voice. Because technology can create a transmission lag, make sure your interviewer has finished his or her thought before speaking. Train yourself to take a breath before you answer. If you’re someone makes vocalizations to encourage others in face-to-face conversations, realize any noise you make can take over the mike. Smile and nod instead. You can also mute your microphone, just remember to unmute before answering.
Finally, prepare your own questions to ask at the end, as they show you’re interested and have spent time thinking about this specific employer. Before you exit, make a positive closing statement such as, “Thank you very much for your time. It was great learning about your company and team. I’m looking forward to working with you – if chosen.” You can also ask, “What are the next steps?” Good luck.
© 2020, Lynne Curry
Lynne Curry writes a weekly column on workplace issues. She is author of “Solutions” and “Beating the Workplace Bully” and www.workplacecoachblog.com. Curry is President of Communication Works Inc. Send your questions to her at email@example.com or follow her on twitter @lynnecurry10.