Zoom interviews are becoming increasingly popular, particularly for first-round interviews, as more companies embrace remote and hybrid work.
How do you prepare for an interview on Zoom? Are there special considerations to ensure success when meeting a prospective employer via video?
While many of the steps you’ll take to prepare for a Zoom interview are akin to an in-person one, there are a few distinctions you’ll want to keep in mind as you get ready for your big day.
9 Tips To Prepare For An Interview On Zoom
Here are 9 steps that will help you ace your next video interview:
1. Confirm the details.
Before diving too deep into the best practices for preparing for a Zoom interview, you’ll want to first confirm key details about the role and appointment. This is an important, yet often missed, first step that can save you considerable stress and ensure you’re set up for success.
The following questions can guide you in collecting these interview details:
- Who will I be meeting with and for how long?
- What topic areas will be covered during our interview?
- Are there any materials or resources you suggest I review in preparation for our conversation?
2. Outline your key talking points.
Once you have a clear understanding of what to expect during your Zoom interview, you can begin the preparation process. One of the benefits of interviewing via Zoom is that you can create a document with your key talking points, then reference it during your conversation without the interviewer knowing.
Importantly, you don’t want to be reading directly from your document but rather have it available, as needed, to serve as a reference. Consequently, try writing your notes as brief phrases or bullet points rather than sentences to avoid the temptation to read on the day of your interview.
3. Practice responding to common interview questions.
Now, you’ll want to practice responding to interview questions using your new cheat sheet. Like any interview, virtual or in-person, you’ll want to be prepared for common job interview questions, including:
- Can you tell us about yourself?
- What are your biggest strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- What’s your leadership style?
- Why do you want to work for us?
4. Make eye contact with your webcam.
As you get accustomed to the process of answering interview questions on Zoom, you’ll want to get used to a new way of making eye contact.
While it’s natural to look at the person on the screen during a Zoom meeting, you actually want to look into the webcam when speaking. (And if your web camera is more than a few years old, you might consider investing in a new one, as the increased quality can make a positive impact on your first impression.)
Some of my interview clients have invested in Center Cam or a similar webcam device as it helps you appear is if you’re making make eye contact with the interviewer. Regardless of whether you choose to use one of these add-on devices, be sure to practice looking into the webcams as you speak.
5. Prepare your Zoom background.
Besides making your webcam is set up properly, you’ll want to ensure your background is free of distractions. This includes removing any images or objects you wouldn’t feel comfortable with the interviewer bringing up during the conversation. At the same time, including a relevant and appropriate aspect of your personality in the background can help you stand out and be more memorable when it’s done with strategy and intention.
Some job seekers ultimately opt to use a virtual or blurred Zoom background. Importantly, you don’t want the virtual background to distract the interviewer from you or what you’re saying.
6. Double-check your technology.
Speaking of distractions, be sure to ensure all your technology is working properly before the big day.
- If you’re using a laptop, ensure it will be fully charged and plugged in throughout the entire interview process.
- If you’re using a tablet, kept it on a flat and stationary surface, plugged in.
- Only use your phone as a last resort, as cellular devices tend to be less reliable for Zoom interviews.
Just as predicted by Murphy’s Law, Wi-Fi has a tendency to be finicky when you really need it, like during a Zoom interview. Consequently, request the interviewer’s phone number before the interview so you have it ready should either of you experience connectivity issues.
7. Test your Zoom setup.
Even if you regularly conduct meetings on Zoom, I still suggest testing your video, lighting, and audio before interviews.
One way to test your setup while also practicing your interview skills is to record your elevator pitch on the device you’ll be using for your interview. Then, watch it a minimum of three times to see how your Zoom setup is working, as well as how you might come across to the interviewer:
- Audio Only: Listen to the audio only and focus on your answers.
- Video Only: Watch just the video so you can pay attention to your non-verbal communication skills and executive presence.
- Audio + Video Combined: Play the combined audio and video a final time, taking note of your overall presence, delivery, and fabulousness.
8. Rehearse with someone you trust.
Once you begin to feel confident in your delivery, ask a mentor or trusted friend to rehearse your interview with you, which is especially important if you’re not used to meeting on Zoom. This process allows you to practice using your talking points to respond to interview questions, test your technology and Zoom setup, and calm any nerves that may be lingering.
Since you only get one first impression, you might also consider partnering with an interview coach to refine your responses. A trained professional can help you take your stories to the next level so that you can stand out in the saturated job market.
9. Arrive early.
Once the big day comes, ensure that your phone and any other potential distractions are silenced. Also, notify anyone else in your home that you’ll be conducting a video interview and not to disturb you. It can be helpful to place a sign on your door as a reminder to others that you shouldn’t be disturbed.
Then, you’ll want to arrive early to your virtual interview to ensure you’re able to successfully log in and settle yourself. Because recruiters and hiring managers are often in back-to-back calls, don’t fret if you’re sitting in the virtual Zoom waiting room a few minutes after the meeting is scheduled to begin.
Finally, once your Zoom interview gets going, it’s time to simply be your fabulous self. You’ve got this!