How To Prepare For Your Zoom Interview

2021-04-08| Clare Allan

Twelve months ago, I never would’ve envisioned that I’d be writing this blog. Interviews take place face to face, don’t they? It’s not possible to read body language and build rapport over a video call, is it?

Obviously, that’s now all changed. At PEN we made around 8 permanent hires last year, most of whom were interviewed and onboarded entirely virtually.

It’s now normal for candidates never to set foot in the office of the company they’re joining. But as a candidate, how do you guard against the impersonal nature of video calls impeding your chances of success? Here are some tips:

  • Check the technology works. Test it out by using Teams or Zoom to call a friend before the interview. I’ve interviewed a few people lately who were using their phone camera, but they didn’t realise that although their image looked fine to them, I could only see their eyes, very close to the camera! If children are around, homeschooling or playing video games, consider kicking them off their devices until your call’s finished to avoid internet issues. Check your microphone settings too so it’s automatically on when you log in.
  • Consider using a headset. I was sceptical and didn’t much like the look or feel of a headset, until I tried one. Now, i'm a complete convert. The sound is so much clearer for me and for the other party. I much prefer it when my fellow Zoomers wear headsets.
  • Use the mute button. While the interviewer’s describing the organisation or the role, go on mute just in case your mic is giving off any feedback. Just remember to unmute yourself again when you start speaking.
  • Check your background. I prefer a real life background to a virtual one because I find it interesting seeing people’s workspaces (perhaps I’m just nosy), but make sure there’s nothing controversial on display!
  • Dress appropriately. Smart casual is acceptable for interviews these days – but with longer hair due to the closure of salons, I’d err on the side of smart. When your posture and body language can’t easily be conveyed over video call, it’s good to at least look smart.
  • Prepare questions. With rapport-building being tougher over video calls, the natural flow of conversation can be strained. So it’s even more important to attend the interview armed with a list of questions as a prompt, as they may not spring to mind like they would in a face-to-face interview.

What has your virtual interview experience been like and have you mastered any other useful tips and tricks? As always, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts so please do drop me a line.

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