Here's how to nail your job interview on Zoom

·4 min read

Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies across the country are still hiring workers. And many are taking cautious, safe steps by conducting video job interviews. 

If you’ve never had one of these before, you may not know what to expect from one. Here’s how to crush your Zoom job interview, plus some ways to avoid failing.

Check your surroundings

When you walk into a potential company’s office, you usually take in their surroundings. But on Zoom, hiring managers are taking in yours.

“Create a set in the background that is clean, organized, and professional in nature,” said Amanda Portillo, CEO & Founder of Compass Career Directions and a job search strategist. “Remove distractions at home, such as pets.”

Portrait of young successful businesswoman wearing creative haircut and glasses smiling cheerfully while holding videochat using hands free mic and laptop at workplace in modern office against window
(Photo: Getty Creative)

If you have a dog that barks at simple distractions, consider keeping them in another room while you’re on your call. Make sure you’re in an area of your home that’s free of noise and other interruptions. Find a Zoom background that’s a good fit for your interview that shows your personality without disturbing the interview itself. The less hiring managers focus on what’s around you, the more they can focus on you.

Dress the part

If you’ve been home for the last year or so, you might’ve gotten comfy in sweatpants or pajamas as your new daywear. But that could be a big turnoff to potential bosses.

Even though you’re in your home, you should dress for an interview as if you were going into an office or meeting a hiring manager for coffee. If you’re struggling to find a full outfit that still fits, consider doing the business mullet: professional up top, casual on the bottom.

Prepare the same, prepare differently

Remember that you’re still in an interview for a job, so you’ll want to do as much preparation in advance for the job you want.

“Research the company’s history, products or services, and corporate culture,” Portillo said. “Prepare your responses to interview questions in advance and ask insightful questions to interviewers.”

Also keep in mind that you may not take all the same steps as if it were in person. For instance, Portillo said you don’t need a resume for a Zoom job interview. But make sure you get the login information and have the right applications for your interview. There’s also that part about video.

“Look at the camera, not yourself on video!” Portillo said. “This will make the interviewers feel like you are speaking directly to them.”

Male indian hr, recruiter or employer holding cv having online virtual job interview meeting with african candidate on video call. Distance remote recruitment conference chat. Over shoulder view.
(Photo: Getty Creative)

It’s easy to get distracted by yourself, but that can throw off your entire interview if you aren’t paying attention. While you’re probably used to looking at someone when you’re speaking, take the time to look at your camera instead. You may want to do some trial runs with a friend or relative who can keep you on track. You’ll also want to check as often as necessary that you have a strong, reliable connection.

After the interview, remember to send a thank-you note, just like you would if you had interviewed in person. A simple email should suffice, but these notes continue to stand out with hiring managers so try your best to write one within a day or two following your interview.

Remember how you got here

Many hiring managers know your employment history and your work stands up on its own. The interview is a time to show off not only yourself, but your value to the company.

“Don’t be afraid to be yourself — employers don’t want to hire a robot,” Portillo said. That means “smile, crack a tasteful or relevant joke, or ask if you could elaborate on an answer that you previously gave but feel you left something out.”

Many interview questions are similar, especially as it relates to how you’re qualified for the job at hand and why they should hire you. Practice these answers before your interview so you aren’t flubbing or awkwardly answering.

“Be aware of thoughts that do not serve you and fact-check your thoughts,” Portillo said. “Don’t beat yourself up if you feel like you could have answered some questions better. Interviewers generally know that interviewees are a bit nervous and consider many things when making a hiring decision.”

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Dori Zinn is a personal finance journalist based in South Florida. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, CNET, Quartz, TIME, and others.

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