Interviewing is hard and Zoom interviewing is even harder. You’re putting yourself out there, hoping for a company to give you a job and even when you’re very qualified, you’ve still got to work hard to sell your personality and your possible contribution to the org. Based on my experiences lately on both sides of the camera, I’ve put together a couple of do’s and don’t’s.
Video Call Basics: It has to be said - consider Zoom etiquette. Your voice. Your outfit. Making sure the tech works. These ideas have been hammered home but I still see people with issues that were avoidable. Get a friend to do a practice run with you, bonus points if you film it. Make sure your sound is good, your face is accurately portrayed, there’s nothing super weird or distracting the background you can remove.
Technical Difficulties: If there’s a tech snafu, be prepared to roll with it. Wifi dies. Children enter unexpectedly. The benefit of everyone working from home is that we are all in this boat together and the expectations for professionalism have changed. That being said, have your back-up solutions ready; charged cel phone, extra headphones, etc...
Awkward Pauses: Silence is awkward at the best of times and feels even more so in virtual interviews. If you need a moment to think, say so. Give the interviewer that context, to know you’re taking the question seriously and want to give a thoughtful answer. Obviously, this isn’t great if the question is “tell me about your background” but for more open-ended ideas based questions, don’t rush.
Opening Chit Chat: Think about your casual chat. Virtual interviews tend to be more transactional. You want them to know about you just as much as you need to know about them. If this type of human give and take doesn’t come up in the beginning, use some of the time at the end allotted to discussing more personal questions, how they got to their role, what they like best about the culture and the org, how it’s different to their previous role, etc… It’s beneficial for you to show off your personal side, particularly as studies have shown the quality of the non-job-related chat is correlated to getting the role, but it’s easier to propose this more casual conversation on the premise of finding out more about them and how you might like to work with this person.
Use Your Home Environment: As I said, virtual interviews tend to be more transactional so you want to make sure you hit all the points in the questions asked in an effective and logical manner. This is one way in which WFH is better than in person, you can have your notes in front of you. Take advantage! Tack up post-its around your screen of salient points to your answers to common questions. Write things down as the interviewer says them so you know what to cover in your answers.
Active Listening: Tape something over your image so you can react to theirs. While we can’t recreate being in person, mirroring their physical behavior, giving active listening clues like nodding and murmuring assent, really just generally appearing interested is still very important in online conversations. Also, don’t mute for this reason unless you have to. No one likes talking into a void!
Gauge their Reactions: In the same vein, look for the clues they are giving you. It’s harder when you’re not in the room with someone to tell if your answer is going off piste, look for clues of discomfort or gentle attempts at interruptions, like coughs and throat clearing, to tell you that you want to wrap it up. Or ask if you’re answering the question they are looking for. It’s ok to sync up with the interviewer. Working with fewer non-verbal clues means we have to lean harder on verbal ones.
Don’t Forget the Phone: Does this call need to be VC? It can be hard as the interviewee to make this decision as there’s an implicit power imbalance in looking for a role, but we as humans can process auditory information very effectively, perhaps more effectively than video calls. VC can be tiring, distracting, and stressful, and I’d argue it definitely doesn’t have to be the norm
Present for Zoom: If you’re doing a presentation, remember what it’s like to watch them now. They are only on your screen, you sometimes can’t see the participant’s face depending on the technology, and viewers are perhaps even more likely to zone out. Make sure your slides are the right kind of informative and sizing for this environment. No fonts you have to put your nose to the screen to see!
What are you seeing that’s working or not in virtual interviews?