Career Advice for Job Seekers

9 tips for a successful Zoom or other video interview

Steven Rothberg AvatarSteven Rothberg
June 8, 2020

Obviously, prepare as if for an in-person interview. Meaning, review your successes so you can talk about them, do your research on the company/organization. 

Tip: Tape your resume on the wall or to a flipchart behind your computer so you can readily glance at it without looking down at your desk and studying it during the interview, which will be very visible to your interviewer and you’ll look like you don’t even know what’s on it. But also, be sure to do the following: 

  • Make sure your device’s camera is pointed at you and not at your ceiling or your keyboard!
  • Also be sure that there are no bright lights – like the sun! – coming in over your shoulder or it will not only be super bright and very annoying to them, you’ll come across as someone who doesn’t know how to use today’s technology. Also, with that bright light coming in from behind you, you will be seen only in silhouette so they won’t be able to see your face!
  • Just as I tell people doing in-person interviews, make it a practice to not touch your face or hair during an interview. By “face”, I mean anything that’s part of your face, like your nose, teeth/mouth, ears. This can be considered gross. And on camera, those movements are very, very obvious and therefore distracting.
  • Keep things behind you simple: don’t have distracting items behind you, either on the wall or even on the floor — they’ll see them. So make sure that your unmade/made bed are out of view. A tip: Zoom and other platforms offer digital backgrounds — try them out ahead of time to see if any work for you.
  • We call them laptops but do NOT keep your laptop on your lap during a video interview, if that’s the device you’re using. First, the camera will be pointing up at your chin (or your nose…), not a good angle. Next, any body movement on your part will cause the laptop to move, which is annoying to the other party. So find a solid (non-moving) surface for it, at a height that allows you to look straight into your computer camera lens; use books or boxes to raise it higher.
  • Practicing with a friend or your job search coach before The Real Thing will help you work out any bugs, and give you confidence. I’ve helped clients before their “real” video-based interviews by doing a test run, something I am happy to do with them.
  • While you’re using the video chat software, if the screen freezes or breaks up but you can still hear the interviewer, keep going. Sometimes temporary image issues happen, so be prepared, because it can be very distracting. If it gets so bad that sound is affected, the interviewer may ask you to turn off video (sometimes that works) or restart the session, or you may have to tell them you’re missing some of what they’re saying, “So can we restart?”, so as to get a better connection. Better that than to be wondering what question they just asked you!
  • Last step: As with an in-person interview, ask the interviewer what the next step is, and who you should follow up with. Send an email thank you (so you have space in the communication to point out how you match the job; little hand-written notes can’t do that) within 4 hours of the interview. Then follow up 3 days later, via phone or email. And keep your search going with other employers! 
  • If the interview is automated, such as with HireVue or similar software, your company contact (or an automated email!) will give you the link to use. Apps like this give you time to prepare to answer each question, time to answer it and be video recorded, and (often) time to revise it. Employers like using this so that each person on the hiring team, wherever they are, can see the same “performance”. As always, prep beforehand by reviewing your resume and your success stories.

— Courtesy of Joanne Meehl, MS, IJCDC, FAVAR®LinkedIn Certified | Your Career is the Treasury of Your Life (c) | Coaches Council | Services and Booking Time With JoanneMonthly News and Archives | NOW: Group access to Joanne for only $7/month?!

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