10 Tips to Master Zoom Interviews - Gillman Strategic Group

As we begin Week 5 of working from home, it may be time to reconsider how you feel about Zoom interviews.  With coronavirus still ravaging the country, it seems like we will be practicing social distancing for quite a while.  We predict that Zoom interviews will become more commonplace and have already had candidates who interviewed using this technology.  If you had previously been planning to leave your law firm, or the last month has given you some new perspective about how it’s no longer the right fit for you, it’s time to embrace Zoom for the recruiting process.

Our overall advice is to keep in mind that a Zoom interview is a real interview, with real consequences to your job search and make sure to treat it accordingly.  Here are some tips that may help:

  1. DRESS LIKE YOU WOULD FOR AN IN-PERSON INTERVIEW

For our law firm partner clients, dress as you would to go to court or to meet with your most important client.  Generally, this means a suit and a tie for the men and a dress, suit, or the equivalent for the women.  (If you’re reading this and you’re in a different industry, just make sure to dress in the attire that’s expected for an in-person interview in your industry.)

And please be sure to wear the whole outfit!  Not only is it better for your mindset to be dressed in your business clothes for a business interview, but if you’re not wearing pants you can’t jump up and adjust the computer/lighting/microphone or get a wandering child or pet to leave the room.

  1. MAKE SURE YOUR TECH IS SUFFICIENT

Be sure that you have the strongest internet connection possible in the room you’ve chosen for the interview.  Depending on where you live and how good your service is, you may want to consider getting a router booster.

Make sure that you have Zoom loaded on the device you plan to use and that you know how to join the meeting and work the controls.  If your office is currently using a different platform or not doing much videoconferencing, it’s worth investing some time to set up a Zoom meeting with your friends or family so that you can practice.

  1. CHOOSE YOUR BACKGROUND

Everyone understands that we’re all working from home, but you should still try to find a background without less professional things like toys, dirty dishes, empty bottles of alcohol or unmade beds that make it look unprofessional.

If you have a home office, that’s probably the ideal location.  If not, don’t worry, just try to find a plain wall or bookshelf to sit in front of.

There are also virtual backgrounds you can use, but occasionally they either look fake or are not opaque enough, so we would recommend trying to use a real background in your home if it’s possible.

  1. DECIDE ON YOUR OUTFIT AND CHECK IT ON THE ZOOM SCREEN AHEAD OF TIME

You may have a favorite outfit that you wear for important hearings or closings that has always worked for you in person, but you have to remember that it may not be the same on Zoom.  The person you’re speaking to is only going to see your face and part of your upper body, so what looks very professional full length may not look the same sitting down.

It is highly recommended that you actually get dressed in the outfit you plan to wear and sit down in front of the Zoom setup you’re going to use to test it out.  Simply go to Zoom.us and choose “Host a Meeting” and choose “With Video On” from the drop-down menu.  You will then get a chance to see exactly how your background and outfit will look on camera.

  1. PAY ATTENTION TO GROOMING

Everyone understands that you can’t get to the barber or salon during this time, so people will be much more forgiving than usual, but you should still give some thought to grooming.

If you’re shaving, make sure your shave is fresh.  If you’ve grown a “quarantine beard” just try to make sure it looks neat.  For anyone who is overdue for a haircut, some extra product in your hair may help keep it under control for the interview, or if it’s long enough, consider tying it back.

The camera tends to wash you out a little, so women who ordinarily wear makeup may need a bit more on video and women who don’t may want to consider some powder and blush.

  1. DECIDE IF YOU WILL ADD LIGHTING OR ENHANCE THE SOUND

You should make sure to do a Zoom test of your sound and lighting.  Is there a lot of feedback when you use your computer speakers?  You may want to use Air Pods or other wireless headphones.  Make sure to test them with Zoom ahead of time so that you can get comfortable with the sound.  If that’s still not sufficient for you, there are many add-on microphones you can invest in, whether something you put on your desk or a lavalier style you wear.

How is your lighting?  The easiest way to get good lighting is to have your computer face a source of natural light.  Be sure not to have the sun behind you or it can cause shadows that change throughout the interview and may even block your face.  Also make sure not to have any lighting in the frame that causes a glare.  If the background you wish to use for the interview doesn’t have a good source of natural light nearby, there are lights you can buy for your desktop, a tripod next to your desk, or even to clip onto your computer screen.

Amazon has been a good source of these items with a fairly quick turnaround and there are certainly some inexpensive options.

  1. CHECK YOUR SET-UP WELL BEFORE THE INTERVIEW

For the best look on Zoom, you should position your device so that the camera is above you and then angle it down.  This way, you will be more likely to look straight at the interviewer instead of looking down.  This is easiest to do with a laptop, but can also be accomplished with an iPad or other tablet.  You will probably need to position your device on some books or a box so that the camera can be raised a bit.

Again, test this out ahead of time by hosting a meeting with video so you can see the camera height and angle.  Once you’re satisfied with your setup, try to leave it the same way until the interview or at least remember how you had it so you can recreate.

  1. TRY TO MAKE SURE YOU WON’T HAVE ANY DISTRACTIONS OR DISRUPTIONS

Everyone understands that you’re working from home and a certain amount of background noise or interruptions will be understood, but you should let everyone in your home know you’ll be on a very important video and can’t be interrupted.  You should also avoid running the dishwasher or washer/dryer during this time, or having the television on in the background.

You also need to make sure that you won’t be distracted, so put your mobile phone away and disable notifications on the device you plan to use for the interview.

  1. MAKE SURE YOU’RE ON TIME (OR BETTER YET, A FEW MINUTES EARLY)

Just like for an in-person interview you check the address and make sure you know how to get there, you need to do that here.  Make sure you have the Zoom link that your interviewer sent and make you know how to sign onto Zoom.

Just like you leave a few extra minutes to account for possible transit delays or traffic when you head to an in-person interview, you should do so now.  Sometimes there’s a delay in signing onto Zoom and you certainly don’t want your interviewer to think that you’re late or you forgot.  It’s better to plan to be 5 minutes early than to have to explain why you’re late.

  1. MAKE SURE TO LOOK AND SEEM EXTRA-ATTENTIVE

Try to remember that to make your Zoom meeting as close to in-person as possible, you have to be extra engaged.  This may mean leaning into the camera to make a point or slightly exaggerating your facial expressions so that your interviewer knows you’re interested in the conversation.  We recommend using Speaker View instead of Gallery so that your interviewer takes up more of the screen and it’s easier to seem like you are looking him or her in the eye instead of looking down.

Whatever you do, please don’t check your phone or other devices, send an email, or read a text during the interview.  This is the time to be completely focused on the conversation you’re having.

We hope that these tips will help get you started.  We’ll also be posting some videos to demonstrate.  Please feel free to reach out to Gillman Strategic Group with any questions you have or any additional topics you would like us to address.