Essential Zoom Interview Tips & Best Practices

The year 2020 was a scary year for businesses and job seekers. 

Not only were businesses instantly sent into panic mode, but so were those looking for a job. 

But, luckily enough since then, the job market has turned into a market for job seekers.  

While unemployment still remains high, don’t be fooled. Businesses all over the globe are desperate for work.  

It’s a crazy phenomenon, but don’t put away your computer just yet. You may need it for an interview soon. 

In this article, we will be giving you Zoom interview tips so that you can be sure to get the job for which you’re looking. 

Regardless of how you interview, you’re bound to come across the opportunity at one point or another, and in a virtual world, it’s good to be prepared. 

Because let’s face it: in-person work and interviews have ceased to exist for a while now. 

The working world has been taken over on a global scale by virtual interviews, happy hours, meetings and more. 

Meaning, it’s probably a good idea to get used to how to use Zoom for an interview and to get some tips and best practices down so that you’re able and prepared when the time comes. 

That being said, let’s jump right in. 

What is Zoom?

Zoom is a virtual platform that meets communication needs through video, chat, meetings, phone, webinars and online events. 

While Zoom is a brand-name, it also has become standard to use it as a way to tell people that you’re meeting remotely or virtually. 

Most commonly when referring to Zoom, you are referring to video chats or meetings. So, don’t assume you’ll be able to hide behind the phone. 

So again, it’s safe to say if someone asks to meet or interview you via the Zoom software, you’re going to be on video, which means we need to address some of the tips and best practices for interviewing on Zoom. 

Tips for A Successful Zoom Interview

Let’s first address the list of tips for Zoom interviews and how to have proper Zoom interview etiquette before diving into each: 

  1. Don’t be late. 
  2. Dress for success. 
  3. Use or choose or a good professional-looking background. 
  4. Find a room with lots of bright light. 
  5. Adjust your computer’s notifications, or simply turn them off. 
  6. Use a desktop computer or laptop. 
  7. Check your internet connection. 
  8. Find somewhere quiet where you won’t be bothered. 
  9. Use good body language. 
  10. Try your technology beforehand. 
  11. Ask good questions. 
  12. Use the mute button when you aren’t talking. 
  13. Try not to look at yourself as much as you look at the camera. 
  14. Declutter your computer screen. 

Now that we’ve detailed tips for Zoom interviews at a high level, let’s jump into each and discuss them in a bit more length. 

Don’t Be Late

This one should be obvious, but some people tend to be notoriously late. 

Now, we understand that issues arise, whether that’s a household emergency or a technological issue, but try your best to anticipate those issues. 

At the end of the day, this is usually only about a 30-minute block of time, and interviews are important. 

Try your best to consider what could possibly make you late and get ahead of the game. 

Be prepared to show up on time and ready to go.  

The worst first impression you could make is showing up late. And remember, it’s always about the first impressions we make. 

Dress for Success

In preparation, you should consider what to wear for a Zoom interview. 

Just because your interview is virtual, doesn’t mean that you won’t be seen. As mentioned before, if you get a virtual invite to a Zoom interview, you can expect to be on video. 

Part of the reason is because employers don’t want phone calls to take away from the experience of interviewing someone in person.  

Because, like we said, first impressions are everything. The way that you’re dressed is part of that. 

Consider your best outfit for looking professional. Sure, everyone has a different style. Maybe you choose a dress over pants, or vice versa.  

Just be sure to look clean, sophisticated and covered up.  

For any interview, you shouldn’t be dressed in what you would wear to a night on the town with friends. Rather, you should be ready to show the employer that you’re capable of being a professional and looking clean and respectable. 

Keep in mind, in a Zoom interview, usually just your shirt and face are seen. It can be tempting to have on your favorite pajama pants and slippers under the desk. 

Our advice is to get fully ready for your interview. Leave your pajama pants for after the interview and be fully present. 

It helps to get dressed in a way that simulates an in-person interview. It may even give you an extra boost of confidence. 

After all, it is proper interview etiquette. 

Use a Professional Background

Another important factor to consider is your background. Before the interview, try turning on your test camera to see what shows up behind you. 

Would you want someone cooking up a storm behind you in the kitchen? Likely not. 

Nor would you want your background to include posters of your favorite heavy metal band. 

Think about the interview rooms you’ve walked into in the past. 

They’re usually pretty bland – like a typical business conference room. But see, that’s the point. 

When considering your background for the Zoom interview, think about that bland conference room. It’s meant to be that way because it doesn’t provide any distractions to the interview. 

We realize it’s a bit more difficult to find a professional-looking space in your home, especially if you have a family or roommates around. 

In fact, you may not even have an official office space. But that’s okay, because Zoom has created several background filters you can put on to ensure nothing gets in the way of looking professional. 

Whether you want to blur out your background or put up a fake office space behind you, Zoom has you covered so be sure to check out your different options. 

Use Bright Light

Some people have mastered the lighting to nail a zoom interview by using light rings and other devices that attach to the laptop. 

If you’ve made it that far, you’re clearly a professional. 

But for those of you who don’t have a ring light at your disposal, you should be considerate of the light sources you have for your interview.   

The biggest mistake you can make when it comes to lighting is either not having enough lighting or having way too much. 

You can assume that not having enough light is an issue. The glow of the computer screen is typically not enough when it comes to zoom interviews. 

Many people then resort to sitting in front of a window, thinking the glorious light shining from behind them is helping. 

Yes, you might look angelic, but that’s not what you want. At least for your interview. 

Find a place where you can set up your computer so that you are facing the window. You will be amazed at the difference and clarity that comes from light shining on you, rather than from behind you. 

Turn Off the Notifications

Maybe this seems obvious, but we all have days of forgetfulness.  

In a world demanding and technological world, we all have people who constantly need us. And if not people needing us, then it’s Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok letting us know it’s been too long since we’ve logged on. 

There are 24 hours in a day, and you will have plenty of time to check your notifications and communicate with people who need you. 

For this one hour, or even 30 minutes, turn your phone on silent or do not disturb and give your full attention to the interview. 

Don’t forget to turn your computer notifications off either! Emails, calendar reminders and news headlines still bother us from our computer screens.  

You don’t want the noise interrupting your zoom interview and you certainly don’t want a notification distracting you during an important time. 

Don’t Use Your Cellphone

Trust us, it’s not worth it. 

Have you ever picked up a Microsoft Team’s video call or a Zoom video call from your phone?  

If you have, you know that it’s quite different from using your desktop computer or laptop. 

In some cases, you’ll find that the mobile app shows a much more zoomed in view of your face, cutting out anything below your neck. 

It’s probably safe to assume most people want a good, healthy distance. 

Sometimes the mobile app, depending on your service, won’t have good quality either.  

There are several reasons to play it safe and not use a mobile device for your interview. Pick any reason. 

Find your laptop or desktop computer and you are guaranteed to have and provide a better experience during your Zoom interview. It’s more optimized for that formatting. 

Check Your Internet

It’s safe to say that technology works most of the time, but there are always glitches we can’t account for.  

But one glitch we can try our best to avoid is an internet glitch. 

Be conscience of your internet speed and connection. It may never be perfect or the best, and outside factors may play a role in its inefficiencies.  

But just to be safe, you should do your due diligence and make sure everything is operating before it’s time to log on for your Zoom interview. 

Give yourself enough time beforehand so that you can test it and try and fix it if anything goes wrong. 

Find Somewhere Quiet

No one likes to be bothered or distracted, especially during an important conversation. 

And the person you’re meeting with doesn’t want to deal with the distractions on your side of the screen either. 

We realize that in a work-from-home world, it’s sometimes hard to avoid your environment, especially if you have children or pets at home. 

They can often be demanding of us, and if you don’t have a way to distract them while you perform your interview, it’s going to make it much harder. 

If needed, ask your spouse or a friend to watch your pet or children during your call. Spend time in preparation for your interview so that you have proper accommodation for anything or anyone that may be distracting in your background. 

Body Language is Key

You’ve heard this before, but we’ll say it again: body language is so important. 

If you decide to take your Zoom interview from the couch, it may not go over so well for the interviewer. 

Having proper interview and zoom etiquette are synonymous with one another. You wouldn’t go to an in-person interview and slouch back in your chair. 

In fact, you probably wouldn’t do so much as cross your arms. 

Why? Because body language matters. Non-verbal cues can be just as impactful as verbal cues. 

Show your interest, show you are listening and show that you can be a professional through your body language.  

The way you sit and compose yourself should reflect any manner in which you’re trying to speak professionally. 

Don’t say all the right things and then have it ruined by your body language. 

Test Your Technology

Technology is amazing. It allows us to participate in interviews just like the one for which you’re preparing right now. 

But technology can sometimes be unreliable. We’ve all experienced it before. 

Whether it’s your internet connection or your computer, technology can disappoint us, and likely has disappointed you at an important time. 

Make sure your computer is plugged in properly and ensure that you have good connections and a charged battery.  

Log into your virtual interview platform and make sure you’ve got the account and permissions you need to simply click “join the meeting” when the time comes. 

If you need to test it out just to be sure, have a friend send you an invite so that you can role play through everything. 

You’ll want to test your microphone and webcam to ensure that everything is working properly so to avoid any awkward moments that start with questions like “Can you hear me?” “Can you see me?” 

Ask Good Questions

Just because your interview is a virtual one, doesn’t mean that you should throw out any of your interview best practices. 

While the environment may look a bit different than before, you should still prepare for your interview just the same. 

Asking good questions in the interview is something that has been important since the beginning of time. 

Asking questions shows that you have done some research into the company, the job description and the culture.  

It shows that you care, you want to know how you can develop in the role, and it shows the employer what matters to you. 

Some example questions could be: 

“What mentorship opportunities do you have available to employees?” 

“What is the most challenging part about your job?” 

“What does a typical day on the job look like?” 

“What do you love most about your company’s culture?” 

“What are the different tracks for career development beyond this role?” 

Essentially, you don’t want to leave the interview with any questions unanswered. It’s so important for you to ask questions that give you enough detail into what it would look like to take the job, if offered to you. 

Additionally, asking good questions is what the employer hopes you will do. It shows that you care, and they want people who care about the company, the role, and ways to grow in a career. 

If offered the job, you want to have all the information you need to draw upon the right conclusion for you. Help set yourself up for success in the long run. 

Use the Mute Button

This is a great feature when it comes to virtual Zoom interviews. 

While you may think you’ve found the quietest area for your interview, there are still sounds, sound waves, and occasionally echoes that come through the computer. 

You’ve probably been on a video call before where someone’s fan is blowing in the background and creating an awful sound that makes it hard to hear and distracting to talk against. 

Do yourself and the other person a favor by muting yourself when you’re not talking to ensure that there is better ease of communication. 

It’s hard to know if there are other background noises that the computer is picking up that you may not think are an issue, so just mute yourself to be safe. 

It won’t look bad if you do so, it just means you’re being quiet and respecting the other person’s time speaking. 

Don’t Look at Yourself Too Much

Now, we all love to look at ourselves, so this is a tough one. 

For an interview especially, there’s no doubt you’re dressed to the nines in your favorite dress or tie. 

But don’t worry about it during your interview. 

It’s natural for people to want to look at themselves. And having to interview on a virtual platform that shows a front-facing view of yourself is difficult. 

Try to avoid it as much as possible. It’s very easy and at times obvious, for the other person to notice when you’re looking at them versus yourself. 

Maybe you need to check in on yourself sometimes to ensure the lighting is okay and that there’s nothing in your background. 

But don’t make it a habit. 

Remember that when you do in-person interviews, you have no opportunity to see yourself. 

Well, of course, unless for any reason there’s a mirror or reflection. But let’s assume that’s not the case because it probably is. 

You’ve had time to get ready, look presentable, and maybe even practice in the mirror. 

If you can ignore your self-facing camera during your Zoom interview, you’ll feel less distracted and more present with your interview and getting to know the person on the other side of the screen, at eye level. 

Declutter Your Computer

Last but not least, declutter your screen. 

Imagine sitting going into an in-person interview. You are greeted at the door and your interviewer walks you back to a room where you can talk, undistracted. 

You walk into the room and are asked to sit at a table filled with stacks of paper, the interviewer’s lunch and pictures, posters and décor scattered all over the place. 

How distracting would that be? 

Think of your computer screen the same way you think about the interview environment you want to be in. 

Of course, this one is not about the interviewer. They will have no idea that you have 100 tabs open on Google Chrome and 50 folders and documents scattered on your home screen. 

But you will know, and you will see it. 

Don’t give yourself any reason to be distracted in your environment. An in-person interview is much more difficult because you don’t have control over your environment. 

But when you’re home, in your quiet space you’ve designated for this very interview, you have control over your environment. 

Keep it clean, free of distractions and hindrances on your interview performance. 

In Conclusion

There are many things you can do to nail the Zoom interview for which you’ve been preparing. 

Your best bet is going to be your control over your environment. While virtual interviews bring about their own difficulties and oddities, you still have control over several things. 

Try your best not to think differently about a virtual interview versus an in-person interview. 

It’s important that you treat them the same, because employers don’t want any excuses. 

The whole world has been in the virtual game for long enough and they expect us to have it figured out. 

Of course, there are many things that can happen outside of our control, like the internet going out just in time for the interview, or the dog barking in the background. 

But hopefully this list of Zoom interview tips helps you go into the interview prepared and feel focused on nailing the interview, versus what could go wrong. 

While technology isn’t always on our side, there’s always a way to make the best out of Zoom interviews.