How to ace your Zoom job interview

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As the recruitment process goes online, make sure you're ready to take your digital interviewing skills to the next level

By Roshni Barot, Employer Engagement & Skills Development Manager, University of Birmingham Dubai

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Published: Thu 30 Jul 2020, 9:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 7 Aug 2020, 11:50 AM

The pandemic has turned even the most tech-phobic among us into video-calling experts. But how many of us are confident about videoconferencing for interviews, which are already nerve-wracking enough?
The good news is that the questions you will be asked during a video interview, and the way you conduct yourself, largely remain the same as a 'traditional' face-to-face interview. There are just a couple of additional things to be mindful of if you want to ace a live video interview:

Get your gear together
Although it sounds obvious, this is all too often left to the last minute. Familiarise yourself with the video conferencing platform ahead of time and check that your Internet connection is stable. It may even be worth investing in a second router if your connection tends to drop off.
Practice is the key to success, so ask a friend to video call you so that you are able to test the camera and sound. Take the time to go over some mock interview questions with them so that you get used to delivery on the screen.
Before you start, close all unnecessary browsers. In case you're required to share your screen (to show work or a presentation, for example), the interviewer doesn't need to see your shopping habits at the top. In addition, closing other apps and browsers will help stabilise your internet connection and eliminate any distracting pop-ups or alerts during the interview.
Using your smart phone for a video interview should be a last resort. However, not all of us have the luxury of a laptop or desktop per person in the household. If you do have to use your phone, let the recruiter know and explain your situation ahead of time, and they are likely to be understanding.
Last, but not least, whether it be a laptop, tablet or smart phone, do not forget to fully charge the device.

'Set' the scene
Make sure you are facing windows; never sit with your back to the light. Be prepared that natural light can change so if you can, use two desk lamps on either side of you to illuminate your face properly. Make sure you position the webcam so it aligns with your eyes - you may need to elevate your laptop or screen for this.
Your background should be uncluttered. Personally, I would avoid artificial backdrops, even if they are professionally designed. Keep it simple with a nice painting or bookshelf behind you - and make sure there are no embarrassing photos or knick-knacks visible.
Like any interview, dress to impress, but avoid patterns, dots and stripes as they do not always translate well on screen. Again, as with a traditional interview, arrive early. Be at your desk, ready to start the interview, at least 10 minutes beforehand.

When it's time
Pianist David Tutor once said, "Performing is much like cooking: putting it all together and raising the temperature." He was probably talking about a concert hall as opposed to an interview setting, but it is equally as fitting. Once you have 'Lights, camera, action', you are ready for your close-up!
When you start the call, make sure the sound levels are correct. There is no harm in asking the interviewer if they can hear you clearly at the start of the interview. Maintain good eye contact and body language, but avoid moving too much as it can be distracting.
Speaking of distractions, get rid of your mobile phone. Put it on silent and in another room if at all possible. Find a quiet space. Spend the interview focused on answering the questions that you have worked so hard to prepare for.

One last thing
Some organisations may have a dedicated video conferencing system, others may rely on what's already out on the public domain. If you are using personal software, make sure you have an appropriate login name and profile photo. An ID like 'missy234567' will hardly portray the professional you.
Video interviews are not just a fad that have arisen due to the pandemic. As the recruitment process becomes more global, we are likely to see a rise in video interviews as part of the hiring process, so make sure you're ready to take your digital interviewing skills to the next level in order to secure interview success.

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