The shift from in-person employment to remote work has been both stunning to watch and difficult to negotiate. As workers are sent home from their cubicles and home offices are set up from coast to coast, a growing number of employers are abandoning their old interview practices and taking their hiring virtual instead.
If you are currently seeking a job, there is a good chance the initial interview, and possibly the subsequent ones, will be conducted over Zoom or a similar video platform. And while video interviews do have their advantages, these online sessions can have their pitfalls as well. With that in mind, here are some timely tips for helping you shine on screen.
Set Up a Home Office for the Remote Interview — Even If You Do Not Have One
You can work successfully from home even if you do not have a dedicated home office. With a laptop and a smartphone, any room in your home, from a quiet corner of the living room to the guest room that rarely gets used, can be transformed into a productive workplace. Even the space under the stairs can become a home office in a pinch.
Those ad-hoc home office setups are quite common in the real world, but your goal now is to get the job, and for that, the look of a professional workspace is a must. It kind of becomes your dress attire, after all! Having piles of dirty laundry or dirty dishes in the background is not the first impression you want to make. Even if you do not have an office in your home, creating a clean, professional-looking background is a must.
Position your desk or laptop where there is a clean wall space behind you. It’s okay to have pictures or photos hung on the wall or perhaps a shelf with a few knickknacks, but you want to avoid busy or cluttered backgrounds that could be distracting or give an unprofessional appearance. You will also want plenty of light. If there is a window in front of your interview setup, open the shades and let the sunshine in.
Test Out the Remote Interview Technology
When you interview via video feed, you will be wholly reliant on the technology you use, and you’d better test it out. The last thing you need is for a dropped Zoom call or poor internet connection to sabotage your dreams of a better job, and the more you test, the more you can set your mind at ease.
This technology test should also include an examination of how the camera perceives you. Even if you hate looking at that tiny Zoom window of yourself, doing a few test calls will allow you to make adjustments to the lighting, background, and other vital video elements.
Practice Virtual Interviewing With a Friend
Interviewing via video call can be even more stressful than interviewing in person, especially if you have never done it before. If you want to be sharp when the real interview date comes around, try asking a friend to practice with you.
Have them ask you a few common interview questions so you can practice your answers. Have them ask about things you know will come up, such as your scheduling requirements, why you want to work there and how much you want to make.
Additional resource: Most Important Amazon Interview Questions
These practice sessions are useful for both online and in-person interviews, but they can be even more valuable when the interview is being conducted virtually. The more you practice, the more confidence you will gain, and that confidence is sure to shine through.
Keep Your Interview Notes With You — But Out of View
For job seekers, one of the advantages of a video interviewer is that notes are a real possibility. (Yay!) You can keep notes on your beautifully appointed home office desk, and you can refer to them to answer questions, tout your qualifications or display your in-depth knowledge of the company. What you should not do, however, is allow those notes to show on screen, so arrange your space accordingly.
Keeping the notes hidden but still accessible will be easier if you have practiced the video interview with a friend. Having a real person on the other end of the Zoom call can give you insights that no amount of solo practice can accomplish, and repeated practice sessions will boost your confidence levels even more.
Eliminate Distractions Off the Screen
One of the main challenges of working remotely is distractions. Remote workers are faced with them daily, and companies are always worried about just how many you will have and how you will handle them.
A remote interview is a small window of time. Therefore, it is more important than ever to make sure that time is well represented. If you can’t go 20 minutes without an interruption, how will you ever complete a full work shift?
If you have small children, send them on a playdate or have someone come over during your interview to make sure they stay quiet and occupied. Turn off your phone’s ringer and notifications. Turn off the television. Eliminate any potential distractions so 100% of your attention can be focused on the interview.
Put All These Tips Together to Look Great in Your Next Zoom Interview
In the strange new world of work, more and more companies are going remote, sending their employees home and conducting business through the internet. That means that your next job interview may take place digitally, and your ability to put your best face forward could be what lands you the job. The tips listed above can help you get the most out of the video interview, so you can advance your career and fatten your paycheck.