In the era of COVID-19, conducting interviews via online tools like Zoom or Skype has become even more prevalent.
With this article, you’ll learn about appropriate interview attire and behavior, and most importantly, Zoom interview tips to ace that upcoming online interview.
Getting Familiar with Zoom and Skype
Even if you’ve never used them before, chances are you’ve heard of Zoom and Skype. They’re both online platforms used for communicating with voice and video technology.
Both use a high level of video quality — 1080p video — which is ideal for video conferencing, particularly online video interviews. They’re both compatible with Windows, macOS, and a range of web browsers.
With regards to interviews, both platforms allow you to present yourself audibly and visibly through video meetings. Though it’s possible you can turn the video off, chances are a potential employer will want to see you during the interview.
To best prepare for your virtual interview, it’s best to get familiar with these two video conferencing options. You’ll feel most confident and comfortable if you’ve done your homework researching Zoom and Skype ahead of time.
Zoom is the more recent of the two. Founded in 2011, its program is clouded-based and offers users both online chat and video telephony services. Zoom is mostly used for teleconferencing in the workplace, although it’s also used for socially distant education and social calls.
More specifically, Zoom can be used as a phone system or a conference room, and it can also provide an accessible platform for a video webinar or a business meeting.
This platform has more features when compared to Skype, so you might consider familiarizing yourself with options like virtual hand raising and breakout sessions, just in case.
Zoom is free to download, although it also offers a couple of pricing plans for small teams, businesses, and enterprises.
Like Zoom, Skype specializes in telecommunications through voice calls and video chats, as well as instant messaging (IM) services. With Skype, you’ll be able to share files, send IMs, participate in group calls, and, of course, one-on-one video chats.
Skype has been around since 2003 and, as such, is a reliable source for both personal and professional communication.
Skype is free to download on virtually any device — from tablets to computers to cell phones — on iOS and Android.
Virtual Interview Etiquette
A virtual interview is just like an in-person interview in most ways. In fact, it’s easiest if you think of a Zoom or Skype interview as an in-person interview. Just because the conversation is online doesn’t mean you can skimp out on any of the usual interview expectations.
Still, virtual interviews via Zoom or Skype will feel different. From attire to online behavior, let’s take a deep dive into virtual interview etiquette.
Professional attire isn’t always the most comfortable. And when you’re at home, you’re used to wearing whatever you want, be it exercise shorts, leggings, or pajama pants.
Although it might be tempting to throw on some pajama pants and a nice shirt (since the video usually only displays you from the shirt up), don’t wear them. This is one of the best Zoom interview tips out there.
Not only is it unprofessional, but it could throw you off your game. If you’re used to wearing slacks and blouses during job interviews, but you’re wearing exercise shorts during your virtual meeting, this could throw you off.
You’ll want to dress seriously for a virtual interview so that your subconscious takes it seriously, too.
Follow general rules for interview attire: nothing inappropriate or flashy. You might want to ditch “loud” or ostentatious jewelry and piercings if you can.
Some employers frown upon excessive jewelry or even piercings. Think business casual or professional attire, depending on the job and company.
Another important virtual interview tip: behave as you would during an in-person interview, too.
That means being attentive, responding as clearly and coherently to the questions as you can, and asking the interviewer good questions after the meeting.
9 Tips to Help You Ace Your Virtual Interview
Virtual interviews can be nerve-wracking or even overwhelming at first. Luckily, they don’t have to be. With our virtual interview tips, you’ll be able to relax and feel confident during your online interview.
Here are nine specific tips to help you succeed during your Zoom or Skype interview.
1. Turn off all electronics.
Make sure you shut down all other electronics you won’t be using during the interview. This will ensure that there are no embarrassing or distracting interruptions during the conversation.
If you’re using your laptop to do the interview, go ahead and close all programs and applications. If you know how, disable notifications, just in case.
Plan on giving yourself 20 minutes to do this so you’ll have plenty of time before the interview.
2. Test all the equipment you’ll be using.
Imagine arriving at an in-person interview. You feel confident and prepared, but when the interviewer asks you a question, no sound comes out of your mouth when you try to answer.
Unfortunately, that’s the reality when it comes to virtual interviews via Zoom or Skype. You might accidentally mute yourself or maybe your audio just isn’t working.
Technology can be tricky, so make sure you test all the equipment you’re using.
If you’re on a laptop, both Zoom and Skype allow users to conduct sound and video tests to ensure both your audio and video functions are working correctly.
3. Make sure the area is free of distractions.
When you have a virtual interview, think of it like you’re inviting your future employer into the room with you. The interviewer will likely be able to see the room you’re in, the background, and maybe even some of the floor.
Make adjustments if there are distractions on the wall and pick up stray items from the floor.
You’ll want the room you choose to interview in to be distraction-free for both the interviewer and yourself.
If you’re a parent, make sure the children are out of the room and quiet. If you have pets, ensure they’re taken care of and in a separate room.
4. Don’t “arrive” too early.
If there’s an interview before yours, sometimes joining the meeting can interrupt the previous session.
This isn’t always the case, but it’s certainly a good rule of thumb to arrive on time.
5. Don’t forget that the interviewer can see you.
Unlike phone interviews, nodding and smiling can affect your interview. Feel free to use these nonverbal cues to show the interviewer you’re listening and being attentive.
It’ll help put both of you at ease during the interview.
However, the most important thing to remember here is that you’ll need to look directly into your computer’s webcam. For the interviewer, that’s how you show you’re looking at them.
It’ll feel instinctive to look at yourself or even the interviewer if you can see them, but it’s always best to look right at the camera to make better eye contact.
6. Be conversational and clear.
Try to be as natural and conversational as possible. Even though an interview is a formal meeting, it’s OK to smile or laugh (when appropriate).
Make sure you enunciate your words properly — especially if there’s a chance that your internet connection is spotty or there’s a lag from the other end.
Speak as clearly as possible near the microphone, but be wary of talking too loud and too close to your laptop’s mic.
7. Don’t be afraid to pause.
Even in in-person interviews, “word vomiting” can be a hard thing to avoid. Sometimes, our nerves cause us to talk faster than usual and speak without thinking.
Part of being conversational and clear means taking natural pauses.
If you don’t immediately know how to respond to an answer, it’s OK to take a breath and think before answering.
8. Use notes (but only if you need them).
One of the sneaky advantages of virtual interviews is that you can prepare beforehand and use your notes during the meeting. You might consider printing out your resume or jotting down a few essential experiences you’ll want to mention during the interview.
Of course, only use notes if you genuinely need them and make sure your notes remain off-camera at all times. If you’re reading your notes word for word, the employer might notice you constantly looking off-screen, which might seem strange or distracting.
9. Say thank you (and follow up).
It’s always a great idea to thank an interviewer with a handwritten card (or a simple thank you note via email) after the interview.
Be patient, but consider following up after a week or two to show your interest in the position.