When you’re interviewing virtually, there are some things you should do—and things you shouldn’t—if you want to make the best impression. Companies are shifting from in-person to remote interviews, so it’s important to be ready to interview by video call. In a recent survey of talent leaders and recruiters conducted by tech firm Talview, 80% of respondents said their hiring process is fully remote, while 39% have increased their use of video conferencing software, like Zoom, for the interview process.
That’s good news if you’re looking for work, because you can interview for jobs from the comfort of home. However, virtual interviewing comes with its own set of challenges, especially if you’re not used to meeting remotely. It’s all too easy to get flustered by the technology and forget to mind the details that make the difference between a so-so interview and one that clinches a job offer.
To increase your chances of making a good impression and getting the job, there are certain mistakes you should avoid before and during Zoom interviews.
1. Coming to the Interview Late
When it comes to job interviews, if you’re not early, you’re late. This is doubly true for Zoom interviews. Jump on the call a few minutes early, and you won’t have to worry about last-minute technical difficulties derailing your effort. There’s nothing worse than starting a job interview stressed out and distracted.
Always confirm your interview details before the day of your meeting to make sure you’re on time and prepared.
2. Not Practicing With the Technology Beforehand
Speaking of technical difficulties, you can avoid many of them by making sure you’re comfortable with the software ahead of time. Be sure to download Zoom and get in at least one practice interview before the real event. You’ll feel more at ease during the conversation and more resilient if other technical issues come up.
3. Failing to Gather Your Materials
Once you’re seated in front of your computer, you should be able to reach everything you need to carry out a successful interview. Make sure you have all your interview materials, i.e. your resume, references, portfolio, etc., and that you’re comfortable and ready to speak.
Although you shouldn’t eat or drink during the conversation, you should have a glass of water at the ready in case of emergency. (Interview nerves can cause dry mouth, so it’s better to take a sip of water than to cough your way through the meeting.)
4. Choosing the Wrong Outfit
If you’ve been accustomed to being at home in sweats or pajamas for an extended period, it might be hard to remember what professional attire even looks like. As a quick refresher, business attire or business casual attire is usually the best bet for job interviews. A suit, sport coat, button-down, or nice sweater are safe bets. Try to peg your outfit to the company’s culture as you understand it, but do dress up a bit, even if employees keep it super-casual.
Remember that whatever you choose should show well on camera as well as be professional. Avoid stripes, extremely bright colors, or wearing the same shade as your background.
Even if the interviewer can’t see the lower half of your body, it’s a good idea to wear appropriate attire. You’ll conduct yourself more professionally and avoid showing off your pajama pants if you need to stand up for some reason.
5. Interviewing in a Messy Space
Zoom allows you to choose a default background image or upload your own photo, so it’s totally possible to interview amid a pile of dirty laundry and unfiled papers while appearing as if Marie Kondo has just optimized your entire life.
However, even if you decide to go with a digital background, it’s still a good idea to tidy up before your job interview. Why? Research shows that your work environment affects your mental health and decision-making ability. In short, a serene workspace promotes peace of mind.
6. Distracting the Interviewer With These Habits
Perhaps the worst Zoom interview mistake you can make is to indicate through your behavior and mannerisms that you’re not interested in what the interviewer is saying. Unfortunately, this is easier to do than you might think.
Little gestures can make a big impact. Fidgeting with your hair or your clothes, checking your phone (yes, even off-screen), or staring at yourself instead of connecting with the interviewer—all of these can make it seem like you’re disconnected or distracted.
7. Not Carrying on a Real Conversation
Even when they’re conducted in person, job interviews can feel like interrogations. The interviewer asks questions; you answer them. You ask questions; the interviewer answers them. Rinse, repeat. Video technology can exacerbate this problem by shrinking your visual field down to two screens and ratcheting up the tension with the threat of technical difficulties.
To overcome these issues, remind yourself that a good job interview is a conversation—no more and no less. You and the interviewer are not on opposing sides, but on the same team, working together toward a common goal.
Focus on listening instead of waiting for your chance to speak. You’ll demonstrate a valuable soft skill as well as communicating better and learning more about the job. Best of all, you’ll make a more positive impression on the hiring manager, which is essential to helping you land the job.
How to Make the Best Impression
Practice makes perfect: This may not always be the case, but if you take the time to ensure you’re prepared and your technology is working properly, the interview will be much less stressful.
Get set ahead of time: Don’t wait until the last minute to set up your interview space, clear away the clutter, and get your interview clothes ready.
Pay attention: It can be hard when you’re interviewing remotely, so remember to listen carefully to the questions and focus on your interviewer.