Zoom interview pic

As the pandemic spreads with no end in sight, it's prudent to get comfortable with long-distance interviews over Zoom and other video-conferencing services.

In the wake of the pandemic, millions of Americans have filed for unemployment. As the country slowly begins to crawl out of its rock-bottom recession, many may be searching for jobs. Some offices haven’t reopened yet, and those who have may be operating on limited contact. For many on the job hunt, interviews conducted over Zoom are likely.

As America’s shifted to a virtual means of communication, many businesses have been forced to adjust the way they operate. Meetings have been moved primarily online, including interviews for new employees. 

It can be difficult to get the hang of, but these strategies will help one to feel more relaxed, prepared and professional at their next Zoom interview.

Dress appropriately

Many people are stuck inside and lounging in pajamas and sweatpants. Standards of appearance may be significantly lowered for those in quarantine, but it’s important to show potential employers a polished, put-together version of oneself. These outfit guidelines can be helpful in choosing the right clothes for a Zoom interview. Neutral colors are best, and adding simple accessories can add a layer of professionalism to one’s appearance.

Some have tried to get away with a composed look on top while wearing shorts or sweatpants underneath — like this unfortunate ABC reporter — and accidentally revealed the unprofessional bottom half of their outfit. Wearing full business attire or even jeans could prevent embarrassment during video calls.

Create professional surroundings

Many have experienced the frustration of a Zoom call with backlit faces or the distraction of rambunctious children in the background. One advantage to Zoom is that both the employer and the interviewee can adjust their surroundings to ensure a smooth and efficient meeting. On a computer screen, natural light often looks better than an overhead light. Facing the window at an angle can illuminate one’s face and background nicely.

A quiet space is also essential for a Zoom interview. It may help to make sure no one else is in the room and that the noise of television or talking from other rooms isn’t audible where one plans to take the call.

Test the technology

Everyone is learning new things right now, especially businesses newly operating online. However, Zoom is one thing that many potential employers are probably well-versed in by now. 

Sign up for the Madison Business Review Email

If one’s unfamiliar with Zoom, they should try it out with a friend beforehand. Practicing scheduling, starting and joining calls, as well as locating the chat, mute, camera and recording buttons can help save time and embarrassment. It can also relieve some of that pre-interview stress. Becoming familiar with the technology before the big moment can reduce anxiety, help the call run smoothly and improve one’s performance.

Close all other computer applications

Zoom runs best without complications when nonessential applications on the computer are closed. If they aren’t, they can interfere with the video connection and potentially overheat the computer. Additionally, disabling notifications will ensure that the video call won’t be interrupted by loud alerts, which could prove bothersome and embarrassing during an interview.

Plan a professional meeting

To appear professional and prepared, the computer can be placed on a hard, steady surface and positioned so that one’s head and shoulders are centered and in-frame. By placing thought into the setup of the video call, one can demonstrate to potential employers that they’re proactive and prepared.

When used effectively — and not too much — notes can be helpful during an interview. If notes are needed, it may be wise to place them as close to the camera as possible. By doing so, when one needs to refer to notes they won’t have to look down and away from the interviewer.

Practice with a friend

If one’s especially nervous or needs to rehearse, practicing with a friend before the interview can help in many ways. It can prepare one for what they’re going to say and how they’ll answer questions. One can also practice using Zoom and or other technology beforehand. Preparation can significantly reduce anxiety. Anticipating potential interview questions, as well as troubleshooting any technological problems, can calm one’s nerves before the meeting.

Relax — it’s only an interview

These are unusual times, and everyone’s been on a learning curve of some sort over recent months. It may be difficult, but one could think of this as an opportunity to expand their knowledge, adapt a new way of thinking and work creatively together. Becoming familiar with new technology, business operations and ways of life will undoubtedly take time. Those who’re struggling should remember to be patient with themselves in these unprecedented times as they navigate this tricky world of ever-adapting work, learning and lifestyles.

Charlotte Matherly is a junior media arts and design major. Contact Charlotte at mathercg@dukes.jmu.edu.