As we reach the end of 2020, there is a good chance you have taken part in more Zoom calls than you ever thought possible. Much like the growing casualness of work-from-home wear, appearances on Zoom are starting to lose their professional vibe. If you are looking to land a new job in 2021, now is the time to rethink what your Zoom presence says about you.
Set the Scene – Keep in mind that the camera is catching more than just you. When deciding on your interview spot, assess the layout. Are there piles of dirty dishes lying in the background or views of a less-than-tidy bedroom or closet? Make a visual sweep of the area before conducting the interview or meeting. For a fool-proof solution, download a free version of Zoom prior to the interview and practice. Ask others what they see in the background and make changes as needed.
Keep it Quiet – A job interview is already a potentially stressful situation, so do your best to find a quiet place that is free from distractions. This might mean moving to a back room to avoid street traffic and closing the door, so pets and other family members don’t make an unexpected appearance mid-interview. Place electronics on silent and let others know you will be engaged for at least 30 minutes on either side of the interview time. The quiet can be also a great way to center yourself and feel more prepared beforehand.
Choose Appropriate Attire – An interview on Zoom should receive the same consideration as an in-person interview. That means choosing an outfit that you would wear to an in-person interview. Dressing up connotates respect and can also be a great mental boost, especially if you have been keeping things casual in lounge wear.
Test your Internet Connection – Before the big day, make sure your internet connection is strong. In preparation, close out any extra browsers on your computer. This will help increase bandwidth and eliminate unnecessary distractions. If you have others who are also trying to use the internet, ask them to stop their use during the interview. Streaming of videos, movies, Netflix and gaming place a strain on bandwidth and increase the potential for a choppy connection.
Arrive Prepared – Just as you would for an in-person job interview, have your career resume and referrals in front of you and easy to access. Also have a pad of notepaper and a pen to take notes old school-style throughout the call. Avoid using your phone for notetaking because it could look like texting during the interview. Let the interviewer know that you will be taking notes, so it is clear why you’ll be looking off-camera at times.
Heads Up – Although it feels odd, resist looking at the screen as you speak. Instead look at the camera, which provides a more confident appearance. The nature of video calls can also make it difficult to see the same cues as you might in an in-person conversation. Pause when in doubt and always let the interviewer finish talking before you begin.
Send Thanks – Following the interview, send a thank you note. This can be an electronic email, or a snail mail paper thank you note. Either version will be appreciated by the interviewer.