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Zoom and Remote Interviews

Remote interviews and business meetings are becoming more common in today’s workforce. 

But - make no mistake; Zoom interviews are harder to prepare for than regular ones. Although people are used to being on video to family and friends, with a potential employer on the other end there are a few things you need to think about:

First of all - An interview is an interview

Whether you are being interviewed on Skype, over the phone or in person, all the general rules of a job interview apply. Research the company, read the job description thoroughly, know your resume inside out and have a few answers for common interview questions prepared. Just because you are not meeting the interviewer in the flesh doesn't mean any less preparation is involved.

Look the Part

Since you’re not there physically (experts estimate that 90% of the cues we give off are non-verbal), looking the part becomes more important. First, do your research: Check out the company’s website, Facebook page and Twitter feed to get a feel for how employees (and executives) dress and behave, then take your cues from that when prepping for your interview.

Prepare Your Surroundings

Whether your call is video or telephone, do it in a quiet, businesslike setting, ideally in a room with a door.

Look behind you, because that’s what (they’ll) see. A cluttered background may distract your audience, not to mention send the wrong idea of your organizational skills. Also, rid the area of personal items—no need to share too much information. A blank or neutral background is best, with a well-organized desktop. Check to be sure you have enough lighting that doesn't create shadows or throw too harsh a look into your screen.

Be sure to inform anyone else at home about the meeting; you don’t want to be interrupted by a sudden blast of stereo music or someone bellowing your name. 

Practice It First

Your first few video calls are bound to feel awkward as you figure out where to look, what to do with your hands, or how loudly to speak. But it’s easy to work out those kinks ahead of time. Conduct a practice interview with a friend, and record it so that you‘ll have an accurate idea of how you come across on video. 

Don’t Forget to Smile!

At an in-person interview, you’d naturally smile upon arrival, and try to keep a pleasant facial expression for the duration. It’s more difficult to do this with a remote interview. You need to develop a rapport with the interviewer as quickly as possible. Think about your non-verbal communication: make lots of eye contact, smile and sit up straight. Roll your shoulders back and down so that you have good posture, open your chest and speak clearly.

Smiling is the best way to break the ice and develop rapport with your interviewer. And on the phone, your smile will come through even though the interviewer can’t see you. Of course, it’s difficult to smile sitting alone in a room. Just before the call, loosen up by smiling before a mirror, or call a friend who never fails to make you laugh. If you need to, hang a silly picture or Post-it note on the wall (out of camera range) to remind you to stay upbeat.

Also, look into the camera, not into the screen, to make ‘eye contact.’

Timing is everything

Another tip is to avoid talking over your interviewer – especially if there’s a slight time lag between you because of the online connection. That’s a general rule, of course, but wait until you're sure they have finished speaking. And take it slowly – don't hurry out the words.

Stay Present

Ever heard of active listening? Especially with a phone interview, it’s important to give the other caller periodic clues that you’re still there. After all, do you like speaking into silence?

Go Ahead and Cheat

One advantage to a video or phone interview is that you don’t have to remember everything you want to mention.

You can have notes in front of you—without your interviewer knowing. Place your CV in front of you, news about the company, questions you want to ask and potential talking points. Of course, you don’t want to be reading off the page verbatim, so make sure you’re familiar with your material, and keep your notes in an easily scannable format to get what you need at quick glance.

Don’t become distracted by your own image

A lot of people may find the small image of themselves in the corner of the chat window distracting. You don’t want to be looking at yourself instead of the interviewer the entire time. To fix this, change your settings to disable your image showing up or simply cover up your image with a Post-It note.

Address Tech Problems Immediately

When you’re relying on video or phone equipment, there’s a good chance you’ll experience a technical glitch: a weak connection, interference or garbled signals. You may hesitate to draw attention to the problem, but you don’t want to give an inaccurate answer because you didn’t understand the question. A simple “excuse me?” works fine. But if the problem persists, bring it up. If you’re getting too many blips, it’s good to stop the call (and redial). The future employers may take away that you’re a problem-solver, and you would provide top-quality service if employed by them. Not to mention that fixing this kind of issue is just plain polite.

Have a plan B 

While there's no worry you'll be held up by a late train, or get lost finding the right building, there is always the potential for technical issues. Make sure you know who is making the call and sign in early. 

Download Skype well in advance of the interview and make sure you have a practice call to a friend to iron out any issues. Also, where possible, use headphones and a microphone to conduct the interview: this helps prevent feedback. If you can't hear your interviewer, let them know so they can try to fix the problem. Honesty is the best policy if you have issues. If you can't sort it out, suggest rearranging the call or using a phone for the audio, and Skype for the video.