Q: I’ve a big interview coming up. I’m in at 12.15pm – when I say ‘in’, I mean by Zoom. I haven’t done an online interview before – any tips on how to make the Zoom interview work well? It all seems so un-natural. (DD, email).
A: Yes, it doesn’t seem normal, but this scenario may become more commonplace in the future. I don’t know what your routine is for face-to-face interviews, but here are some key points on making the zoom interview work for you, writes Liam Horan, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.
- It’s still an interview. And you must accord it due respect. Clear the decks that morning. Go for a walk, a cycle, a swim or whatever you do. Shower, be fresh and get yourself ready to face the music.
- Whatever clothes you’d wear to a face-to-face interview, you should also wear to this one. And not just above the fold: put on the full suit. It’ll help you get in the zone. And it will also defeat any impression that you see this as ‘only’ a Zoom interview: this is an important engagement in terms of your career advancement.
- Get into the waiting room early (circa ten minutes before kick-off).
- Online, we have to work harder to build rapport. Zoom can be frustrating with people – unwittingly and perhaps even wittingly – speaking over one another, or adopting an overly polite ‘after you; no, after you’ approach.
The standard body language signals we pick up in a face-to-face interview are redundant here. To bridge the rapport deficit and make the Zoom interview work for you, try to use the interviewers’ names here and there (not at the end of every sentence, I hasten to add).
- Listen carefully. It can be easy to drift away online. Close down your browser and any other distractions. Stay focused on the interview. If you don’t, chances are you will try to answer the wrong question or miss an open goal.
- For many, the online interview represents an opportunity to paste loads of prompts on the wall behind their laptop. When working with a client recently, I could see he was preoccupied with something in the mid-distance – I got him to swing his laptop around, and sure enough he had a maze of hieroglyphic scribbles on a noticeboard in front of him.
They included winning lines he wanted to use, references to relevant legislation and sundry other reminders. We agreed that he should pare it back and, on the day, he had just six bullet points – all clearly written. In effect, they amounted to mantras rather than detailed information. Thus liberated, he could communicate more naturally and with greater flow.
- Get your background right. At this stage, we all know the deal when it comes to showing a bare wall or even a snazzy virtual background.
But is that virtual background worth it? If you haven’t a green screen behind you, the background may do some funny things to the contours of your head. Your face could be over-run by the Zoom standard issue Golden Gate Bridge image at any time – best to keep it safe and just get your actual background right.
- As always, the focus should be on showing that you understand the role and demonstrating examples that prove your suitability to fulfil it. That doesn’t change whether you meet them on Zoom or in the company HQ.
Liam Horan is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers in Ballinrobe.
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