Face-to-face or Zoom interview – which is better?

Q: Now that COVID-19 restrictions are fast vanishing, what would your preference be for interviews in the long If you were called for one tomorrow, would you prefer to go face-to-face in a room or take the Zoom option, if offered? I have seen some cases lately where both options were made available. As I am about to embark upon job searching myself, I would appreciate your thoughts. (DR email).

A: A very appropriate question at this time, DR, and one that I suspect is currently occupying the minds of HR departments, recruiters and employers.

If I were about to go to interview, I am pretty sure I would opt for the face-to-face option if both were available, unless there was a prohibitive distance involved, or if time was unusually tight. Here are the main reasons why I think physical remains better than virtual:

  1. Building rapport is crucial in an interview. Apart from your technical abilities, it’s good if they actually like you. It is easier to build rapport when we can communicate with more than just our face on a screen and our voice. Our mannerisms, our shake or bump of the hands, how we generally interact with the panel, all help to build rapport.
    Even the walk down the corridor beforehand, where you chat to the person sent out to bring you in, can help. That person may well say afterwards,” she was a nice woman to chat to”. These little, seemingly insignificant, moments, can influence an interview panel. Sometimes the margins are slim.
  2. I think the act of going to an interview helps to focus the mind. I know from working with clients during the pandemic that they sometimes took the Zoom interview a little for granted: not getting dressed properly on time, rushing a bit at the last minute and even wondering whether they should dress up at all. When we go to an interview, we know we must get in the zone and the drive or the public transport to the venue promote the kind of focus you need.
  3. By and large, interview panels are ‘face-to-face people’. While there has been a change or a move towards online in the last couple of years, nearly all of us were reared on face to face. I always believe in complementing what the panel like to do. It’s a subconscious thing, but I believe the fact that you took the time to turn up, and that they could then get a better feeling for you could all score a few points – a few points that might go a long way in the final analysis. And, as I always say to clients, every point you can score in an interview is invaluable.
  4. Face to face, you won’t suddenly mute yourself, or your dog won’t jump up on the couch behind you, or your other half won’t come thundering into the room to relay some breathless news. There are fewer barriers in a physical interview.

So, it’s face to face for me. On many occasions, both won’t be available, particularly in early-stage/screening interviews. The savvy companies are using video conferencing to shorten long lists. This whole area will remain in a state of flux for the next few years, I believe.


Featured image courtesy of Pixabay.


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