HOW TO PREPARE FOR A ZOOM INTERVIEW
“Lindsey, how do I prepare for a Zoom interview?” In the past year, this has become my NUMBER 1 MOST ASKED QUESTION. For those of you that aren’t familiar, I have the unique opportunity to motivate and inspire a team of 13 badass medical sales consultants across 6 states in the Southeast for Johnson and Johnson. I have worked for Depuy Synthes Sports Medicine for almost 14 years and am currently a Senior Regional Manager, leading the Southeast Squad. So, what does that have to do with anything? I have interviewed a lot of people. Zoom interviews are becoming the new norm since the pandemic happened, because they provide a great alternative to meeting face to face. It’s crucial to obviously prepare yourself, but also your environment to ace your next Zoom intervIew. These tips apply to an in-person interview as well!
HOW TO PREPARE FOR A ZOOM INTERVIEW
RESEARCH THE COMPANY
Researching the company is crucial to ensure you are a fit and the hire is a win-win. It also helps you develop questions to ask during the interview. Ideally, you would have completed this step prior to applying, but if not, start now. Truly dive into learning about their values, mission, products/services–and most importantly–their culture. PRO TIP: Make sure you show examples in the interview how your values align with theirs.
DRESS FOR SUCCESS
Although you won’t be meeting in person, traditional interview attire still applies. Aim for professional and polished, avoiding distracting patterns, bright colors, and loud jewelry. Basically, avoid anything that will distract the interviewer. Make sure you test out your outfit (including eyewear) prior to the call to see how it comes across on camera. Steam, iron, and accessorize ahead of time. Lastly, make sure you feel confident styling your hair and applying makeup prior to the interview.
If you are interviewing for a creative-type position, you do have a little more flexibility in what you wear. You will want to show off your personality.
PRO TIP: You do you, boo. Yes, you need to look professional and polished, but you want to feel great about yourself. Look good, feel good (well), interview good (well).
CREATE A PROFESSIONAL VISUAL ENVIRONMENT
After a year of Zoom call after Zoom call, we know how frustrating technical difficulties can be. We also know how distracting certain backgrounds (and noise) can be. Make sure you choose a quiet location, a well-lit area, and a professional-looking (and clean) space. This is not the time to add a beach scene as your Zoom background. However, if you want to hide the room you are in, consider using a more professional virtual background.
- Invest in a ring light. You can find plenty of high quality options on Amazon for less than $30.
- Sit in front of a window, so you are facing the light source. You do NOT want the window behind you. This will make you appear dark on camera.
- Put your camera at eye level and look directly into the lens. Avoid checking yourself out. You want the interviewer to feel you are speaking directly to them, not looking at yourself in the camera. Avoid playing with your hair and again, focus on the other person.
- Top secret tip: Zoom allows you to “touch up your appearance” via the video settings. You’re welcome.
TEST YOUR TECH
Can you hear me? Is my camera working? I can’t get logged in. These are 3 issues I experience every single day on Zoom. That’s why testing your tech prior to the interview is CRUCIAL. It will save you a ton of an anxiety, giving you confidence and a sense of calm when starting the meeting.
- Download the app on your phone and computer ahead of time.
- Create your profile, upload a professional headshot, and add your full name to your Zoom profile. Both will show up when you enter the call, helping you give off a solid first impression. If you have never used Zoom, make sure you familiarize yourself with the quick start-up guide for new users.
- Test your connection speed, video capabilities (my camera never seems to work), and audio prior to the call.
- Set up a meeting with yourself and record yourself speaking to see how you look (and sound) on camera.
- Disable all notifications and limit distractions from email, etc.
PREPARE TO ANSWER (AND ASK!) QUESTIONS
Ok, now to the good part. And perhaps the scariest part. HOWEVER, I promise–if you prepare and follow the steps above–this is the easiest part. Employers typically ask behavioral interview questions to get insight into your past experiences. You want to tell YOUR story and show the interviewer how your past experiences, successes, and failures translate to the role you are interviewing for. Let me repeat that for those in the back…
There are several ways to answer interview questions, but in my opinion, the STAR Method is the best way to answer common behavioral interview questions. This method provides a specific framework that allows you to tell your story in a clear and concise manner.
Remember, practice makes perfect, so once you’ve drafted answers to the common questions, practice answering them aloud in the mirror or better yet on a recorded rehearsal Zoom call. Make sure you address any gaps in your resume and come prepared to answer specific questions about your past experiences, using the STAR method.
CRUCIAL TIP: Come prepared with well-thought out questions about the role, the interviewer, and/or the company. This is not only your time to get answers to any questions you may have, but also help figure out if the company and hiring manager are a good fit for you and your career. Ask about his or her management style, expectations, and culture. Remember, successful job placements need to be a win-win for both the company and the applicant. It’s always a pet peeve of mine when candidates show up without questions of their own.
PRO TIP: CLOSE THE INTERVIEW by asking for next steps or the actual position.
WHAT TO DO DURING THE ZOOM INTERVIEW
You have prepped, prepared, and practiced…now, it’s time to execute. Here are my top tips to ensure the Zoom interview goes smoothly:
- Log in a few minutes early to make sure any technical issues are resolved.
- Speak clearly, and answer the questions concisely. Also, be conscious of your volume. Soft speakers on Zoom are VERY difficult to understand. You obviously don’t want to be screaming, but speak confidently and at a neutral decibel.
- Be cognizant of your facial expressions and body language. Even on Zoom, it is very important to make sure you are engaged and focused on the employer. Look straight into the camera and avoid checking yourself out.
- Show up confidently with a positive and engaging attitude. Now is not the time to blame poor sales on your old boss or former company. Remember, your past experiences will most likely shape how you perform in your new role. I cannot stress this enough: do not blame someone (or something) else for your lack of performance. Take ownership and articulate what you learned from your experiences.
- LISTEN. This one is crucial. Please make sure you listen before you answer, and do not interrupt. Take a second to hear the question being asked and clarify if you are unsure.
WHAT TO DO AFTER THE ZOOM INTERVIEW
Before the call ends, make sure you ask your prepared questions, thank the interviewer, and CLOSE the interview. Don’t forget to ask for their contact information, so you can follow up. Follow up is one of the most important steps, so please do not forget to do this, no matter how uncomfortable it feels. I like to start by thanking them for their time, referring to something I learned (or we laughed about) during the interview, then asking for next steps (or the position). The purpose of the follow up is to further communicate your interest in the position and differentiate yourself from other candidates. Here are some examples of thank you notes to get you started.
Again, the more prepared you are, the more likely you are to ace the interview. The goal of a successful interview is to articulate past experiences to show the employer how your skills will translate to the new role. Remember, you want to differentiate yourself from the other candidates. What can you do to stand out and create a memorable–yet professional–lasting impression? Have questions? Drop them below in the comments and make sure you are following me on Instagram for more career (and fashion!) tips.
SHOP THE POST
Huge shoutout to See Eyewear (voted “Best Eyewear” 76 times in readers’ polls in major US publications from coast to coast) at The Summit for helping me see clearly with these stylish cat eye glasses. They offer eye exams with Dr. Blue, adjustments, styling, and repairs and have a trunk show running through May 2nd. If you are interested in my exact glasses, here are the specs:
Model 6174 Color 4 Matte Tokyo
High index lens
Premium Anti Reflective Coating, which helps with night time driving and reading in dim light. It allows more light to enter the eye, which over all enhances your vision.
Blue Light coating, which filters blue light we get from computer screens and our phones.
Amethyst transition, which offers 100% UV protection.
You can shop the rest of my outfit via the widget above. I post more workwear over on Instagram. Hope to see you over there!
Images by Deidre Ruth Photography