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The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to completely alter our daily lives over the past year. One of the ways our society has shifted is the switch to Zoom interviews. Safety protocols forced us to acclimate, but make no mistake, Zoom interviews are here for the long haul. And they’re a bit different from in-person meetings, so it’s critical that you’re aware of the differences and prepare accordingly.

Social distancing is continuing in 2021 and possibly beyond that, so if you’re on the job hunt this year there’s a very good chance that you’re going to meet with your potential employer over the computer. The team here at Carter Recruiting and Associates has assisted many job seekers with Zoom over the past year. As an employment agency, we are dedicated to helping workers in Arkansas an all across the United States with strengthening their skills and career through our blog content.

With that being said, we put together a list of ten helpful tips that’ll make sure you crush your Zoom interview in 2021.

What is Zoom?

Before getting into the details of improving your interviewing skills, it’s good to know exactly what the platform is.

Zoom is a video conferencing platform that allows users to communicate from remote locations. It’s quite similar to Skype, but a little bit more formal and used much more frequently in the work industry. While the two are in the same niche, Zoom operates a bit differently from Skype, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the platform long before your interview begins.

#1. Make your space distraction free

You don’t need children, pets, or technology disturbing you during the interview, as it’ll greatly disrupt the flow. Before the interview begins, take some time to find a quiet space in your home that’s free from distractions. We normally recommend our clients to pick a bedroom, a home office, or a spare room that’s away from the busy areas of the house.

#2. Set up a clean and professional background

While it’s easy to distract yourself, it’s also easy to disrupt the person or people interviewing you. A busy background will not only take the interviewer out of the moment, but it’ll also not be something they’ll be particularly impressed with. Make sure the background is simple, and doesn’t include a lot of movement or noise.

#3. Do a practice interview with a friend

Before the real deal begins, get on Zoom with a friend and have them ask you some standard questions. The overall vibe and flow of an interview from your computer is a little different than in person, so you need to be comfortable with this. During this trial run, tell your friend to notice the lighting, audio and video quality, if you’re smiling enough or too much, and if you’re fidgeting or not. A second opinion will not only give you some helpful feedback, but it’ll also make you feel more prepared and you’ll be more confident heading into the interview.

If you notice any audio issues during the practice round, use this helpful audio guide to get you back on track.

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#4. Use a virtual background if necessary

One of our favorite newer features on Zoom is the virtual background selection, a great resource for those who have messy rooms and distracting backgrounds. Before your interview, run through this section of Zoom and find a background that looks simple and professional. They have several stock images for you to choose from so you don’t have to search for any.

#5. Make the “mute” button your best friend

You never when an interruption will occur on your end. For coughing fits, sneezes, screaming babies, TV noises, doorbells and so on, keep that mute button on hand. It’ll save you a ton of trouble and won’t disrupt the flow of the interview.

#6. Shut down all other programs on your computer

So many people forget this, but it’s an important one — especially if you usually have a slower connection at home than most people. Not only will open programs slow down your connections, but you never know when a loud chime or notification will come around and take you out of the interview.

#7. Carefully consider your outfit choice

Just like a normal interview, the wardrobe selection is crucial. Just because you’ll be in the comforts of home doesn’t mean you should get comfortable and wear pajamas and house shoes. A professional outfit will not only make you look prepared and committed to the interview, but it’ll also help you out from a psychological standpoint. You’ll feel in a much more professional headspace.

#8. Prepare some talking points

Grab some sticky notes and write down stories, your work strengths, questions you’d like to ask about the company, and other points you’d like to mention in the interview. Place the sticky notes on the side of your screen so you can easily see them without turning your head too far and taking yourself out of the conversation. This’ll help you be more on track and you’ll feel a little more confident if you do this.

#9. Focus your eyes on the webcam, NOT the screen

One of the biggest mistakes our recruiting agency has noticed is many people watch the screen the entire time, instead of looking into the webcam. Watching your screen makes it appear that you aren’t fully engaged in the conversation, and you’re looking at other websites while on the call. Make you’re sure you’re looking at the green light next to your laptop or computer webcam. This’ll make it seem like you’re making eye contact with the interviewer, and you’ll appear more engaged.

#10. Use a simple and professional username

Far too often we see job seekers use a crazy Zoom username that only hurts their chances of getting the job offer. Do not give your interviewer a reason to be taken out of the interview process, and don’t overthink the username part. It’s best to use just base it around your first and last name.

Back in 2020 when the pandemic first began, we wrote a blog with other helpful tips, most of which are different the ones above. Click here to check it out.

We hope this helps you feel more prepared and comfortable with your Zoom interview. If you have any questions or if you’re interested in getting more assistance with your job search, Carter Recruiting is here for you! Contact us by phone at (501) 812-5627, or reach out to our owner Cherie by email at cherie@crecruits.com.

If you are an employer and you see that you are going to have to lay-off employees due to the COVID-19 pandemic, please feel free to reach out to us about our outplacement services. This service can help your displaced employee with everything from resume writing, cover letters, and job search and interview techniques. We have over 20 years of experience assisting workers all across Arkansas and the US.

Interested in more about outplacement? Reach out to us by phone at 501-812-5627 and we can give you a quote or pricing for this service.

Carter Recruiting and Associates is one of the largest independent recruiting and outplacement companies in Arkansas. Our headquarters, located in Little Rock and our satellite office in Conway, both service accounts nationwide. We have satisfied clients and references from some of the largest companies in the state. With over 50 collective years of experience in the recruiting business, we have a vast amount of resources and knowledge to ensure a job well done.

Cherie Richardson

Cherie Richardson

Cherie is the owner and president of Carter Recruiting and Associates. She holds a BA in psychology from the University of Mississippi and has over 30 years of experience in the recruitment of executive and manufacturing professionals. Cherie’s work has been instrumental for new plant start-ups, as well as building and maintaining relationships throughout the region and state of Arkansas. She is a member of the National Association of Female Executives and the National Association of Women Business Owners.