Feb 23

How To Smash A Zoom/Teams Virtual Interview

More and more organisations are moving to running their recruitment and selection online, so it’s very prudent to consider a few points in your preparation if you are to maximise your chance of success. Like everything in life, and especially for interviews, diligent preparation is key.

Here are a few points that we at bselected think are essential.

Prepare Your Environment

Choose a spot for your interview where you can control the surroundings. If at all possible, take the video interview in your own home, but anywhere quiet with a good internet connection is a viable option and may well be better option than a busy household.

Think through what else is going to be going on near you at the time of the interview. Avoid noisy or busy areas, and if you can, check out the area at the same time the day before your interview for any unwelcome interference from kids, pets or partners!

Clear your desk or table of distractions, and only keep what you’d have at an in-person interview: a glass of water and something to take notes with. You need to be fully present. Don’t have your phone out next to you for example.

Optimise the lighting. Natural light from a window is ideal, whereas fluorescent or tungsten lights can be unflattering and distracting for the assessors. Facing your light source is always better than having it at your back (which creates shadows), but check for glare from your glasses, watch, or jewellery.

If you can, invest or borrow a lighting ring as these can significantly improve how you will look on camera. But if you wear glasses be aware of the reflection of the ring that may be seen in your lenses. You can buy a cheap light ring here:

Prepare the Technology

Check your internet and wi-fi connection. If you can hardwire your router to your computer with an ethernet cable, you should. Every precaution on stopping technical issues should be taken and will help reduce the unnecessary stress on the day.

Make sure that at the time of your interview, use of the internet is at a minimum by those in the house. You really don’t want things to grind to a buffering halt due to the kids (or husband) playing Minecraft or Pro Evolution Soccer.

How you sound is also hugely important. The assessors will need to be able to hear you with appropriate volume and clarity. It is very frustrating as an assessor if candidates sound muffled, quiet or the sound is variable. And remember, if assessors can’t hear you, they can’t mark you appropriately.

Using headphones helps prevent weird echoes and feedback from your computer, and if your headphones have a microphone on them, that will make it easier for the assessors to hear you, but make sure the mic isn’t rubbing against your shirt or banging against your necklace throughout the interview. This can sound VERY LOUD and annoying and you will most likely be unaware of it.

In my opinion, avoid giant over-the-ear headphones or gaming headsets, or at least consider the visual aesthetic you’re creating by wearing them. You are probably not a pilot or a DJ.

To optimise how you sound, we would certainly advise buying or borrowing a good external microphone. They make a significant difference and are a good investment. You can pick up one for around £50. Have a look here.

Set Up the Camera & Shot

Set up your computer so that the camera is close to eye level. If you have to use your phone, prop it up on a stack of books. You’ll avoid that shaky handheld effect, and the extra height will get the camera at the right angle. You certainly don’t want the unflattering ‘up the nose’ shot.

Put the window with the interviewer in it as close to the camera as possible, to help you mimic eye contact with the interviewer. This can make a huge difference to how you come across.

If you are using multiple monitors place the one with the camera on it straight ahead of you so you’re not turning your body or looking away from the interviewer. You can also use the multiple monitors to show your notes or motivational quotes. However, we don’t really advise this as inevitably you end up reading from them and all authenticity is removed from your delivery. Remember, as we say at bselected you need to “be more normal!”

Frame your shot as closely to an in-person interview as you can. So, don’t sit too close to the screen – you need your head and shoulders visible. A good rule of thumb is to leave 10-20% of the screen empty above your head. You won’t be tiny, but you also won’t cut yourself off accidentally by sitting up straighter or gesturing.

There is also good evidence to say that this is needed in order to show your non-verbal communication. Unlike a phone interview, body language is still important in a video interview. Try not to lean in as this can make you look too large and close on the interviewer’s screen. Instead, sit up straight, and smile and nod to show you’re paying attention.

Choose a simple background with no distractions or choose a virtual background, again as plain as possible. These are relatively easy to set up in Zoom or Teams but will usually mean there is a ‘shadow” effect unless you have a proper green screen. So, weigh up what you think is best for you.

In our opinion it really helps to turn your own view off. You may be super good looking, but you know that already and don’t need a reminder for the 60 minutes of your interview.

My Interview Set Up

Test the Technology

Now that you have everything set up, it’s vital to test it all. Test your audio, video, and internet connection using the same software as the interview will be run on (usually Zoom or Teams).

If you do not already have the appropriate software set up on your computer, do it now. You do not want to be downloading any required software on the day of the interview. There is only one outcome there – stress.

Set up a call with a friend and make sure the other person can hear you and there’s nothing distracting them in the frame and ask them to tell you if your gestures or body language look awkward on camera. Ideally do your test run this at the same time as your board will take place.

If you plan to show your CV, are required to do a PowerPoint presentation or share your screen for any reason, make sure you know how to do it. And don’t forget to ensure there is nothing embarrassing on your desktop screen or in any browser tabs, not that you would – you are far too professional.

You need to leave nothing to chance so also consider downloading the software on to a second device, such as your phone, and practise using it on there too, in case your computer fails or starts to do the very helpful ‘updating software’ at the crucial moment.

And please, change the name that will appear on screen to your own – not Grandma’s iPad or similar!

Final Preparation

Practice with a friend or family member beforehand – a lot. You do not want to be speaking your answers for the first time on the day. In my opinion you will certainly stumble over your words if you have not practiced. Not a good way to influence your assessors.

On the day dress professionally from head to toe. You’ll feel and act more effective if you’re not wearing those baggy grey jogging bottoms, however comfy they are and avoid jewellery that makes a lot of noise or is visually distracting.

And Most Importantly

Remember nothing changes in the way you should prepare for the interview and how you prepare your answers. Don’t forget about things you would ordinarily do. Research your interviewer, the company, the wider business context and of course know your own CV inside out.

It’s still just a competency-based assessment at the end of the day. You still need to prepare your competency-based answers with the appropriate Content, Structure and Delivery – the bselected 3 pillars of success. This is the only way to really maximise you chance of success.

And remember, smile! You’re on camera!

bselected offer a range of coaching options to help you ‘b’ the best you can be at your interview or assessment centre. To find out more give us a call on 0161 327 2126 – we are always happy to chat and guarantee that we will make a significant difference to your interview technique.