The digital age is undeniably upon us, and navigating the boom of Zoom is a prospect foreign to many. The new digital landscape can really be used to your advantage, as you are able to interview from the comfort of your own home, transgress geographical barriers, broaden your job search beyond commutable distances, and ultimately find the right role for you. We’re here to equip you with the skills to truly thrive in the digital job market.
In a moment where you are limited to a screen to showcase your personality, skills and professionalism – what happens in that small square box really counts! There are a number of areas you can hone in on, to ensure that you give the best possible digital impression.
Tip-top Top Half
With little to visually represent yourself aside from the top half of your outfit, you need to make sure that the top half looks presentable, professional and well put together. Your bottom half can be slippers, leggings, pyjama bottoms, or whatever makes you feel your most comfortable – and most confident! But ensure that your top half is tip-top, and your pyjamas are nowhere to be seen.
Lights, Camera, Action
Lights – Your interviewer needs to clearly see your face and facial expressions, in order to establish that all-important rapport. To highlight yourself with a well-lit personable glow, your source of light needs to be in front of you. Sit facing a window, or put a desk lamp behind your screen.
Camera – Prior to the interview, check your WIFI connection, ensure that your camera and microphone are both functioning well, and familiarise yourself with the video call platform. By eliminating any possibility for technological issues, you will be able to focus solely on building rapport and showcasing yourself.
Action (or no action) – It is hard to demonstrate your ability to focus when you’re shooing pets away from your camera angle, or your knack for managing people when stray household members insist on bursting in the room. A quiet separate space, with a no interference guarantee, will help you to get in the zone and bring the best out of you.
Tidy house, Tidy job?
We all know tidy house, tidy mind, but we never anticipated that to gain success in the current job market, tidying our house could be the key. Attempting to sell your organisational skills and attention to detail with a backdrop of socks strewn across the room is a losing battle. A tidy space will not only look better, but make you feel better, and help you to relax in your performance.
Zoom also has a feature that will give you an artificial background, replacing your surroundings with a wide scope of backdrops. Choose an appropriate, professional backdrop, rather than anything too obscure or zany. For your own peace of mind, don’t leave it until the last minute to play around with these features, acclimatise yourself with it beforehand and double check that it works.
Eyes up, Back straight
Eye contact is one of the most significant ways to connect, engage and build rapport with the person you are speaking to. Studies have proven that eye contact can make you appear more honest, more self-assured, and be more memorable. Replicating this over Zoom is vital, your eyes must be level with the camera on your laptop and you should talk into the camera lens instead of the screen. If you find this difficult, put a photo or a post-it note (with whatever your heart desires on it) next to the lens of your camera, this will feel less alien than speaking to a screen.
Body language is another key element that we need to transfer into the digital space, by replicating the body language of the onscreen interviewees. Generally you should sit up straight, look comfortable and confident in yourself, but without seeming sloppy and relaxed. Make sure it doesn’t look like you’re lounging at home in your slippers.
Prep, prep, and even more prep
You should approach a Zoom interview with the same level of preparation deemed necessary for a face-to-face interview. Prepare your answers to key interview questions, understand how to showcase the skills rooted in your experience, and have a working example ready for each duty detailed in the job description. Consider key projects that you have worked on, and identify within them all of the attributes, skills and experience that the new job requires. Keep your answers clear and concise. Do your research on the company, get to grips with the terminology that they use, and read up on any material that they have published. Prepare responses for topical questions too, they may ask your opinion on current events.
Take the time to practice interviews with friends and family to overcome feeling awkward when talking into the screen. Make the most of the digital tools available to you, pre-record yourself in the interview format, and revise it to find areas of improvement, elements that you could embellish or condense down to be more concise. You have the opportunity to practice, to assess yourself and to do it again.
Use notes – but don’t let them be noticed!
One of the biggest advantages of digital interviews is the ability to have notes outside of camera view. Keep them simple, preferably in bullet points, and try to use them only as reference points and brief reminders. Make a list of good questions to ask the interviewer at the end, questions that demonstrate your interest in the company, your desire for self-development, and that have the capacity to draw something new out of the conversation. You want to bring the best out of them, as well as yourself, in order to have the most effective exchange of the day.
A short bullet point list of ‘Must say things by the end of the interview’ can also be helpful, to ensure that you cover all the elements that you wish to showcase. Don’t leave the video interview until all of the key points you wanted to say have been covered.
Rather than using other laptops or screens for these notes, that come with obvious distractions of scrolling, clicking and fixed eye points, we suggest having hard copies of key notes pinned up in multiple areas of your vision, as close to the camera lens as possible. Try not to group them all in one area, as your eyes will fixate there.
Right On Time
The interviewer will email the video call details to you prior to the scheduled interview time. Don’t be late for your Zoom interview, make sure you are ready and waiting for the video call details, in the appropriate surroundings, with your pinned up notes and a glass of water.
Having The Edge
Even during the interview, push yourself to really utilise the virtual tools that you have at your fingertips. You can make yourself stand out by sharing your screen and directing them to your LinkedIn profile, using your LinkedIn as a guide to talk through the experience you have, or even showing them your LinkedIn recommendations.
You could create a presentation and share your screen, walking them through your experience and directly connecting it to the skills required for the role. Another creative idea is to share videos from your reference contacts, featuring content that confirms your experience and gives a glowing character report.
If you follow these tips, you are sure to be prepared, self-assured and confident ahead of your video interview, and able to present the best version of yourself. The primary function of these interviews is to assess whether you will fit in with the team, being prepared allows you to be comfortable within yourself, to establish that rapport, and to actually enjoy the process. Always remember that you are also assessing if the team and role seem right for you.