Five tips for conducting job interviews over Zoom

Video calls have played an important role in recruitment for some time now, with interviews over Zoom and similar platforms providing a convenient way for employers to meet their candidates, often before committing to a face-to-face interview. While this has always been useful in certain cases, to save on time and travel, video interviews have become a necessity for many companies in the last year who have been working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic. We know that interviewing remotely can be daunting and throw up additional challenges, so we’ve devised five top tips to help you become a pro at Zoom job interviews.

Perform a test video call

If you’ve been working from home for any prolonged period of time, there’s a good chance that Zoom meetings, with colleagues and clients, have become a part of the everyday. You’ll also know how frustrating it is when a technical hitch derails an important conversation. Although it’s impossible to eliminate all technical problems, you can reduce the likelihood of running into one by conducting a test call with a colleague on the day of the interview, to check the quality of your sound and video connection. If you’re unfamiliar with the video call software you’ll be using, it’s a good idea to get to grips with how it works beforehand so you appear professional in front of your candidate on the day.

Provide clear instructions

As part of their own preparation, your job applicant should ensure they know how the video conferencing software works and what they need to do to connect to the call. The process for Zoom is simple enough – when you schedule the call, the applicant will be sent an easy-to-follow link in an automated email. Nonetheless, it is prudent and professional to contact them with the details yourself, clarifying the date, time, and details of anything else they need to prepare for the interview. If your candidate hasn’t accepted the invitation to your scheduled call, ask them to confirm that they have received the email. Ensuring both parties know exactly when the interview is set to take place will help the process run smoothly and avoid wasting either yours or your job applicant’s time.

Plan your interview questions

In many ways there is no difference between an interview conducted on Zoom or at your workplace. The challenge the employer faces in any job interview is learning exactly what you need to know about your applicant in a limited amount of time. The questions you ask are always a vital part of this, but even more so when an interview is conducted via video call. Many different aspects will contribute to the way you will form an impression of your applicant, and some of these (like body language) are easier to judge in-person than on-screen. It is also much easier to have a casual discussion when they are physically in front of you. You’ll be limited to how you can interact and what unconscious details you can pick up about your candidate on Zoom, which means you need to make sure you’re asking the right questions to form an accurate impression.

Make sure your setting is suitable

While the traditional office setting might not be available if you’re working at home, you should still ensure your space is as professional as possible. The background that appears on screen during the call should be clean, clear of any potential distractions and well-lit. No one is expecting you to have professional lighting – simply sitting facing a window can make the world of difference in helping make a welcoming first impression. There is also nothing more off-putting for an interviewee than being midway through an answer and being distracted by a loud noise, so do what you can to limit any sounds in the background. If you live near a noisy road or have a busy household, it is considerate to mute yourself while your candidate is talking, so they can stay focused.

Be as professional as you would in the workplace

It is important to give an accurate idea of what your job applicant can expect if they come to work for you. You should act and dress for the interview with the level of formality that you would if you were in the workplace. If your area of work is very formal, you should reflect that in the interview; If it’s more casual, there is nothing wrong with your interview being more relaxed and having an informal conversation. One other point to note is that your candidate will only see you making direct eye contact with them if you look directly at the camera lens. This doesn’t mean you need to look there all the time but occasionally glancing in the direction of the camera will help the person on screen feel more at ease.