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‘The New Normal’: Latte’s Tips on How to Nail Your Zoom Interview

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Video interviews are the new normal in this COVID-19-constant-lockdown world we’re living in. Interviews in themselves can induce a lot of anxiety, but when you throw technology in the mix, you’re adding to the list of things to worry about. During this past year, Latte has become experts on how to navigate this video-technology, and what the person on the other side is looking for.

Get rid of distractions

Working from home can be difficult, especially if you have young children or pets. If you have an interview arranged, make sure you have something in place so that no one will come barging in unexpected – this can ruin the flow for both you and the interviewer.

Even small things like mobiles or deliveries can throw you off your game. In face-to-face interviews, distractions are shared but over Zoom, the hiring manager won’t know that there’s a knock at your door or a call coming through on your phone. You could potentially miss an important question or an opportunity to resonate back and highlight your relevant experience. Turn off these notifications, set up a quiet, distraction-free area and maybe leave a note to your delivery-person that you won’t be available at X time and not to knock.

Your background is an important accessory

In normal times, you would make a conscious effort in your choice of outfit for your interview, right? And you will likely have done something similar for this video-call (we won’t tell them that you’re wearing pyjama bottoms with that freshly ironed shirt). Don’t let your background spoil your appearance.

There are two ways that you can tackle your background. One is to keep it simple: a plain wall with nothing in the view is a simple and neutral background. The other (and more interesting) option is to create a background that says something about you.

Depending on the role that you’re interviewing for, it may be worth making your background at least appear to resemble a home-office if you’re applying for a remote position. This subtly communicates that you’ve spent time and resources in creating a space that allows you to work efficiently.

Pay attention to lighting

By no means do you need to invest in a professional light kit, but you do need to think about how you can utilise natural light from your windows to project a clear and detailed image of your face. Overhead lights can often be unflattering and can affect the quality of the image in your video.

Practice before your interview to see where the lighting is best. With computer cameras, backlighting never works so avoid putting the light source behind you.

Wear headphones

As you will be well aware, I’m sure, technology isn’t perfect. There’s a chance there will be lag on your call, which causes an echo if you’re not wearing headphones. Wearing headphones also improves sound quality and helps with blocking out those distractions we mentioned earlier.

Be on time (set alarms!)

Pre-COVID, we would advise to turn up to your place of interview 10-15 minutes early. However, the rules are different for video-interviews. If you log in early, you are likely to be met with a blank screen for 15 minutes which, if you’re anything like me, allows your brain to start overthinking and cause you more anxiety before the interview.

You obviously don’t want to be late, either. Leaving a hiring manager waiting is a bad look and won’t start the interview off on the right foot (that being said, if you have a genuine reason as to why you will be late please, for the love of God, let them know in good time).

To be on the safe side, set an alarm 10 minutes before and 1 minute before the scheduled time. When the 10-minute alarm goes off, ensure you’re at your interview space and go over any notes you may have. At the 1-minute alarm, log on.

Test your technology

In the past year, we have hosted many Zoom / Google Hangouts / Microsoft Teams interviews, and I can ensure you that people are forgiving when it comes to tech issues. If you’re not versed in the technology that is being used, it’s good practice to do a test run with a friend. You may find small issues like you need to allow permission for the app to use your mic/video.

Don’t panic if tech isn’t your thing. Here is our checklist if your tech isn’t working:

  • Move closer to your router if your connection is poor (try and test this before your actual interview so the hiring manager doesn’t get a tour of your flat).
  • Always assume your camera is on, even when you’ve turned it off.
  • Check that both your speakers and mic are turned on.
  • Use the chat feature to inform the interviewer if you can’t hear them.

If you would like more help with your interview prep, we offer a 1-1 service where we can give you personalised guidance on how to nail your next PR and comms interview. Please click here to find out more.

Keep an eye on our website and social media pages as we will be providing more content in the coming weeks to help you go into your interviews with your best foot forward.

Written by Chantelle Brown, PR Recruitment Consultant – Latte

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