How to Nail a Zoom Job Interview (25+ Zoom Interview Tips and Tricks) [2020]

Zoom interviews might be here to stay. Or at least any video interview or remote interview session. Getting familiar with the tips that are required to nail a remote interview is critical in ensuring that you increased your odds of getting an employment offer by the hiring manager.

Here are the ways to ensure that you have a fantastic Zoom job interview in the future.

zoom interview

What's a Zoom Interview?

A Zoom interview is similar to any other job interview. More similar to a face-to-face interview rather than a phone interview. A phone interview is an interview that qualifies the candidate for the position. While a Zoom interview replaces the need to have to be in the same geography in order to perform a job interview.

When being invited to a Zoom interview, consider this the formal job interview. It's often that a Zoom interview is requested when the hiring manager and interviewee cannot be in the same vicinity. Recently, Zoom interviews have gained popularity due to the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.

Zoom Interview Guidelines

Below are best practices to follow when entering a Zoom or Skype interview as a job seeker.

  • Be sure you have Zoom Video Communications installed on your computer in advance of your meeting.
  • Create a test meeting, and be sure you know how to enter a meeting.
  • Turn on your video camera and find the perfect place to speak to the recruiter or manager regarding the job opportunity.
  • Be sure your internet connection is active and ready to take on the bandwidth of a video call.
  • Treat your zoom interview like a regular interview.
  • Educate yourself on who you’ll be speaking with. What is their role? What are they working on? Who do they work with?
  • Educate yourself on the company leadership, values, ethics, and more.
  • Be prepared to ask the interviewer questions related to the role, business, and job opportunity.
  • Prepare for all behavioral and job-specific interview questions that the hiring manager might ask in the zoom Zoom interview.
  • Be sure to follow up with your interviewer by email after the video interview is completed to show your interest in the position.

Before we dig into these, let’s cover what Zoom Video Communications is.

Zoom Video Communications

Zoom is a virtual video conferencing software or video conferencing tool. It allows two people to speak to one another virtually. You’ll need to install the software on your Mac or PC and ensure that your computer camera is properly connected to the software in order to perform the online interview.

Zoom may ask you to sign up for a Zoom account, which means it is vital that you spend time in advance of your Zoom meeting to get prepared for your upcoming meeting.

Zoom Interview Tips

Below are the best zoom interview tips to prepare for an upcoming video chat or video interviewing session with a hiring manager. These best practices apply to those applying for a full-time job, part-time job, or internship.

These zoom interview tips apply to those using Skype, as well. Or any other video calls where a candidate is being interviewed for a job (for example, Google Hangout).

Know the Interviewer or Hiring Manager

Having an idea of who the interviewer is can be extremely helpful when interviewing. It can assist in the process of starting the initial Zoom interview as well as helping to make the interviewer sound more prepared. When the hiring manager or HR manager sets up the interview, the name of the interviewer is provided in the calendar invite. From there, a job applicant and candidate can determine who they are interviewing for.

Tools like LinkedIn, Twitter, and other professional social media platforms can help to uncover who the interviewer is. Don’t worry; this process is not considered “stalking” and is generally showing positive interest in learning about future colleagues and the company.

Using these tools, try to ask the following questions about the interviewer:

  • What are they currently working on?
  • Are they connected with mutual contacts in the industry?
  • What parts of the industry are they interested in?
  • What parts of the company do they work in?
  • Who do they work with inside the company?
  • What recent products or services have they “launched” or worked on?
  • What are their passions?
  • What are they generally interested in?

Know the Prospective Employer

A hiring manager is likely to ask qualifying questions to the interviewer that contain references to what the company does or what the company provides. It’s helpful to be familiar with what the company objectives are in order to be proactive in the phone interview.

For example, if the interviewer says, “We just released a new version to our software.” Then the candidate can say in response, “Yeah, I just installed it; I really love the new features around photo sharing.”

As a candidate and interviewee, it’s important to ask yourself these key questions about the company:

  • Who are the founders of the company?
  • Who leads the company?
  • What does the company do?
  • Who are the customers of the business?
  • What does the business provide to the customers?
  • What are the company objectives?
  • What is the work culture of the business?
  • What does the company believe in?

Video Preparation

Having a Zoom account and knowing how to join your meeting in advance of the job interview will help you immensely. Especially if this is your first time performing an interview by video like this. Zoom or Skype are two popular tools to try and replicate a face to face interview using virtual web conferencing tools. Be sure that you are ready to join the call when the time hits.

Camera Preparation

Turning on your camera and ensuring that your background is clear of all personal matters is important. You don’t want an empty bottle behind you, making you look like a messy or disorganized person. Try to create a beautiful setting, much like a news anchor might, for your video call. Be sure you aren’t sitting on your recliner chair, and the camera angle isn’t flattering. Find a well lit, quiet room.

Clothing Preparation

Treat your video call like any other interview. Dress for success. Wear business casual clothing like a blazer and sweater or maybe a shirt with a tie. You can keep your attire slightly less professional during a video call as the other person will most likely be in business casual wear themselves. And this will make them feel more comfortable.

Interviewer Preparation

Do your homework on who you’ll be speaking with. Is this a recruiter or someone part of the of the team? In either event, spend the time to know who that person is, what they care about, and how you can better open the conversation. You can do this by finding them on LinkedIn, Twitter, or other professional channels like their personal website if they have one.

Interview Question Preparation

Be sure to prepare like any other interview. Anticipate upcoming interview questions. Both about the company and the job or role. Specially, you want to practice your delivery. During a video call, you’ll want to keep the answers short so you keep the interviewer's attention span.

Body Language

Body language by video call is key. Eye contact and comfortable seating positions will help you. During a video call, you’ll need to use body language with “more volume” than you might in person. This means you need to smile more, stare into the camera (which is making eye contact) and make the other person feel like you are face to face as much as possible.

Have Questions to Ask

Just like any interview, prepare questions to ask at the end of the interview. This could be questions related to the role or questions related to the company. Something like, “What would you advise a new employee to do during the first 90 days in this role?” That would be a great question to ask. Sit down and write at least five questions that you feel are important for the interviewer to cover. If they answer them during the interview, be sure to cross them off your list and only ask the ones remaining.

Questions to ask at the end of the interview include:

  • Can you tell me what you personally value about the company culture here?
  • What are some of the short-term goals for the role?
  • What are some of the long-term goals for the role?
  • How would I be able to apply my problem-solving skills in this role?
  • Can you tell me more about what the onboarding process is like for this role?
  • What do you think the work-life balance will look like for this role?
  • When looking at me as a candidate, what do you think the team will value the most?
  • What are you most concerned about when it comes to myself as a candidate?
  • What skills do you feel every candidate should have in this role?
  • What is your personal management style?
  • Can you tell me more about what the hiring process has been like for this role?
  • What follow-up questions would you ask if you were trying to get hired in this role?
  • What competencies do you feel the team will value the most?
  • What are the long-term plans for the department or team I'm going to be working with?
  • What’s the biggest challenge I might face in this position?

Have Pen and Paper

Just like any interview, have pen and paper ready to take notes. This is a common mistake that video interviewers make, thinking that because they are having a virtual meeting, they don’t need to write notes. Note-taking will help you to ingest the conversation and ensure you ask the right questions at the end.

Write a Thank You Email

When you’re finished with the interview, in the next 24 hours after the interview is completed, write a thank you note that shows the interviewer you appreciated them taking the time. Include a mention of any questions you might have regarding the role or interview process. In general, use this note as an opportunity to show your interest in the position and show you have a passion for being hired.

Know When to Mute

A loud home can be annoying for the interviewer. This can be a dog barking or a child crying. When this occurs, know where the mute button is on Zoom and use it. This helps the interviewer feel less distracted in the conversation. Remember, when the interviewer is speaking, they can hear background noise coming from the other person on the phone or Zoom call. This can be distracting to hear while trying to speak.

Let the Interviewer Speak

It can be easy to interrupt someone over a video call. Treat the video call like any other job interview. Wait until the interviewer has completely finished speaking and then answer the interview questions or qualifying questions at a decent pace. Each interview answer should take 90-seconds to recite.

Let the Interviewer Interrupt You

It’s best to let a hiring manager interrupt you if they have questions during the interview question response. By letting the manager interrupt you during the response, it can provide an opportunity to answer the interview question with more clarity. This can be especially helpful when answering with too long of responses. If the interviewer decides to jump in, let them.

Practice Using Zoom

Before having a meeting, ask a friend or family member if they wouldn't mind jumping on a Zoom call and testing the technology. This can help to determine whether a computer needs to be updated, whether microphones are working, and other devices.

Ask a friend to test connecting on a Zoom call before the upcoming Zoom interview and the actual interview. This can reduce any time that might be spent getting into the Zoom call and being late. Being late to the interview will not leave a good impression upon the interviewer.

Charge Your Laptop

This might seem obvious but it's not. Make sure the laptop is plugged in. Having to run to the other room to grab a charging cable can interrupt the interview and make the conversation hard to feel "engaged" with on behalf of the hiring manager or interviewer.

Put the Camera Eye Level

It's ideal that the interviewer feels on the same "eye-level" as the candidate to replicate a face-to-face interview. This helps to feel more connected to the call. Place the webcam at eye level or place the laptop on a stand in order to put the camera higher during the video conference call. Make sure the camera lens is pointed toward the face of the candidate, this way facial expressions and other body language queues can be picked up by the interviewer.

For those that have a desktop computer, simply tilt the computer screen to be eye-level.

Have Talking Points Ready

Because it's a Zoom or skype interview doesn't mean anything different in terms of preparation than a traditional interview. Perform a mock interview (a practice interview) with friends or family members to better prepare answers to common job interview questions. And have "talking points" or questions to ask the interviewer prepared for the end of the call.

Be prepared to answer complicated questions like behavioral interview questions, which prompt storytelling and "on-the-job" experience from the candidate.

Don't Use a Virtual Background

It might seem fun to use. But a virtual background where the candidate looks like they're sitting on a beach comes across as unprofessional. Use a professional background setting, like a home office.

Search for Good Lighting

A dark mysterious figure on the other end of the video call can feel scary and unprofessional. Be sure to find a place in the home, home office, or somewhere else that has good lighting. The objective is to make sure that when the live interview takes place, the candidate can be seen and the friendly expressions being made can be witnesses. It's about comfort.

Know Salary Requirements

A common interview question during the Zoom interview session is, “What are your salary expectations?” It’s best to have a prepared answer to this question. There are two methods for figuring out what your salary range should be. The first method is to take your current salary range and “give yourself a raise”. A typical raise is around 8% of your existing salary. That means you would take your current salary, add 8% and that would be the range of your salary expectations for the new job.

The second method is to use a tool like Payscale.com or Salary.com, which both will help you to see the average salary range for not only the job you’re applying for but the geography you’re applying to as well.

This can be very helpful for those who are moving to a new geography and need to think about the cost of living and average salary as part of their salary negotiation for the position.

You can use both methods in combination as well. Simply take your existing salary and be sure you do the math to figure out what your relative scale is in the new geography and then add 8% to that giving you a range.

Try not to decide on an “exact figure” as this shows you’re not willing to be flexible on a salary offer. By showing a range, it means you’re willing to consider the entire compensation package as part of your benefits and compensation.

Prepare Ice Breaker Questions

Ice breaker questions are great ways to start a conversation. It allows the interviewer and hiring manager to connect on an informal subject matter before beginning the conversation and Zoom interview. It’s important to ask relevant ice breaker questions that make the hiring manager feel comfortable.

It’s important to tell the interviewer that an ice breaker question is being asked. It’s a fun, yet small game that can be played to create a connection. Ask one of the following ice breaker questions:

  • What's the first job you ever had?
  • What's the best job you ever had?
  • What do you admire in a colleague?
  • What do you admire in a boss?
  • What's the worst trait you could imagine to have in a supervisor?
  • What's the best trait you could imagine to have in a supervisor?
  • What's the longest job you've ever had?
  • What motivates you in the morning before you start work?
  • What's the most important thing for us to remember at work?
  • What's a funny story about one of our customers?

Have the Personal Meeting ID Handy

When joining a Zoom conference call, the callers have to enter a personal meeting ID. This should be inside the calendar invitation the hiring manager and potential employer sent. Inside the scheduled interview invitation should be detailed instructions for joining the Zoom call. Be sure to have this handy so as a job seeker, you aren't late to the call.

Zoom Interview FAQ

Common questions asked by job seekers.

Why are job interviews conducted by video call?

Not all are. But recently, due to COVID-19 and many other organizations being remote work-oriented, more job interviews have to be conducted using video communications.

What if they ask about recording the video call?

If the interviewer asks about recording the video interview, you may have to answer honestly. Which will be your comfort in allowing them to record the call. This will allow the interviewer to review the video later to take notes on the next steps with your interview.

Is there a Zoom app for my iPhone?

Even if there is, you should not use it. You should use your desktop computer to perform your video job interview. Mobile devices tend to have shaky videos along with odd angles for the camera. It will be the most professional and shows that you’re comfortable with video communications, which may be something the company performs often.

Should I ask questions about the hiring process?

If you are speaking with a recruiter, you absolutely should ask questions about the hiring process. Treat your video interview as though it is a regular interview.

Will the interview questions be different because it is a video call?

No, your interview questions will most likely be the exact same as if you were in a onsite interview or phone interview.

What is the most common mistake made on behalf of those that are new to video conferencing?

Joining the call too early. For Zoom in particular, sometimes the room you are using for one interviewer might be the same as the other. Be sure you are well prepared for your interview but don’t join the call too early. You could interrupt the other virtual interview that is taking place.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.

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