Interviewing over Zoom – our new harsh reality!

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As we press forward in our current COVID-19 induced new world, one of the tasks that I don’t see ending any time soon is interviewing over Zoom, Teams…etc., you name the video platform! This means that hiring managers and candidates must now be more aware that the camera is on for that full interview. The whole process is sold the “same as doing an in-person interview,” we will turn on the camera, and it will be fine. Well, that could not be further from the truth, and after doing countless interviews over the last several months, from my experience, we need to step it up, and it a much better experience.
I want to spend a couple of minutes and share some areas where I think the hiring team – and the candidate, could do a better job in this Zoom/Teams interview process. First, let’s start with the hiring team:

Interviewing is not what it used to be, we are now almost 100% over Zoom.
The days of in-person interviewing is long gone, now you have to get good a Zoom/Teams!

Hiring Team Tips and Tricks

  1. Turn on virtual backgrounds. Both Teams and Zoom have the ability. Job candidates do not need to see inside your house. I am a huge tennis fan, and the last thing I need is for a candidate I am interviewing to see all my John McEnroe posters on my office wall. Put a virtual background up, let the candidate comment on the background and move on.
  2. Hiring teams must have their cameras on for the interview. That is a hard requirement. We realize that not everyone loves being on camera, I get that, but that is a showstopper.
  3. Add the questions directly to chat and let the candidate have a minute or two to read the question after it is asked. Remember that one person could be looking at 4-5 people starting at them so they may be nervous. Give them time to process the question and respond.
  4. Be patient on audio and video issues. If audio go awry, ask them to repeat themselves. Remember they cannot hear themselves over Zoom, so they may think they are giving a great answer when the hiring team may have only heard part of it.
  5. Do not multitask, I know it is easy to do other things when you are interviewing someone, we all have multiple screens and can get distracted, but it is not fair to the job applicant. Take the time and to dedicate yourself to the candidate so that you can be sure you are making the correct choice on whether to hire this person or not. Don’t answer that email during the interview, give your undivided attention to the interviewee so that you do not make a bad decision. Bad hires are costly to the company. We are all busy, but if you signed up to be on the job panel, be on the panel! Trust me, your email can wait for a bit!

Job Applicant Tips and Tricks

  1. Be passionate about your topic, but not boring. Learn to pause, learn to breathe. Pausing on a Zoom call is ok because the hiring team is used to audio issues and sometimes it needs a couple seconds to correct itself. This also gives the hiring team the ability to process what you are saying. Some job applicants go on and on, and it is frankly too much. In a room full of people, you will usually get a clue as to when to stop talking, but that does not happen as easily on a Zoom/Team call.
  2. Turn on a virtual background. We do not need to see your home environment. It can be distracting and frankly sets impressions early on that may not necessarily be valuable in the hiring process. If you want to make a great impression, using a virtual background may provide a better experience than your home environment without any distractions. A plain office background works perfectly and keeps things simple.
  3. Center your camera and stay centered. If you are passionate and move around when giving answers, no problem, but watch yourself in your camera. Stay focused with your face centered in the screen. Being too close or too far from the camera is distracting or seeing only half their face (my example here) is not good when interviewing for a job. Be passionate, give your experiences, but please stay centered and in focus for the camera.
  4. Your tone and excitement levels are critical on zoom calls. Trust me, we know if you want this role or not, so letting that tone and excitement come across in your interview is critically important for your success. Not so much that you are overbearing, but enough that we get it.
  5. Enjoy the experience. You are probably going to have many interviews via Zoom, so when you do, remember these tips and learn from these experiences. I believe that the longer we stay in this remote environment, the days of in-person interviews will be few and far between, so we all need to get better at this interviewing process, both from the hiring team and the job applicants.

Final thoughts

These are just some tips and tricks for that I have experienced over the last several months. If even one tip can help someone land a career, I am happy to help. This is definitely not an exhausted list, it wasn’t meant to be, just hoping to help!

If you want to get some practice interviewing, or looking for some tips and some help, check out my Coaching/Mentoring program here. If you want to read a fun article I wrote on Project Management and the value they add, check out this article here.


What do you think?
Thanks!
Bill Dow, PMP

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