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What Not to Do During Your Virtual Job Interviews

Man on a virtual interview in casual clothes and a messy room

May 17, 2021

#1 - Arriving Late to the Interview

When it comes to job interviews, if you’re not early, you’re late. This is doubly true for Zoom interviews. You should be ready at least 10 minutes before the interview time. However, make sure to check your internet connection, the camera, and the microphone beforehand. You can prevent any last-minute technical difficulties from derailing your effort. There’s nothing worse than starting out a job interview stressed out and distracted.

Always confirm your interview details before the day of your meeting to make sure you’re on time and prepared.

#2 - Not Practicing With the Technology Beforehand

Speaking of technical difficulties, you can avoid many of them by making sure you’re comfortable with the Zoom software ahead of time. Be sure to download Zoom and get in at least one practice interview before the real event. Also, place the camera directly to your face and keep the room well-lit. Speaking into the microphone will help you to keep away other external sounds for easy communication. You’ll feel more at ease during the conversation and more resilient if youth technical issues come up.

#3 - Failing to Gather Your Materials

Before you’re seated in front of your computer, try to place within your reach everything you need to carry out a successful interview. Make sure you have all your interview materials, such as your resume, references, portfolio, etc., and that you’re comfortable and ready to speak.

Although you shouldn’t eat or drink during the conversation, you can have a glass of water at arm’s reach in case of emergency. (Interview nerves can cause dry throat so it’s better to take a sip of water than to cough all through the meeting.)

#4 - Choosing the Wrong Outfit 

If you’ve been accustomed to being at home in sweatpants or pajamas for an extended period, it might be hard to remember what professional attire even looks like. As a quick refresher, business attire or business casual attire is usually the best bet for job interviews. A suit, sport coat, button-down, or nice sweater are safe bets. Try to peg your outfit to the company’s culture as you understand it, but do dress up a bit, even if employees keep it super-casual.

Remember that whatever you choose should show well on camera as well as be professional. However, avoid stripes, extremely bright colors, or wearing the same shade as your background. Using a plain background is mostly appropriate. 

Furthermore, even if the interviewer can’t see the lower half of your body, it’s a good idea to wear appropriate attire. You’ll conduct yourself more professionally by avoiding showing off your pajama pants if you need to stand up for some reason.

#5 - Interviewing in a Messy Space

Zoom allows you to choose a default background image or upload your own photo, so it's totally possible to interview amid a pile of dirty laundry and unfiled papers while appearing as if Marie Kondo has just optimized your entire life. However, if you decide to go with a digital background it's still a good idea to tidy up before your job interview. Why? Research shows that your work environment affects your mental health and decision-making ability. In short, a serene workspace promotes peace of mind.

#6 - Distracting Your Interviewer with These Habits

Perhaps the worst Zoom interview mistake you can make is to indicate through your behavior and mannerisms that you're not interested in what the interviewer is saying. Unfortunately this is easier to do than you might think.

Little gestures and facial expressions while you speak can make a big impact. Fidgeting with your hair or clothes, checking your phone (yes, even off-screen), or staring at yourself instead of connecting with the interviewer - all of these can make is seem like you're disconnected, uninterested, or distracted.

#7 - Not Carrying on a Real Conversation

Even when they're conducted in person, job interviews can feel like interrogations. The interviewer asks questions; you answer them. You ask questions; the interviewer answers them. Rinse, repeat. Video technology can exacerbate this problem bu shrinking your visual field down to two screens and ratcheting up the tension with the threat of technical difficulties.

To overcome these issues, remind yourself that a good job interview is a conversation - no more and no less. You and the interviewer are not on opposing sides, but on the same team, working together towards a common goal.

Focus on listening instead of waiting for your chance to speak. With this, you'll demonstrate a valuable soft skill, excellent communication skills, and also learn more about the job. Best of all you'll make a more positive impression on the hiring manager, which is essential to helping you land the job. 

How to Make the Best Impression

Practice Makes Perfect

This may not always be the case, but if you take the time to ensure you're prepared and your technology is working properly, the interview will be much less stressful.

Get Set Ahead of Time

Don't wait until the last minute to set up your interview space, clear away the clutter, and get your interview clothes ready.

Pay Attention

It can be hard when you're interviewing remotely, so remember to listen carefully to the questions and focus on your interviewer.