Don't Make These Huge Mistakes During a Zoom Interview

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Don't let technology ruin your job interview.

Few things can improve your personal finances like a new, better-paying job. But the process of finding a new job has changed so much in the last couple of decades.

Instead of going door to door handing out resumes, we now hop online and fill out the professional equivalent of dating profiles. And it's not just how we apply for jobs that has changed. Even before the pandemic, we were trending towards remote work -- and remote interviews. These days, you're more likely to head online for your job interview than you are to head across town.

Of course, the shift to Zoom video interviews hasn't been entirely without bumps in the road. There are a few mistakes that many folks tend to make that can turn a good interview into an instant rejection.

Zoom interviews are still interviews

When you don't even need to leave your living room to go to an interview, it can be easy to forget the gravity of the situation. But just because you're still at home doesn't mean your interview isn't a serious business meeting.

For example, you still need to dress the part. If you wouldn't wear pajamas to an in-person interview -- and you definitely should not wear pajamas to an in-person interview -- then you shouldn't wear them for your Zoom interview. Even if you're positive the camera won't see your bottom half, things happen; if you need to stand up for some reason, it's best to be wearing nice pants (or, at the very least, any pants).

However, it's not just for the interviewer's benefit that you should dress appropriately. How we dress can actively impact how we feel. If you're dressed professionally, you're more likely to conduct yourself professionally. Being put together can also help boost your confidence, which is always helpful during a stressful job interview.

Besides dressing appropriately, you also want to do all of the same preparation you'd do for any job interview. Research the industry, the company, and the role for which you're applying. And have a few questions about the job written down so you don't look like a frozen screen when the interviewer asks if you have any of your own questions.

If your camera can see it, your interviewer can, too

When you log into any video chat app, you usually have a little preview box that shows you what your camera sees. That is the same image the interviewer is going to receive.

It's a very good idea to do a little testing long before your interview to make sure your camera isn't picking up something you wouldn't want someone else -- or, at least, someone you want to hire you -- to see. This might be something as benign as dirty laundry, or maybe it's the, er, "questionable" poster left over from your college dorm.

Whatever the case, clean up your background. If you can, choose a neutral location in your home that has good lighting and little clutter. And no, you can't just rely on Zoom backgrounds to cover your messy surroundings. If the background glitches or fails for some reason (it happens), you could be in trouble.

Technology is complicated

While Murphy wasn't around for laptops and Zoom calls, his law still applies: If it can go wrong, it probably will. That is, it will -- unless you thoroughly test it out before you need it.

For example, what are you going to do for your sound? If you don't have some type of speakers and microphone, you won't hear them, and they won't hear you. And while most laptops now have built-in cameras, speakers, and microphones, the quality can vary a lot. Depending on your setup and location, you could have echoes, or simply be hard to hear.

If you decide to go with a headset of some type, make sure it's compatible not just with your device, but also with Zoom itself. If your computer doesn't have Bluetooth, for instance, then your trusty Bluetooth headphones won't be an option.

Similarly, you're going to want to check out your lighting situation before your interview. A bright light directly behind you can put you in shadows or distract the interviewer. In some cases, you may want to purchase a cheap ring light that can mount around/behind your camera.

And don't forget about the other aspects of your Zoom call. This includes your internet connection since uploading and downloading streaming video can be hard on slower connections. It also includes your device's power. A long interview could sap the life out of a laptop or phone that isn't fully charged (or even one that is). If you're not sure if your device will go the distance, set up your interview space somewhere with a power outlet.

Job interviews are stressful enough without adding in the extra complications that come with adding technology to the mix. But a little preparation and testing can ensure your Zoom interview goes as smoothly as possible -- at least so far as your technology is concerned. The rest is up to you.

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