Whether it’s for a job or a media hit, these Zoom interview tips will help you elevate your Zoom game. After all, a life-changing moment for your personal or corporate brand could be just a few Zoom interviews away…
Before we get to our Zoom Interview Tips, if you need help figuring out how to work Zoom and its controls, check out our step by step video here.
Here’s what you need to know — from what equipment to use to where to look to how to create a great background — so that your Zoom interviews are a crashing success.
Zoom Interview Tips: What equipment to have on hand:
- Truthfully, most internal webcams (built right into your computer) have terrible resolution, so external webcams are preferable
- If you don’t have one, I’m partial to the Logitech HD Pro webcam C920
- For your own safety, your webcam should have a privacy cover so no one can film you without your consent because we live in a world where sometimes humans suck
- Your camera should be as close to your eye level as possible:
- You can have it perch to the top of your computer screen
- It’s even better if you have it on a tripod (a full one if you’re standing or a mini one on your desk if you’re sitting) and lined up as close to your eye line as possible
- If you have a recent iPhone, you can also use it, preferably on a tripod with a selfie ring that will actually cradle your phone.
Your webcam should have a built in mic, but usually, they aren’t great. If you are so inclined, you might want an external USB mic.
- A Blue Yeti is a good and affordable option:
- Pro tip: Some mics trick Zoom into thinking they’re a speaker too, so if you can’t hear anything on Zoom, check to make sure Zoom hasn’t set your mic as your speaker as well.
- So is the Meteor Mic.
You should have headsets standing by. Sometimes, there is feedback between the mic and speakers. Headsets that work with your computer will immediately rectify the problem.
Natural lighting is best if you can use it. Inside, having window light shining on your face is perfect. But it must be even. And sometimes it’s hard to find window light if you are using your computer to record your shoot. Your office might not be that moveable. One trick: don’t shoot into the window.
Outside in shade is good too. But that’s not appropriate for all seasons or types of interviews/meetings.
Which brings us to actual lights. For the most part, you want at least two lights on either side of you pointing towards you. A three-light system is even better but mostly impractical for most office setups.
- Lumia x 2 or 3- will clamp on to your computer or work on stands that you can buy from them too – worth buying the (lights are on special for $69 each right now and stands are $29 each)
- One thing to know though: it takes weeks to get your lights and customer service is spotty at best.
- Joby beamo x 2, each with a tripod you can rest on your desk
- Ring light x 1 is a good, cheap alternative that does give different points of light, best positioned directly in front of you. This is a tabletop light but you can also get them on full stands.
- Gooseneck lamps that you might have around the house but with a Phillips Hue lightbulb
- If you plan to do a lot on camera, I’d suggested investing in a 3-point lighting setup like this one: The Elgato Key Light Studio (you’d want 3).
- In a pinch, pull in the lights from your house, especially those that are gooseneck, letting you play with the direction.
Zoom Interview Tips: The Background:
- Clean surfaces with little on them
- Cords out of the way
- Papers put away
- Not too many knick knacks
- Nothing confidential anywhere
- Not too cluttered
- Not too bare
- Nothing too distracting
- Nothing growing out of your head
- Corners can work and add depth
- Colors other than white can work well
- Virtual backgrounds don’t usually work well without a green screen, and most look tacky
- No mirrors or glass – it will reflect back and be distracting
- Careful about lights in the camera range – distracting and can distort
Zoom Interview Tips: How to handle yourself:
Where to look:
For zoom, skype and other online interviews, look directly into the camera and not the screen:
- Pretend the camera is a person you like very much and have a real conversation with them
- Don’t look into the screen to talk with the face you see talking at you
- Your eyeline will be way off and it will be very disconcerting to viewers/anyone you are talking to.
- Hold your thought and eyeline — keep good eye contact with your camera throughout your whole though. If you are recording for a video, hold your thought and your eyes on the camera
What to do with your hands and the rest of your body:
- Avoid putting your hands on your desk or anywhere where your camera, computer, lights or microphones are — you will inevitably bump something and your audience will feel annoyed
- Unless you are demonstrating something, try and keep your hands out of the frame
- If they are in the frame, make sure they are all the way in the frame — people can’t stand it when hands are half in/half out of frame
- Stand or sit as you like:
- Be comfortable so you can be as relaxed as possible
- Keep your knees bent and your shoulders lose
- Remind yourself to breath; holding your breath will make the audience very tense and not trust you
- Unless you are delivering terrible news, remember to smile, even when talking about something important
- People trust people they like, and people trust people who smile
- Hair should kempt, nose hair, ear hair, etc. should be trimmed, teeth and nails should be clean
Zoom Interview Tips — What to wear:
- Solid, gentle colors work really well
- Light pinks
- Pale lavender
- Pale blue
- Sometimes pale yellow
- Long sleeve shirt preferable to short sleeve
- pressed and clean
- Jacket or tie optional
- know your audience and/or what other speakers will be wearing
What not to wear:
- Don’t wear white (especially for media interviews — can strobe)
- Don’t wear anything too vibrant (for media, again, can strobe)
- Avoid checks (for media – can go wiggly)
- Avoid stripes – especially big ones — very faint ones are sometimes ok
- Avoid patterns
- Avoid green if you’re using a green screen
- Avoid heavy or big jewelry
- Avoid anything reflective
Zoom Interview Tips — Other:
- Turn off anything that can make a noise:
- All computer notifications
- All ringers on your cell phone, land lines, etc.
- Air conditioners
- Air purifiers
- Oven timers
- Anything that might chime, ring, chirp, beep, etc.
- Close your door and put a sign on it reminding others you are filming
A media interview or a job interview over Zoom can feel overwhelming. But the more you understand how to use the medium and make it work for you, the better of you’ll be. A few Zoom interview tips is all it takes.
Don’t worry. You’ve got this.