Stop Making These Faux Pas on Your Virtual Interviews

So, after months of sending out tons of resumes, you finally land an interview via zoom.

Do not mess it up!

  1. Do not use your prized interview as a practice session. This should not be the first time you are using the platform whether, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype, Google Meets, etc. Ensure that you are comfortable with the application by testing thoroughly and practicing with a trusted coach or friend. Hint: No upside-down images. No talking head. Your camera must be at eye level and the appropriate distance from you.
  2. Do not show up looking casual in your T-Shirt, sweat top, or pajamas. Dress the part for heaven’s sake. You may not be leaving the house, but this is no excuse to look like you just rolled out of bed. If the job would require a suit, then wear a suit. If it requires a tie, wear a tie.
  3.  Do not enter the meeting room late or too early. If you have an interview on the hour login about 5 minutes before the start time. Logging in too early can be annoying for the interviewer who may have several candidates scheduled for specifics times. Eliminate the need for her to send you a message in the waiting room to remind you of your interview time. But never be late. It is an awfully bad sign.
  4. Do not hide in the dark. One of the worst things is to be interviewing someone and you cannot see their face because the lighting is so bad (too much or too little). Test different areas in your space and adjust the lighting to see what works best. More light should be in front of you than behind. You want the light to illuminate your face without casting a shadow. A table lamp is an exceptionally good friend.
  5. Remove the clutter from behind you. I know the bookshelf look is in vogue but don’t try it if you have a very disorganized bookcase that does not look professional. Keep the background as clear and clean as possible so the interviewer can focus on you and not be distracted by your photos and keepsakes. Hint: I do not want to see your bed either.
  6. Do not have the dog or cat in the room. I know you are at home and feeling amazingly comfortable enjoying pet parenthood, but this is not the time to be telling doggy or kitty to go sit and be quiet. This is not cute. Hint: Would you take a pet to an interview in a physical office?
  7. Do not have your child(ren) or spouse interrupting your interview. Everyone in your household should know that you are off-limits for at least an hour. Lock the door if you must. We know you may be home-schooling, and your spouse may be working from home but the constant chatter and noise in the background are not appropriate. If you can ask the folks next door to keep it down for a while.
  8. Do not have everyone online while you interview. Low bandwidth will kill your interview like nothing else will. If I cannot hear you and see you clearly, it’s a lost cause. You want to test you video upload speed before the call and ask everyone in your household to get offline so you can have enough bandwidth.
  9. Do not speak in Q and A style. I want you to be engaging. It is a conversation so please keep it fluid and show enthusiasm. Be interesting so I want to listen to you and not watch my timer. Come prepared with questions for me. Hint: Do not ask me questions that show you did not do your research. I want value-added questions. Plus, never let me see you reading from a script.
  10. Do not look like you are at the inquisition. Please be pleasant and easy to talk to. Hint: Wear a smile. It goes well with any outfit.


Written by Dr. Sandra Palmer

CEO and Senior Partner – Above or Beyond Incorporated