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Written by Anna MuckermanAnna Muckerman

Zoom Interview

13 min read
Zoom interview
Artwork by:Alina Kugush
With more Americans working from home than ever, Zoom interviews are the new normal in hiring. While there are many similarities with traditional interview styles, there are a few rules of Zoom interview etiquette that can ensure a more successful experience.

In the following chapters, we’ll dive into some of our best Zoom interview tips, complete with examples and answers to all the most pressing Zoom interview questions.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  1. Zoom interview tips and tricks.
  2. How to prepare for the most common Zoom interview questions.
  3. The best Zoom interview backgrounds with examples.
  4. Great Zoom interview outfits and how to decide what to wear.
  5. Zoom interview questions for employers looking to hire great candidates.

Zoom interview tips

90% of Zoom interview success is about calmness, foresight and preparation. Unlike a phone call, the best and most basic thing to do is prepare your setup (this matters even if you’re not using your webcam).

VoIP software like Zoom is notoriously unpredictable, fiddly and is prone to spring unpleasant surprises on you. Video calls also often feel unnatural and it can be hard to feel comfortable. So let’s run through two short checklists of Zoom interview tips to make sure your video interview goes smoothly.

Here’s a short checklist of Zoom interview tips to run through before you dive into your Zoom session with a potential employer:

  1. Set up a comfortable workstation
  2. Check your audio equipment
  3. Check your webcam view before the actual call
  4. Make sure to have good wifi (an ethernet cable connection is even better)
  5. Choose a Zoom interview background if you prefer not showing your actual living space
  6. Prepare your clothes and put them on beforehand
  7. Practice your answers in front of the mirror, with a friend or just talking out loud when you’re alone
  8. Practice talking about yourself in general - nothing is as scary anymore when you’ve done it multiple times.

Zoom interview questions 

Many of the questions and answers in a Zoom interview will be similar to the in-person interviews you’re used to. However, the distanced nature of the interview means sometimes applicants can feel more nervous since it’s harder to read the interviewers facial expressions and body language. 

One of the best ways to overcome this is by practicing for the most common questions ahead of time. When you already have the best answer in mind, you can focus more on delivering it naturally. 

Here are some of the most common Zoom interview questions to expect:

  1. Why should we hire you? (Or the more polite version - “Why do you think you’re a good fit for this role?)
  2. Why did you choose our company?
  3. Tell me about yourself (the infamous and dreaded recruiter move).
  4. What type of past work experience do you have relevant to this role?
  5. Could you tell me about your strengths and weaknesses?
  6. Why did you leave your last job?
  7. Can you give me an example of a work problem you solved?
  8. Are you a team player or are you more effective working alone?

Let’s take a look at how to handle the answers to these below.

Zoom interview questions and answers

Memorising answers is never a good tactic. So, rather than give you copypasta templates that will only turn off your thinking and make you sound like a robot, let’s instead look at the HOW and WHY (the logic) for each Zoom interview question and answer.

Why should we hire you? (Why do you think you’re a good fit for this role?)

The main rule here is: don’t devalue yourself and be comfortable with your image. Without going into arrogance, just be positive about who you are - a human being with experience, intelligence and a work ethic. Imagine your future duties and work environment and sincerely describe how you imagine your hard work, past experience and desire to achieve something will contribute to the company. Practice this beforehand if you have to - in front of a mirror or just while doing your household chores.

Why did you choose our company?

Rule #1 to follow: never say that you don’t know or confess that it’s just because you happened upon a job listing. This shows disinterest and apathy. Research the employer beforehand and this answer will be easy. You chose them because it seems like a good place to apply your past experience, a place where you can grow, a place with good corporate culture and reputation, or one of the best reasons - you actually like their products, understand and use them yourself (if that’s true of course)! Be prepared and polite and this is an “gimme” Zoom interview answer.

Tell me about yourself.

What you need to understand: this Zoom interview answer is a chance to showcase your personality, social interaction skills and expand on your professional history and achievements. Most times, it’s what the recruiter is looking for. This is your professional pitch, your moment to shine. Dione Edwards, an expert career coach expresses her views and advice on the TMAY here. But in general, this Zoom interview answer may contain the bulk of your prepared material. Be relaxed, be confident and just talk about your work history and skills in a positive way.

What type of past work experience do you have relevant to this role?

Ideally, this Zoom interview answer will be mostly covered by the previous one (tell me about yourself). If it has already been asked and you’ve already answered, just go into some additional details relevant to the specific job role. If the TMAY question hasn’t been asked yet, cover it all in this interview answer.

Could you tell me about your strengths and weaknesses?

This interview question is also often dreaded by candidates and may feel like a trap for more introverted people. Take a breath, a small pause, and list your positive work qualities. Don’t dive too deep into actual “bad traits”, but perhaps note some areas you are working on (these shouldn’t sound like dealbreakers). Practice this Zoom interview answer beforehand as well! 

Can you give me an example of a work problem you solved?

The recipe here is simple: prepare a couple of good work stories that show you in a positive light BEFORE the interview. If you have trouble finding ones where you shined solo, think of a situation where you were part of a team that accomplished something.

Are you a team player or are you more effective working alone?

Rule of thumb is: never state outright that you’re a “lone wolf”. The ideal Zoom interview answer for this question will often sound something like: “I’m comfortable working in teams and love contributing to group efforts, but I do sometimes need a small pause to recharge and think on my own. That way, I can come back composed and focused.” This sounds balanced, sincere, human (just make sure it’s true).

60+ Behavioral interview questions – tips and examples
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Behavioral interview questions will be on the tip of an interviewer’s tongue for much of any job interview. Your specific role in your past accomplishments will inform them of how you might perform in the future. Answer the questions well and the job is yours.

Great Zoom interview backgrounds + examples

One of the most important parts of preparing for a Zoom interview has nothing to do with questions – your background plays a big role in a hiring manager’s perception of you as a candidate.

A great Zoom interview background doesn’t have to be complicated. Any place that’s neat, clean and free people or moving objects will help the hiring manager focus on what you have to say. A blank wall will certainly get the job done, but by creating a more interesting background, you can boost your professional presentation.

Here are some examples of simple Zoom interview backgrounds that get the job done:

  • A bookshelf with books and photos
  • An appropropriate painting or photograph
  • A calendar, cork board or while board
  • Houseplants or other decorative objects
  • An office space with a desk or computer
Expert tip

Although it might seem like a good idea to place yourself in front of an attractive window view, the daylight will likely overpower the camera and place you in a shadow. Your strongest light source should be in front of your face in order to illuminate all your features.

Choosing the perfect Zoom interview outfit

Even if the digital format means the hiring manager will see less detail, your Zoom interview outfit still matters a great deal. The perfect Zoom interview outfit is one that sends the right message based on your field and position. There’s nothing wrong with a suit jacket or dress for a bank teller, but a zoologist may prefer something more practical. Pay particular attention to your top half, since it’s most likely to be seen on camera, but your entire outfit should be professional (no shorts or pajama bottoms.)

Do
  • Wear bright jewel tones like rich purple, green or blue
  • Go with the more professional outfit when in doubt
  • Dress almost like you would if you were going into the office
Don't
  • Wear small patterns or stripes
  • Dress in neon colors
  • Wear bright white or light colors which may overexpose the camera

Zoom interview questions for employers

Let’s break this down into two parts: 

  1. Zoom interview questions that candidates can ask employers;
  2. Zoom interview questions for employers looking to connect with a candidate.

Both are important but have completely different ideas behind them. Let’s first take a look at the type of Zoom interview questions for employers that job seekers can benefit from asking.

What can a job seeker ask a potential employer during an interview?

In preparation for a Zoom interview, a lot of candidates focus so much on what is expected of them that they forget an interview can and should be a back-and-forth dialogue. It’s not only possible but often healthy to ask some of your own polite Zoom interview questions in return.

The best questions are usually related to a key piece of information said during the interview, but just in case your mind goes blank, it’s smart to have a few catch-all questions on hand. 

Here are some examples of good Zoom interview questions for employers (or hiring managers) that you can ask:

  1. What do you think will be the biggest challenge for an employee in this role?
  2. What value besides the basic job responsibilities would the company appreciate from someone in this role? (This is a really good once since you can follow up with how you can help in this regard).
  3. Does the company have a mentorship program?
  4. Could you tell me a bit about your corporate culture? Are there any team-building initiatives, corporate events or traditions?  (It’s good to provide the follow-up question to specify what interests you).

What can employers or hiring managers ask candidates to find out more about them?

If you’re an employer conducting interviews via Zoom or Skype , you may be wondering how you can best connect with candidates through the screen. Here are a few questions that can help you get to know applicants on a more personal level:

1. What does a typical work from home day look like for you?

This question helps you get a sense of how the candidate plans to spend their time. Do they prefer an early morning schedule in order to pick up the kids after school? Maybe they often work weekends to take the load off the weekdays.

2. Tell me about your ideal workspace.

This question helps you get a sense of an applicant’s personality and values. It’s also a good “culture fit” question. When working remote, new hires who can easily fit into the existing company environment will make the transition smoother for everything.

3. Would you prefer to continue remote or work in the office if the possibility opened up?

This is a great question to get a sense of a candidate’s long term goals. Maybe they are planning a big move next year and don’t see themselves as an office fixture. If the position requires relocation, this is also a good way to see how committed the applicant is to that idea.

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