The new age of ZOOM: is it all doom & gloom?

Published by Maggie Partsi

August 25, 2020

Is your ZOOM all doom and gloom? Is the lighting wrong, the sound muffled and the Internet glitchy?

While ZOOM has become a popular and necessary tool for conducting job interviews over the past six months, a bad user experience can leave both you and your prospective employee feeling underwhelmed.

So here are a few tips, tales and anecdotes to get you on the right track when interviewing—and to give you a good idea of what NOT to do!

The interview.

Interviewing a prospective employee is hard enough without the added layer of technology. You generally have about one hour to figure out who the person is, why they are here and whether or not they will be able to make a positive impact. One measly hour to jump start a career that might last several years in your business doesn’t really sound like enough, which is why you need to make the most of it.

The plus side.

The great thing about using ZOOM is that there’s no more awkward pre-interview handshake, and less chance for nerves to take over as you are not face to face. It also helps to remove some unconscious biases that you might have when meeting someone in person.

The impending distractions.

Before your ZOOM call, ensure you are in a comfortable setting which you can remain in for the next hour or so, without interruption. This may be particularly difficult if you have a screaming baby, loud neighbours, a noisy pet, etc. Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid these sorts of distractions, but you can endeavour to do so by alerting anyone in the house that you will be busy and not to walk in with a cup of tea or your child’s favourite teddy. It happens!

Keeping your child distracted with toys to play with whilst you are online can be a good idea, but keep in mind not all toys are good options. One interviewer mistakenly gave her daughter a set of drums to play as a distraction, then realised the drumming was much more distressing and distracting than the child having no toy at all. She even asked her candidate, “Why did I think drums were a good idea?!”

If a pressing situation does arise during the interview, it’s best to excuse yourself politely than to wait it out and see what happens.

The obvious one.

Ensuring you are in a well-lit room makes you visible and can help to put both parties at ease. Eye contact isvitally important; nobody wants to talk to an expressionless dark figure that looks like it’s disappearing intothe mist. This one might seem obvious, but I had one candidate reveal to me that they sat through threerounds of interviews, during all of which the interviewer either had their camera off or was sat in completedarkness. This made the candidate feel very uneasy and the discomfort of having to stare at her own facethe entire interview was distracting.

Conversely, while some lighting is good, make sure you are not sat facing directly towards the sunlight, as trying to understand what’s being said at the same time as squinting into a camera often tends to make life much more difficult, and can even look condescending if the other party doesn’t realise you are being blinded.

Testing the audio goes hand in hand with the lighting—you don’t want to realise five minutes in that you’ve actually been on mute the whole time and wasted some of your best interview conversation on your housemates or cat who are listening in from the next room.

Another hot tip is to make sure you are not sitting with a mirror behind you—you never know what will be discovered and as you are in the privacy of your own home, you would likely want to keep it that way…

The interview questions.

Now we come to the most interesting part—the content of the interview itself.

It’s important to remember that this is a stressful time for everyone. Unemployment is at an all time high and most people are trying their hardest to stand out and present themselves in the best way possible.

So here’s a few tips:

1. Really LISTEN when the other party is talking—this might sound obvious, but it’s much easier than you think to fall down the ‘I’m just waiting for my chance to talk’ wormhole.

2. Ask your candidate about their passions and the projects they’re working on while at home. What people do when they don’t HAVE to do it reveals a lot about their motivations and can help you figure out which part of the role they will enjoy the most.

3. Don’t force candidates to complete intensive project work as a way of demonstrating their capability. One candidate revealed that a company made them complete an entire project of work (unpaid) before even considering making an offer.

4. Empathy is key. Don’t just listen to what’s being said, but also try to understand where your interviewee is coming from and how they got to where they are today.

5. Make time to answer any questions the candidate has as well. An interview is a two-way street, and while you are assessing the candidate’s fit for the role, they are equally assessing their own interest in your company and team.

6. Thank your interviewee for their time and give them an accurate timeline of when they should expect to hear back. There is nothing worse than sitting and waiting for an answer or some feedback, especially when you are stuck at home. Plus, any feedback is good feedback and can help lead them in the right direction for their next interview.

So there you have it. Whether you are already a ZOOM-expert or are about to embark on your very first video adventure, just remember that we are all working towards a common goal, and the technology is here to help us, even though it might not seem like it all the time—looking at you, Wi-Fi signal…

If you found this article valuable, please give it a like or share. If you are a jobseeker looking for contract or project-based work in Tech in Melbourne or Sydney, or you’d like to discuss your business’ upcoming project needs, reach out to me on

For more great news, insights and career opportunities in tech, join over 6,000 IT professionals who follow Torii Consulting on LinkedIn .

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