7 Psychological Tips To Ace Your Zoom Interview
#7. Socially charge yourself prior to the interview.
Did you know that the number of annual meeting minutes on Zoom is now over 3.3 trillion?
The use of the Zoom platform has increased over the past two years for different purposes: job interviews, classes, meetings, friend and family gatherings.
I, like many other people, had to learn things from the scratch with Zoom since I haven’t really used it before 2019 that much. It seemed a bit overwhelming at first, but if I did it, so can you!
I had a very successful interview a few months ago which landed me my dream job and I would like to share with you the exact things I did to ace it.
In the past two years, I have gathered quite a few scientific-based tips to help you boost your Zoom etiquette to have more productive Zoom meetings and ace your interviews.
So, are you figuring out this whole Zoom thing for your interview? No worries, I’ve got you!
Here are 7 amazing tips for you to nail your Zoom interview:
1. Network delays are manageable
One 2014 study by German academics showed that delays on phone or conferencing systems shaped our views of people negatively. Even delays of 1.2 seconds made people perceive the responder as less friendly or focused. Our brain is trying to read the other person's incongruence in the face.
For instance, the interviewer says something funny but there's a delay and you take a few seconds to react. Their brain is trying to figure out what happened. and in the meantime, it comes up with all these scenarios that perhaps their joke wasn’t too good or that they are not a funny person.
What to do?
Do a speed check right before you start. If you know you have internet connection issues, let the interviewer know at the beginning of your video call. If the connection is really bad, hope on to audio-only.
Slow down your speaking pace. If there is a lag, at least you give the other person the chance to catch up with you.
2. Proxemics is important
Proxemics is the distance people prefer to have when engaging in conversation with others. Anthropologist Edward Hall coined this word in the early 1960s and classified 4 major proxemic zones: the intimate space, personal space, social space, and public space.
Let’s look at this picture:
What do you think?
If you chose A-personal space, B-social zone C-public distance, and D-intimate zone, you are right!
The intimate zone (0–2 ft.) is used for very confidential, intimate communications. This is when we hug, kiss, or hold hands with another.
Personal space (2–4ft.) is where we usually feel safe to allow our partner, family members, or very close friends. ·
Social zone (4–12 ft.) is used in business transactions, meeting new people, and interacting with groups of people, during which there is most likely no physical contact.
Public distance (12 or more ft.) between people. For instance, when you go to the park and you have to share a bench with another, you will most likely choose to sit as far away on the opposite end.
What to do
The ideal distance between you and the camera should be about 3–4 feet away during a video call. You are then in the social distance proxemics. That way your upper torso and hands are showing and you don’t make the interviewer feel uncomfortable or awkward. Nobody enjoys a zoomed-in image of a floating head. It makes them feel the other person is trespassing their proxemics.
No matter how good you are at body language, if you aren’t within the right distance you’re greatly weakening your impact.
— Vanessa van Edwards
3. Ditch Your Fake Zoom Background
In a Harvard Business Review survey, 60% of the people who took part in it, said they do have a clear preference for a real Zoom background rather than a fake one. To inspire authenticity, trustworthiness, or expertise, the actual room behind the speaker was the most popular choice.
If you do want to use a fake background though, know that in a test of 6 different Zoom backgrounds, those who used a background with plants were viewed as more trustworthy, approachable, and intelligent than other backgrounds.
When the person you’re engaging with on the other side of the screen has a seaside or a desert background behind them, instead of focusing on the message they are trying to convey, your brain is mostly trying to figure out their location.
Especially if you suddenly see their cat’s tail rising from the desert dunes in the middle of your discussion. Your focus is going to shift immediately. Now, you wouldn’t want that to happen to you since it will distract your interviewer's attention.
What to do
If possible, position yourself in a way you can transmit the other information about you. Perhaps against your bookshelf or a wall on which you hung some University degrees or a painting you love or made. Something to show part of your personality.
If this is something you cannot do, at least use a more professional background. One with a plant or a bookshelf behind you. Something more neutral. A customed one would be even better. This way you can even show them a bit more of your personality. This leaves room for tip number 4.
4. Context cues
The context of a conversation can be formal or informal. You are here for an interview, therefore there are some predetermined conversational guidelines such as talking about your studies, and previous experience.
The cues are something we use that indicate the conversation can flow in another direction.
What to do
Pay attention to your interviewer's background. If you’re lucky and they don’t use a fake background, you can engage with different objects there. Perhaps a painting or a book that sparks your interest.
So instead of the old boring conversation opener: ‘what’s the weather like there? you can say: ‘oh, that painting looks great’ or ‘I love your book collection, what is your favorite?
5. Be transparent
Studies have shown that people who make mistakes are more likable than those who appear perfect.
If you struggle with perfectionism, I wrote an article called ‘7 Things to Do When Perfectionism is Holding You Back’. You can find it here.
What to do
So, don’t try to be perfect. If you misspell a word, that’s ok. Admit it and move on. If you spill your water by accident, laugh at yourself. And perhaps excuse yourself to change clothes or to grab a tissue.
Imagine not saying anything whilst you are experiencing discomfort. It will not only affect your attitude but your body language as well. Sending a signal to the interview that perhaps you are not enjoying the conversation.
6. Smile and wave
Did you know hiding your palms activates a primitive part of our brains that screams “DANGER”? When we first look at someone, our first instinct is to look at their hands. It’s an instinct that stuck with us since our primitive times when we were approaching others to see whether they were carrying a rock and a spear and therefore assess the potential danger.
According to a study, viral speakers used an average of around 465 hand gestures — nearly twice as many as the least popular TED speakers!
In the article 60 Hand Gestures You Should Be Using and Their Meaning, Vanessa van Edwards, recommends using the following hand gestures for a more successful online interaction.: listing (if you are talking about three things, raise three fingers to list them), a tiny bit (use your thumb and index finger to illustrate the word tiny) and bottom line (raise your right palm upside down and let it fall on top of the left one).
What to do
Starting your calls with a smile, a warm hello, and a hand wave is the best way to go. This will convey to the interviewer you are friendly and open for conversation.
When saying hello, use a warm tone. Not a neural one, otherwise you might be perceived as uninterested. By starting the conversation with a warm hello, you will send the interviewer the message you enjoy meeting them.
Use your hands to express you are approachable and to be trusted. But don’t overdo it. Excess hand gestures can be overwhelming and they’ll distract them from your actual message.
7. Socially charge yourself
Before your interview, prime your social skills. The energy you bring to the call is very different if you’ve spent your whole day at home with no social interaction to having done some socializing prior to it.
“Direct person-to-person contact triggers parts of our nervous system that release a cocktail of neurotransmitters tasked with regulating our response to stress and anxiety.”
— Psychologist Susan Pinker
In other words, when you communicate with people face-to-face, it makes you more resilient to stress factors in the long run. Face-to-face contact is like a vaccine since it releases a whole cascade of neurotransmitters that protects you now, in the present, and further into the future. It releases oxytocin, which increases your level of trust, and lowers your cortisol levels, so your stress levels go down.
What to do
Hang out with a friend or two, greet a neighbor, or interact with the shop assistant if you happen to go to the local store that day.
Even a video call with your favorite person can have similar effects.
Pro tip: If social interaction is not possible that day, listen to your favorite songs. Music has even been proven to reduce your levels of cortisol and ease stress. You can also get some movement in, whether you go for a run or do some quick situps at home. You can get the same benefits if you walk your cat or dog.
- Make sure you have a stable network connection before starting the interview. If there are any issues, explain to the interviewer, perhaps switch to audio or slow down your speaking pace.
- Sit 3–4 feet away from the camera. This way you will be in the social space proxemics and won’t make the interviewer feel awkward and uncomfortable.
- Ditch the fake Zoom background and position yourself against something in your house that shows part of your personality. If you can’t use a real wall, use a background that has plants or a bookshelf. You will appear more authentic, trustworthy, and capable.
- Use context queues. It will give the opportunity for a more informal approach and create a more relaxed atmosphere.
- Embrace your vulnerabilities and be transparent about anything going on in the background on your side. If there is something happening and you don’t communicate it, the interviewer will think you are uninterested or impolite.
- Open the conversation with a smile, a wave, and a warm tone of voice. This way the interviewer will think you are interested and engaged.
- Socially charge yourself before your interview to shift your energy from stagnant to active. Good energy is contagious and that's the one you want to send to your interviewer as well.
Last but not least, be confident in yourself and in your skills. Know what it is you bring to the table.
Know your value.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:
“Believe in your infinite potential. Your only limitations are those you set upon yourself.”
― Roy T. Bennett
Now go ace that interview! I believe in you!
I would love to know about your interview experiences and if you have any other useful tips for acing your dream job interview.
Thank you for reading! I appreciate you!
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