I’m Olly, I’m the marketing director at ARTO. We were recently talking about how we can help candidates prepare for an increasing number of interviews taking place over Zoom and Teams. I mentioned that I had a bad experience where everything went wrong and the team suggested I gave some advice on how to avoid this.
In the middle of 2020, I was interviewing for a few roles, of course, all of this was over Zoom or the dreaded Teams software. My home setup for calls is pretty good, but it all went wrong one day during a call with a founder of a business looking to hire a new marketing director. I had never had a call go wrong before, never had a tech issue with connection and this interview still haunts me today.
So, I am writing this to help you avoid the problems I faced that day in 2020 and avoid the cold sweats that come back every time that I remember this.
Scheduling The Call
One hour before my interview I received a text message asking if I was having problems dialing into the call. It was at this exact moment that I realised there was a problem.
My initial call was with one of their UK team. The follow-up call was scheduled for 1 pm – however, it was 1 pm Spanish time as the founder was based in Spain and this hadn’t been mentioned before. This time difference was instrumental in not being prepared. There was no diary invite, it was all scheduled over the phone, and a link was shared with me to dial in via text.
When setting the call up make sure it is in every attendee’s diary and then it will be synchronised to make sure everyone sees the correct time in their location.
Get the tech set up correctly
In the rush to join the call, I didn’t have my headphones so I joined a few minutes late to find the microphone on my computer wouldn’t connect to Zoom. Another victory. My heart is racing now just remembering it.
Avoid this and in advance of the call do a test on the platform you will be using. Check the sound is not just working but that you can be heard clearly. Using a wired microphone versus a Bluetooth headset will often improve the sound quality hugely. As you’re not there in person and body language can be lost on a virtual call, how you sound is incredibly important and can have a huge impact on how you are received.
Remember, knocking on the table, tapping on the desk or a vibrating phone can really mess with the sound quality. You want people to hear you loud and clear.
Find Somewhere Quiet
Easier said than done sometimes, but this will really improve your focus on the call and how the interviewee experiences it. I had builders working on our house, and I forgot to ask them to stop so halfway through this call the drills kick in, and the house is vibrating. Not ideal.
Close the windows, make sure anyone in the house knows you have a call to do, and get that mobile phone on ‘do not disturb’.
Look into the camera
If we were interviewing in a location eye contact would be so important, but on a call this can easily be forgotten.
You need to look down the lens of the camera to create that connection, not off to the left of the screen where they may be visible. This takes some practice but it makes a huge difference and you will look like you are more focused on the call.
Wifi is great but if you can use ethernet (a wired connection) you will have a much better connection and more reliable sound. I doubted this for a long time but as soon as I moved to a wired connection the call quality improved dramatically.
Presenting? Make it a PDF
Sometimes we need to show a presentation or some research.
Have the presentation ready and open on your computer and providing it doesn’t have any interactive elements or videos export this as a PDF.
You can then focus on the presentation and not on whether PowerPoint is updating or has the right fonts.
Set up your screen with some questions
Asking questions is really important when being interviewed. With the earlier start on my interview, I wasn’t prepped. I had these on my phone but hadn’t emailed them to myself so I could view them on the screen during the call.
Get the questions clearly written down. Open them up in notes and have them ready on the screen rather than on the desk or on your phone. Looking down at your phone gives the impression you may be distracted or doing something else rather than participating in the interview.
This was the only part that didn’t go wrong for me on the day. At the end make sure you sign off the call and email over anything you have promised to share on the call.
These virtual interviews can be incredibly successful and enjoyable when you prepare. Thankfully I can put that experience behind me as I found a great role here at ARTO and I hope this has been helpful.