I first started interviewing candidates for new positions on Zoom in June of 2020. I had just accepted a new position as a Principal, and we had quite a few positions to fill: teachers, administrative assistants, coaches and even an Assistant Principal. Local guidelines prevented us from bringing these folks into the building, so we interviewed them via Zoom. I’ve been on interview panels for six teachers
It’s never been easier to interview for a job than it is on Zoom!
You don’t even have to leave your house anymore!
You can sit in the comfort of your own home, and do your interview. How easy is that?
You can roll out of bed and into an interview in a matter of minutes now. Amazing. One positive thing that COVID-19 has brought to us is interviewing during Zoom. It has made interviewing very easy for both the candidate and the organization. I think that we are going to see interviewing change for a long time in education due to this new format that schools are using. The business world has been using video interviewing for some time, but many schools just started with the shutdown.
We are seeing a great opportunity for people to interview now, even for jobs in other states. In most cases, that has never really happened before without the investment of time and money. So it has never been easier to interview for a job.
It also makes it easier for the employer now. They can get a panel of 12 people together very easily. So they are able to get more buy in from more employees, more eyes in the room, more ears in the room. I think that we will also see the pendulum swing back to in-person interviews in the future because companies will realize that they really are not getting a great idea of who this person is in this camera interview. But for now I see the interview game-changing, and a lot of interviews happening in Zoom or other online video platforms like this for a while.
1. Still Dress the Part!
One of the temptations, since you are able to sit at your house to interview, is to not dress the part. I have seen that myself since I have been interviewing candidates since June for my school. Some people just aren’t taking the interview process as serious.
You would never wear a polo to an interview for a teaching position or in an administrative position if you’re smart. But I’ve seen people do this exact thing during this time of Zoom interviews. You want to make sure to dress the part even though it’s an online interview. Don’t dress down. Remember, because these interviews are a little easier to do now, you might be up against more people than you have in the past. In the world of education we’re going to be seeing a lot of cuts happening in the very near future, which means that there will be more people looking for jobs than there are jobs available. Don’t blow the interview and a chance at a job because of how you choose to dress, make sure you still wear to the zoom interview what you would in person.
2. Check Your Surroundings
Check your background! Make sure it is clean, and appropriate. Try your best not to have a disorganized background behind you. I believe that a messy background, a disorganized background says a lot about a candidate. Is this how they will keep their office organized?
Panels will learn a lot about a person if they have a messy and or unorganized background. If a candidate has a cluttered background it tells me that maybe their office will be cluttered. That maybe their desk will be cluttered. That maybe they are not a very organized person.
Some people are using virtual backgrounds in these meetings and that might help you if your bedroom or office or living-room is less than desirable to the eye. That’s a whole different subject: the virtual background idea. Be careful with the virtual background because sometimes it makes you look less professional if you don’t have a very solid green-screen behind you. I’ve also noticed differences on the microphone when you have a virtual background in some cases as well.
3. Be Ready To Go! Be Early!
Be on time! Do not be late to your online interview! Again I’ve been interviewing candidates since June as a new principal and it has surprised me how many folks are late to their online interview. There’s no traffic folks, you can’t use that excuse when you’re meeting in an online interview. Be ready to go. Be early!
Be in the waiting room waiting for the panel to start. There’s no need to be 15 minutes early, I’m not talking about that, but be 5 minutes early. That sends a message that you are hungry for this job, that you’re ready to go, that you’re early, that you’re a timely person. I’ve seen some candidates show up ten minutes late to an online interview and it really makes me wonder what in the world is going on with this person’s ability to manage time. In some cases there have been some great excuses, and I understand and appreciate those explanations. But as a hiring manager if you’re late to a zoom interview from your own bedroom, and you don’t have an explanation I really question your ability to be an effective employee.
4. Have Your Tech Dialed in. You have ONE shot at this!
Make sure that your technology is dialed in. You have one shot at an interview. If you are taking a shot in the dark with your Wi-Fi connection you might blow that one shot at a great job. So take your time to make sure your connection is outstanding. If you have a spotty Wi-Fi connection at your house, consider going to a friend’s house for your interview or to a public place that offers Wi-Fi that you can use. I have seen some candidates have bad interviews simply because of their Wi-Fi or Internet connection, and I felt bad for them. Because you could tell they were good candidates, they were bringing something to the table that we value as an organization. However, I wasn’t able to get a great feel for who they really were because of their technology.
I have actually told candidates to reschedule their interview with better connection because I liked what I saw, the panel liked what they saw but it was a grueling attempt to get through just the first ten minutes. So it’s very important that you make sure your technology is dialed. Make sure your battery life is strong. I had an interview when somebody did not have their laptop plugged in, and their computer just died in the middle of an interview. Again this brings to question what kind of professional experience are they bringing if they can’t have a fully charged, or even halfway charged, device during an interview. Is this an organized person that I want in my organization?
I had an interview years ago for an Assistant Principal job here in Southern California, in a great District that I really wanted to be in. But I had plans to be speaking at the California Athletic Directors Association conference. So they agreed to interview me via Skype. Unfortunately the connection in my hotel room was awful. There was no other choices that I had since I was traveling. And it ended up being an awful interview simply because I could not stay connected in a meaningful way. I had one shot at that job, and blew it. Make sure you do not do the same thing.
5. Your Personality Must Show Through!
Gotta smile, gotta laugh, gotta be loose!
You need to look for some ways to really stand out in a zoom interview. You have got to allow your personality to come through in certain ways that it would in person, and that is kind of difficult to do in a zoom interview. But you’ve got to make the committee smile, you’ve got to try to make them laugh, you’ve got to bring some emotion to your interview.
This is important because the panel is sitting there at their desk in their office interviewing a bunch of people all in a row, how do you stand out? One of those ways is with your personality. At the end of the day people earn and lose jobs through the interview process with their personality, not with what they know or what they’ve done in their past that’s represented on their resume. It’s going to be “Hey, I really like that guy or she seemed pretty cold and not friendly.” So think about ways to connect with your personality in the interview.
6. Be quicker than you usually would!
You have got to keep the attention span of the committee on Zoom even more than an in person interview. One of the things you need to keep in mind during interviews, this goes for in person or on-camera, is to keep your answers quick and concise, yet complete.
The attention span of a Zoom interview committee is less than that of an in-person committee because they are sitting at their desks, they may have several windows open. They are getting emails during the interview, or other notifications, and they can become distracted. So make sure to keep them intrigued and interested in your content, in your answers. It can be very easy to lose the attention of your interview committee on Zoom, so keep it simple!
Chris Fore, CAA has his Masters in Athletic Administration, is a Certified Athletic Administrator and serves as the President of the California Coaches Association. Currently, he is the Principal of a STEM charter school with 1,750 students in Southern California. He coached high school football for 17 years (8 as a Head Coach) and JUCO football in his last year (2017), before becoming an Administrator. Fore served as an Adjunct Professor in the Masters of Physical Education program at Azusa Pacific University for three years. He is a court-certified Expert Witness in athletically-based court cases, and is the CEO of Eight Laces Consulting. Eight Laces specializes in helping coaches nationwide in their job search process, and consults schools to fill their vacant positions. Fore has been named to the Hudl Top 100 Coaches (2017), and the Top 5 Best High School Football Coaches to follow on Twitter by MaxPreps. Follow him!