It looks like video interviews for potential new jobs are here to stay. This is a good thing in many ways, from feeling more comfortable to having a cheat sheet next to the screen. As a recruiter and career coach, I host dozens of Zoom interviews each week. Candidly, I hope they’re here to stay long after work-from-home mandates are lifted because they are a confidence booster for a majority of candidates. However, as with any change management, the process isn’t perfect.
Zoom interviews have some drawbacks, and can cause additional issues if you or your interviewer has hearing loss, or your WiFi isn’t the strongest. There are also times when your home is affecting your confidence in an interview and ultimately costing you the job. Here are the three ways your home is keeping you from having the best Zoom interview possible.
Your space is distracting you.
Barking dogs, delivery drivers, phone notifications — you may be at home, but life is still going on around you. Recruiters understand that, and a good one will not hold that against you. However, I have seen these distractions affect a candidate’s confidence during an interview.
I recently asked a coaching client about an interview she had with a dream company. “I didn’t put my dogs away for the call,” shared Maria*, a West Coast-based creative working in media. “I had to leave in the middle of the interview to put them away. From there, I was so flustered, and all I could think about was how poorly the interview was going.”
While there are some interruptions you can’t control, you can prepare your space to limit distractions. I recommend making those you live with aware of the calls you have — a note on the door never hurts. Next, make sure that whatever will be in your field of vision is clutter- and distraction-free, such as a glass of water, a laptop, or your desk. Finally, be sure the temperature in the room is to your liking.
An added hack I’ve learned: Light a candle or turn on the diffuser. It’s not magic, but the scent of lavender can help with any interview jitters.
Your space is distracting to the interviewer.
While interviewers should be focused on you and not your room, they are visual people too. Adjusting your space accordingly doesn’t mean trying to predict their personal decor taste, but rather minimizing their distractions so you have one less thing to worry about.
I once had to present at a virtual conference, and I neglected to think about where the sun would set when I needed to speak. Let’s just say that I looked like a faceless shadow on the screen, and I was stopped mid-presentation and asked to move because my screen “was too distracting.” I felt self-conscious the rest of my presentation, and I’m sure it showed.
Think about the time of day you’ll be interviewing. Consider sunlight, delivery times, or if the garbage truck will be picking up that day. If you can, consider investing in insulated or sound-proof curtains that are stylish and help drown out nearby noise.
Your space is bumming you out.
If you have a love-hate relationship with your home, you wouldn’t be alone. It’s easy to feel uninspired and unmotivated, especially when you’re left in the same space for hours on end. According to a February 2020 study published in The Lancet, “Confinement [was shown] to cause boredom, frustration, […] which was distressing to participants.” Though shelter-in-place guidelines may have eased in your area due to the vaccine, you might still be venturing out of the house less than ever. As a recruiter, I’ve seen this come through in interviews; people don’t have the energy or inspiration to “turn it on.”
Understanding how to improve your physical space and how you interact with it can positively impact your confidence and daily life. To truly thrive in a space, you need to feel comfortable, safe, and seen. Hanging movie posters or creative idols on the wall might be a source of encouragement for you, or you might benefit from a plant that you can care for, or a simple photo of the people they love.
On the other end, I have clients who tell me getting out of the house for a morning run or a walk with the dog helps them feel ready for an interview. Just be sure to factor in time for delays so you’re not rushing home in the minutes leading up to your call.
*Name has been changed for privacy purposes.