How to use Zoom to ace your next contractor job interview

The good old-fashioned face-to-face interview seems almost in a state of antiquation due to the covid-19-ravished world we all now live in.

As much as some might crave human interaction and the insights that only an in-person interview can deliver, virtual interviews via Zoom and the like are here to stay – even for the most remote of remote job-seekers like contractors, writes Matt Craven, winning-work expert at The CV & Interview Advisors.

Being able to navigate the post-pandemic interview landscape is essential to the success of your contractor business and there are some ‘secret sauces’ that you can lay on to beat your competition, be the stand-out candidate and ultimately, succeed. I’ll be revealing more tips for interview and CV success on Monday Dec 14th in a webinar you can sign-up to here. But first, back to Zoom.

Covid or cost

The coronavirus has of course forced a non-contact element to the sport of hiring folk, but it’s not the only factor!

Long before Zoom reared its video conferencing head, several online interviewing platforms had already been developed and taken to market. In contrast to Zoom, these platforms are purpose-built, designed to save organisations time and money by automating or virtualising interviews.

They are especially useful for ‘first round’ interviews where excessive client time is taken up interviewing contractor candidates or other applicants who in many cases turn out to be inappropriate for the role – sometime within the first five minutes of the Q&A getting underway!

Automating this process means applicants can be rejected without the ignominy and reputational risk of cutting an interview short, or conversely, the time/cost of prolonging an interview just to be polite. The proliferation of these platforms, coupled with the ‘new normal’ induced by the pandemic, mean that virtual interviews will be a permanent fixture for contract-seekers and every other type of individual seeking work, for the foreseeable -- from high-end consultants to rank-and-file employee-types.

Common faux pas

Contractors increasingly say that the general standard of interviewing leaves a lot to be desired. But what about what you should or should not be doing?

Well, sat there in your jim-jams and slippers is an obvious no-no.

Other lesser-known faux pas:

  • Bearing down on your laptop without giving due consideration to where your camera is.
  • Having the neighbor's laundry on the washing line as your virtual interview room background.
  • Logging on right at the point your interview is due to start without factoring in the 2 minutes it takes for everything to start working.
  • Looking like a cross between goofy and a rabbit in headlights when you suddenly realise your microphone isn’t working.
  • Forgetting to plug your laptop into the wall and losing battery half-way through the interview.
  • Not realising your teenage children are on the internet downloading the biggest ever online video game, rendering your internet bandwidth useless.

Best-practice for video interviews

Some moderate planning can stand you in good stead, so here are my top tips:

  • Have a back-up PC / laptop / mobile available, and plug the power in, pre-call.
  • Make sure your internet is working and no one else is using it.
  • Have a back-up room to go into, just in case your interview goes pop, or the dustbin men arrive outside just as you start talking.
  • Commandeer a dongle as part of your ‘just in case’ tech apparatus.
  • Set your laptop at eye level and make sure your background looks professional.
  • Dress in normal interview / client-meeting attire.
  • Do a dry run to make sure your tech is working, including running an audio/voice test on your headset.

Here’s one secret sauce decision-makers want to see in this Zoom-Covid age

So, you’ve got the basics down -- but now here’s a way to look ultra-impressive in a Zoom interview.

By way of preparation, first you need to master the art of screen-sharing. In Zoom, the host needs to give you permission to share.

Secondly, you need a CV with some case studies in it that showcase your biggest projects / achievements. These are typically 6-line, mini case studies, each written in the STAR methodology.

Once you’ve got all these things in place, you’re all set up to look like a super-star candidate.

When the client/agent asks you to talk through a project or achievement, you can request screen-sharing access, select the case studies on your CV, and talk through each while showing them your super-duper example on screen!

Not only will it aid information delivery, while allowing any nerves you’ve got to calm down because the others will all be focused on your slick graphics, but you’ll also NOT be remembered as the goofy, tech-inept guy or girl who logged on late, looking gormless! Actually, you’ll be remembered as the super-savvy person who not only dazzled the client with a screenshare, but also showed them a case study that explains perfectly why you are the right person for the contract or job. Hey presto, you get the gig!

Fancy some top tips tailored to your own job search?

There is, of course, a bit more to acing your contractor interview via Zoom – to learn exactly what this is, including more about STAR case studies on CVs, you can sign up for our Contractor UK webinar on December 14th here. We’ll also be critiquing a number of contractor CVs live during the one-hour session. You can also submit your anonymised CV for critique during the session by emailing it to info@cvandinterviewadvisors.co.uk with a brief intro about you, including the sort of contact or opportunities you’re targeting.

Friday 11th Dec 2020
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Written by Matt Craven

Matt is the Founder of The CV & Interview Advisors and Linked-In-Credible. He is considered to be a thought-leader in Personal Branding and is regularly engaged as a public speaker to deliver advice and guidance to global audiences on all things related to CV authoring, career advancement, LinkedIn, personal branding and thought leadership.
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