Although many of us have become familiar with using Zoom to communicate with colleagues, friends, and family over the past year, having an online job interview on the platform may still be a first for a lot of people looking for a Life Sciences job.
If you’re yet to experience an online interview then the idea can seem daunting, yet it doesn’t have to be. To help you through the process we’ve put together this list of key things to consider when being interviewed virtually; with advice on how to prepare, how to present yourself, and what questions you could ask afterwards to help you make a good impression in the pharma industry.
Preparing for your Interview
The key difference between Zoom and face-to-face interviews is that in a face-to-face setting both you and the interviewers share the same distractions. Given that your interviewer is likely to have chosen the interview setting themselves, this also means that if any distractions do arise they’re less likely to be your fault.
In a Zoom job interview, you’re inviting the interviewer into your space just as they’re inviting you into theirs, so it’s your responsibility to make sure that everything runs smoothly on your end. Here’s what you could do prior to the interview to help prepare:
- Check your internet connection – Try video calling someone outside your household to test how well it works.
- Test your camera and microphone – Zoom allows you to test these before your interview and lets you record your audio to listen back to. Try doing this before the day of the interview in case any problems arise.
- Choose an appropriate background – Find a space that’s free of clutter and visual distractions as a messy space can lead interviewers to make assumptions about you and your personality.
- Find good lighting – Make your facial expressions as easy to read as possible by finding a space that’s well lit.
- Wear professional clothes – Clothing is just as important in making a good impression in online interviews as it is in face-to-face settings. Wearing professional clothing is also a great way to make you feel put together too!
- Limit background noise – Turn off televisions, close windows, turn off your phone and let everyone in your household know that you’re having an interview to prevent interruptions. Don’t be afraid to use the mute button if any unexpected noise does occur whilst the interviewer is talking.
- Turn off computer notifications – If you use them, these can be really distracting and you won’t want to lose your train of thought when answering a question.
During the Interview
Consider how you would usually act in a face-to-face interview setting and think about how you can adapt your behaviour to mirror this virtually. For example:
- Maintain eye contact – When answering a question, look directly into the camera to maintain as much eye contact as you can to build a good relationship with the interviewer and show confidence in your answers.
- Use appropriate body language – Although you’ll be in the comfort of your own home, it’s important to remember to sit up straight and focus on the screen as much as you can. Also remember to show that you’re listening by nodding and affirming what the interviewer says when appropriate as it’s harder for them to gauge your engagement through the screen.
- Don’t rely on scripted answers – It’s okay to have short prompts in front of your laptop for things such as key experiences or skills to refer to, but don’t be tempted to prepare scripted answers. Just because the interviewer isn’t physically with you, doesn’t mean it won’t be obvious to them, so keep the prompts to one or two words that you can quickly glance over to trigger a key talking point.
After the Interview
Asking questions after an interview is a great way to show your interest in the role and that you’ve listened to and understood what it involves. Whilst there are plenty of questions that work well for both Zoom and face-to-face interviews, you could also ask those related to the current climate. For example:
- How has COVID-19 affected your business?
- How has remote working changed the way you work?
- How have you been communicating with the rest of your team?
Given that you’re looking for a role in the pharma industry, it’s very unlikely that the company won’t have been affected by COVID, so asking these questions is a great way to open up a discussion about how the company is managing their work and to learn how your role will fit into that.
We hope these tips have given you a good idea of how you can prepare for a Zoom job interview to reduce your nerves and make a good impression on interviewers. For more help with interviews, visit our Careers Advice page where we talk about nerves, behaviour, and common interview mistakes.
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