The disheartening truth about Zoom interviews

In many ways, working from home can be a boon for reducing stress levels. A recent survey of remote workers found that about 60 percent report being better able to focus on their health and connect with their families since the pandemic, while 86 percent noted they were satisfied with doing their jobs off site, according to The New York Times. Nice work if you can get it, right?

And therein lies the rub: Even if you are well-practiced in the art of participating in Zoom meetings, it turns out interviewing on the platform can put you at a disadvantage. Researchers from Missouri University of Science and Technology asked job candidates to interview with a committee of three people, where one person asked questions face-to-face, another one observed in-person, and the final member watched remotely using a video platform. 

An analysis of 21 job interviews with 84 participants revealed substantial differences in how candidates were perceived, with video observers rating them much lower than those interviewing in-person. For example, one applicant was described as "unprepared" and "unenthusiastic" by the former group, whereas the latter used descriptors such as "experienced" and "intelligent." "We're not saying that Zoom interviews are bad," says study researcher Devin Burns, Ph.D. "What we're saying is that you can't fairly compare them with face-to-face sessions, and employers need to keep things standardized."

Here's how to stand out in a Zoom interview

Given that 8 out of 10 recruiters rely on video conferencing, it may be hard to avoid interviewing on Zoom for the foreseeable future (via CNBC). So what can you do to give yourself a virtual edge? For starters, try being more likable, advises Fast Company. And it's easier than you may think: Try opening with a friendly smile to communicate your enthusiasm and make it clear you are listening by looking into the camera and asking good follow-up questions that encourage the interviewer to go deeper into a topic. 

To come across as prepared, make a small cheat sheet of points and questions to remember and post it on your screen or wall where the interviewer won't see it. Need to get your energy up or calm your nerves right beforehand? Take care of both issues with a quick set of jumping jacks. "It's hard to answer questions cheerfully and energetically if you've been cooped up indoors for a long time," explains GeekWithLaptop managing editor Anh Trinh (via Wired). "Us interviewers can see exactly how tired and unexcited you are for the interview, which gives us a negative opinion of you. Energy and enthusiasm are some of the things we're looking for in any recruit, so make sure you at least act the part."