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  • Writer's pictureAdina Zinn

Eleven Mistakes that Sabotage a Job Screen on Zoom

And how to avoid making them...

Eleven Mistakes that Sabotage a Job Screen on Zoom

The Covid-19 pandemic dramatically changed many aspects of life as we know it, and the hiring process is no exception. Once quarantine orders were issued, employers were forced to pivot and shift to virtual interviews and onboarding. As a result, job seekers also had to quickly learn how to master giving a first-rate impression on Zoom if they wanted to get past the first round of interviews.

If you’re currently seeking a job and want to be invited to a second interview, avoid the following 11 ways people sabotage their initial Zoom interviews.


1. Inadequate Bandwidth

The last thing you want to worry about is your internet freezing up mid-interview. Test your connection well ahead of the interview and close out of any unnecessary windows and apps that might slow down your connection. If you tend to have connectivity issues, develop a plan for securing a suitable interview location.


As dress expectations at some companies may differ between home and the office, as well as between applicants and employees, you should ask your recruiter to clarify how they expect you to present for your virtual interview. While your recruiter might be wearing a sweatshirt, they may still expect you to wear a dress shirt.

3. Turbulent environment

Candidates sometimes forget to consider their surroundings before entering a Zoom interview and set their laptops down on a cluttered desk with an awkward or distracting background. To avoid this blunder, prepare a quiet setting with good lighting and a neutral background. Be sure your table or desk is uncluttered and free of distractions. If you have a door you can lock, do it. You don’t want any interruptions.

4. FailURE to Prepare

The days of blindly applying for jobs are long over. Today, hiring managers expect you to know something about the company you’re applying to, especially in the competitive, Covid-afflicted job market. Give the organization’s website more than a cursory look: make an effort to learn about their mission and values. Know the job beyond the job description and gain insight on how you’d be contributing.

5. Unprofessional Social Media Presence

Keep in mind, recruiters are going to screen you the way they always have. Shifting to Zoom interviews hasn’t changed this. Approximately 90% of employers check social media and about 54% of employers choose not to hire a candidate based on what they’ve seen. Clean up your presence before you apply.


6. nervous Babbling

With virtual interviews in the job search mix, candidates sometimes get overly nervous or uncomfortable and start to babble. Remember, Zoom takes the place of an in-person interview. Keep your answers short and to the point. Also, come prepared to answer the same commonly asked questions; don’t find yourself fumbling for responses.

7. poor Eye Contact

If you want to connect with an interviewer, you need to establish eye contact. On Zoom, this means looking at your camera and not at the person as they appear on the screen. This takes some getting used to and might feel strange at first. To facilitate virtual eye contact, minimize the interviewer's image and drag it to the spot right below your camera.

8. Being Over- or Under- qualified

If this is a potential issue for you, be prepared to talk about ways you plan to bring yourself up to speed if you’re under-qualified. If over-qualified, elaborate on how the position provides you an ability to achieve professional growth.

9. Trash-talking an Employer

Trash-talking employers is bad form. This is true even if your current or former employer has responded to this unrelenting pandemic poorly. If you’ve had a negative experience, be diplomatic and shift the conversation to positive reasons you want(ed) to leave your job, such as new opportunities to grow. Remember, just because you’re out of the office doesn’t mean it's a casual conversation.  

10. Displaying a Lack of interest

To succeed in a virtual interview, aim to display the same qualities you would in-person. Don’t let the comparatively impersonal nature of a virtual interview cause you to appear apathetic about the position show some enthusiasm! Also, don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Hiring managers are far more likely to respond to authenticity and genuine excitement about a role.

11. Not Asking Questions

Prepare a couple of good responses for the inevitable, “Do you have any questions for us?” portion of the interview. Smart questions to ask include, “What are the main challenges of this role?”, “What does a typical day look like?”, or “Why is this position open?”

Transitioning to Zoom interviews is difficult, and many people “forget themselves” as they speak to a screen. Prior to your interview appointment, practice as much as you would for an in-person interview, if not more. If you rehearse beforehand and avoid these top 11 blunders, you’ll boost your chances of moving to the next step in the hiring process.

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