Who hasn’t heard and likely repeated these words of wisdom: “Don’t judge a book by its cover?” Yet, observation plays a key role when interviewing potential employees, particularly when meeting candidates via Zoom. In addition to the normal things you assess in an interview, such as whether they have the background to fill the role and the personality to join the team, you’ll also want to take advantage of any visual clues they give you to determine whether they’re the right candidate. It’s essential to use every piece of observable information to assess the professional, how they present themselves and how aware they are of themselves and their surroundings, just as you would during an in-person interview. Here are five video interview indicators that should raise red flags:

  1. Tardy Talent: Everyone agrees, no doubt, that being late for an interview – in person or virtually – is a bad sign. Video meeting software can be unpredictable, as we all have experienced. But, any candidate invited to a video interview – especially if the job opening is a remote position – should have pre-installed any necessary software required by the video platform well before the meeting. Additionally, arriving early to troubleshoot any unforeseen tech glitches is a video meeting best practice. Not doing so suggests that a candidate either didn’t care enough to allow extra time or had little video technology experience. Both reasons are cause for concern.
  2. Mobile Miscalculation: What device are interviewees using when attending the video meeting? Are they taking the call on their phone (which will appear as a long, thin screen on your Zoom tab), or are they meeting with you in front of their computer? Ideally, candidates use a computer to join the meeting. It looks intentional, like they are planning for the conversation, and are striving to present themselves as the composed professional they are. After all, interviews are opportunities to see the very best in a professional. So, meeting via their cell phone appears more as an afterthought like, “Oh, wow…I have a Zoom interview in 5 minutes with…what was the name of that company…?” And, interviewing while driving is obviously ridiculous (let alone dangerous).
  3. Attire Quagmire: How is the candidate dressed? Invariably, some candidates believe video interviews call for casual attire. And, I don’t mean business casual. If an interviewee shows up in workout attire, in a t-shirt, or arrives appearing disheveled and messy, you might want to question their judgment and/or research skills (since there are many, many resources on proper Zoom meeting attire). Just as you pay attention to what someone wears to an in-person interview and whether they are presenting in a manner that aligns with the image of your company, you make the same assessment on zoom.
  4. Distraction Infraction: What does the candidate’s video background communicate about them? Some time ago, I remembered meeting a candidate who was interviewing via Zoom in her laundry room in front of her stacked washer/dryer combo. Unfortunately, this professional was oblivious to the spinning clothes in her dryer competing for and winning my attention. It is the interviewer’s responsibility to communicate the problem and ask for help in removing a particularly overt distraction. But one cannot avoid thinking that there was a lack of attention to detail on the part of the candidate in choosing their interview location. 
  5. Side Show: Occasionally, candidates arrive at an interview while they are sitting at a noisy coffee shop or they are at home but in a busy location in their homes with children, dogs, and or spouses roaming behind them in and out of the background. It should go without saying that anything within the interviewee’s control that detracts from the exchange will position a candidate in a negative light. It’s cliché but…you only have one chance to make a first impression.

The goal of any candidate seeking employment is to use an interview as the means to present themselves (skills, knowledge, experience, etc.) in the best light possible. With that in mind, applicants guilty of the foibles listed above have likely raised questions in your mind as to whether they will be the stellar team member in which you hope to hire. The importance of taking notice of concerns that arise when interviewing candidates, and then trusting your gut, cannot be overstated. 



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