Interview Set Up + Clothing PSA/Tips

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Apr 28, 2022
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Y'all after obsessing over my own interview set up and then going through some interviews and seeing other people's set ups. Some notes and tips. If anyone has others, please share!

Interview Set Up
  1. PROP UP YOUR LAPTOP: I use a couple of textbooks to bring my laptop up to eye level. Not only does this make it a more flattering angle; but it makes ‘eye contact’ easier to emulate.
  2. Switch out your comfy swivel office chair. Slight swiveling is natural and we tend to forget we are doing it. On camera it can look like you are inattentive. Swap it out. I’m not saying you shouldn't move around (do so, don’t be a robot, lean in, smile, nod your head, etc), but your motions shouldn’t be mistaken for boredom movements.
  3. Have some distance between you laptop and you. If your laptop is a little farther away (just under an arms length away) your eye contact will be easier to emulate and center. When you look around on your laptop it’s less noticeable and switching your eye sight line between zoom screens as people talk won’t look as drastic.
  4. Center frame. You want the top of your head at least an inch from the top of the frame and at least the neckline of your top/shirt visible. Play around with the distance and the frame in a mock zoom meeting.
  5. Background: neutrals are best. Some say position your interests in the background, but only if that can be done tastefully (hanging a jersey on the wall behind you might be conversation starter but can also look haphazard or unprofessional depending on how you display it).
  6. This one maybe not well received, but I have a couple tab post-its with my major application themes (my main activities or experiences, one word reminders (Hobby #2, Research, Clinic etc)) that I want to make sure I bring up stuck on the periphery of my laptop. Many time the interviewer asks, anything you want to mention that we haven’t talked about? And my mind goes blank, seeing those tabs helps me quickly center myself (ex. Actually yes, one of the things in college I was involved with was __ and it really impacted ___).
  7. Test out your equipment in a mock zoom interview. Open up zoom, hit record and answer a few mock questions. Now go back and analyze, did you look into the camera (no? Maybe it's a good idea to place a small thumbnail size post it where your eyes should center). Is your voice clear? If you have a old laptop (hello, me with my dinosaur), check the microphone especially. I bought a microphone off of amazon that was on sale for about $20 and it made a huge difference in how professional and polished I presented. Also, zoom a friend and ask how your connectivity is. Maybe the room you are in has bad wifi, no way of knowing without testing it.

Interview Day Clothing
  1. Ladies, Life Hack: Black Blazer, Nice blouse, Black YOGA PANTS, and Black fuzzy socks. I’m so comfy during interviews it’s not even funny. If everything is black and you end up high kicking for some unforeseeable reason, you are covered and the yoga pants are indistinguishable on camera from dress pants. It's zoom, be comfortable.
  2. Please for the love of god try on your outfit before your interview day and see how it looks on zoom. Does your top match the color of your skin? Do you look like you have nothing on? Speaking of blending in to the background, wear something with enough contrast that you don’t look like the wall behind you. Is your collar so starched and stiff that you feel the need to tug it every minute? Does that amazing satin top you own look plastic-y in the lighting?
  3. Repeat the outfit so you don’t have to worry about it each time. It also puts you in a routine and into a “interview mindset”.
  4. Speaking of being comfortable and trying on things, don’t do something brand new for the interview. If you don’t wear a lot of makeup, now is probably not the time try (your face isn’t used to the feel of makeup and it will throw you off your game). Never worn a bow tie? Great, don’t start. Not used to a tie? Yea, maybe start wearing one around the house and get used to it.
  5. Also on the note of makeup: make sure you know how it looks in zoom lighting.
  6. Hair: any style is fine but ideally your face should be visible. That might mean anything ranging from an updo or just a few bobby pins to tuck in the front strands.
  7. For my people with heavy hair or chronic headaches. My hair tied up with the combo of incessantly smiling for hours at an end = tension headache. I time a Tylenol or Advil 30-45 minutes before my interviews just in case.

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