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Zoom interview - what to wear etc?

  • 19-04-2023 9:36am
    Registered Users Posts: 41

    I have an interview for a senior developer job in the civil service. It will be my first interview in about 30 years, and thus also my first virtual one.

    The job info listed many steps in the selection process, but all I got was was a message saying "main interview", so not sure if I somehow skipped some steps, or more likely, very few applied. Anyway they listed who will be doing it and the chairman is a very senior ex civil servant, having headed up an organisation.

    So, what should I wear. Would a suit and tie be "too much" for a Zoom interview, or expected?

    I plan to have my CV and other notes such as the questions I will ask to hand, is this OK?

    Finally, I've also not used Zoom before, would I be better using the laptop speakers and mic, or headphones? And, if the Zoom works OK with the test link (, can I be assured I will be OK on the day, i.e. be able to join the meting etc?



  • Registered Users Posts: 265 ✭✭FazyLucker

    Prepare for a Zoom interview exactly like in-person. Better to go above and beyond than not. Did interview on Zoom during Covid and did just that. Suited and booted, pyjamas trousers..... :)

    Yeah why wouldn't you have CV and notes in front of you. Don't see an issue.

    I prefer headphones but that's a personal preference. Do test call the morning of the interview, an hour before hand and check everything working. Do another 10 minutes before hand. I'm sure technical issues won't rule you out as they just as likely on their side.

    Tip - look at where the camera is on your laptop, rather than the screen.

    Just my experience and thoughts. Others might have different view.

  • Registered Users Posts: 777 ✭✭✭Littlefinger

    First of all best of luck with the interview. I had a zoom interview for HEO last November. What I did was suited from the waist up, then very comfy fluffy pj bottoms and slippers on the lower half. i actually preferred being interviewed on zoom as it meant I could sit with my legs crossed at the ankles so I was comfy (also the pj bottoms helped) while still looking professional.

    I would second a headset over inbuilt mic and speakers, simply for the fact that you will be able to hear them better and there is less of a chance that noises you don't want them to hear (kids/pets running around upstairs for example, roadworks etc) being picked up by the mic.

    I would also recommend you putting a post it or something similar behind the camera. This will draw your eyes to the camera more and make it look like you are making eye contact with the board.

    Hope this was of some help to you.

  • Registered Users Posts: 41 carlandlenny

    Hi, thanks for the replies and a good tip re looking at the camera!

    I'll dress up then and iron my PJ bottoms:)

  • Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 4,621 Mod ✭✭✭✭Mr. G

    I’ve sat on both sides of CS interview panels.

    For Zoom, dress code is semi formal. Wearing a suit sitting down isn’t very practical, but definitely wear a shirt and tie. Have good lighting and a quiet space. Dress up and it shows professionalism, dress down and it shows you haven’t made an effort. I wouldn’t stress too much about it though, IT in the CS is very casual in many departments - interviews are the exception. An ironed shirt is a mandatory requirement. As for the PJs, that’s a personal preferences. Have a water bottle with you just in case you are thirsty or need a minute to think!

    Headset is a big yes. Most of the interviewers will use headsets or headphones. Use whatever you are used of, and just make sure to test everything with a friend before hand.

    If something doesn’t work out due to technical reasons, don’t worry. They can always reschedule. The interviewers should put you at ease throughout and you’ll be fine. Good advice is to sit down 15-20 minutes before hand to be ready, and join the meeting link at least 5 minutes ahead of schedule.

    Be sure to read up on the competencies and understand how a competency-based interview works. Read those competencies fully and know them, the interviewers will definitely be using them for scoring.

    When it comes to the interview itself: be positive, energetic and do not speak negatively about the Government or any state agency. In fact, don’t be negative about anything. Focus on what you can bring to the role, how you have solved problems etc and how that links with the competencies. Use the STAR method.

    You will be asked what interests you about working in the CS, why you applied etc. have these HR type answers prepped.

    All in all, give it your shot and remember that you have to decide if this is for you too. The interview is probably for a panel so they will be generic. When it comes to the job itself, if you are offered, at that point I would recommend meeting with the potential manager and discussing your questions before signing the dotted line.

    If it helps, you will find the process much more fair and transparent compared to with a company. Things are done differently. That doesn’t make it better or worse, just different.

    Good luck!m and enjoy it!

  • Registered Users Posts: 171 ✭✭apkmbarry

    Don't be afraid to also stick a key point or two behind your webcam. Even just a few prompt words to keep a point going, that may save you.

    It was recommended to me by a interview coach to stick a post it on my screen pointing up and saying "Talk to camera" to remind me.

    Funnily during my interview, I was shirt and tie, with jean leggings on. They told me to go get water during the interview (I left it 10ft away) and thus had to expose my untucked shirt and leggings. No comments were made on it, but I would have been crushed if that ruined my chances. A very quick tuck when I grabbed the water and 20 seconds later I was back in the interview hoping they didn't see it at the time.

    I personally think a headset is best, I'd be afraid of the mic picking up the speakers etc, but whatever your preference is fine.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 26,578 ✭✭✭✭Creamy Goodness

    be aware of headsets that have the microphone on the wire that dangles. they have a tendency to drag against your clothing and create horrible feedback to the other people on the call.

    it'd be better to get something dedicated like a Blue Yeti of Elgato Wave:3 microphone both are powered by usb, sit on your desk and minimise the amount of audio issues. They are pricier than a headset but considering you'll be on zoom/teams calls 2-3 hours a day (in the hybrid working posture) it's a worthy investment.

  • Registered Users Posts: 41 carlandlenny

    Thanks @Mr. G for all that info. I was joking about the PJs BTW. The intervire is next month, but I'm going to have a test call with a mate on Monday and compare using the laptop mic/speaker vs headphone (well, the earphone/mic you get with a phone, I have a few of these to compare.)

    Thanks for the info on STAR, that's a good way to structure things.

    @apkmbarry LOL reminds me of that scene in Pursuit of Happyness when Will Smith did the interview dressed in his painting gear. You really should have put on a pair of pants! Yes I will print out some notes and place them off screen.

    @Creamy Goodness Thanks, as I just said I'll test out my options with a mate. Just checked the prices of the mics you listed, I think I'll wait till I get the job before spending that kinda money.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,219 ✭✭✭JMcL

    Having actually sat on an interview panel for the public service in the past couple of days I'll give you some observations from an interviewer's perspecive:

    1. Dress - While I've worn suit and ties even for internal face to face interviews in the past (we'd never break out a suit day to day unless meeting industry or the like), I think Zoom is a bit more relaxed, so I'd say ship the suit jacket and wear a shirt, absence of a tie wouldn't bother me personally, though if you're being interviewed by a senior civil servant, their mileage might vary, so erring on the side of caution might be advised. Below camera range sit in your boxers if you're comfortable that way - just don't stand up in the middle of the interview!
    2. Sound - headset all the way. Don't use inbuilt mic and speakers - they sound dreadful especially if the fan revs up. Avoid external speakers also as that way feedback lies. I'd favour something with the mic attached to the headset rather than on a cord. It's one thing pulling the mic-on-a-string towards you on a normal call, but it's distracting to all concerned if you need to do it in an interview. Somebody else pointed out that they can rub against clothing, which is a valid point. At the end of the day, you are trying to put your best foot forward here, and you need to give yourself the clearest platform to do so
    3. Camera - laptop camera, or any reasonably recent external webcam, should be fine. Make sure the space you're in is well lit though as I find they tend to be universally awful in low light (see also next point). While almost all cameras are top center, I had a Dell laptop previously that had the camera on the bottom left of the screen which meant on calls it was looking up my nose, which isn't great. I ended up raising the laptop for calls.
    4. Positioning - don't sit with your back to a window, or other bright light source - the camera will then underexpose you any you'll end up with lens flare. No harm spending a second or two giving the lens a wipe either. Try to keep the background fairly plain, and if that's not an option, either turn on a virtual background or blur the background in the Zoom settings
    5. Zoom itself - you said you haven't used it before, so I'd check it out first. As you're suggesting try a call with a friend, but also go into the settings from the main Zoom screen (doesn't have to be a call) and check your video, audio, and virtual background. Do a quick check before the interview as well. make sure everything is working, and then leave it be.
    6. CV/notes - I wouldn't go there. You should know your own CV coming into an interview and it's a bad look if you get asked a question then look away and pause. I'd keep it as somebody else suggested to one or two notes. You should be looking at the screen (somebody else said the camera, but you want to watch whoever's speaking to you). It's the Zoom equivalent of eye contact

    Anyway, best of luck, issues may well crop up as it's an imperfect medium with many often rickety moving parts, and allowances will be made (or should be anyway).

  • Registered Users Posts: 171 ✭✭apkmbarry

    Wasn't the best, but thankfully they were nearly like proper skinny jeans, just with a material in between leggings and jeans, very comfy! Just wasn't expecting to have to stand up, but five minutes in I was near gasping for a drink so I kinda had to.

    Yeah as said above, look at the screen when being spoken to, but talk back to the camera as best you can. I found it hard to do when practising, but on the day I was fine. I still think I'd have done better in an in person interview, but mid 30s / 50 got me where I needed to be lol.

  • Registered Users Posts: 41 carlandlenny

    @JMcL Many thanks for your detailed reply!

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