Crush Job Interviews While Wearing Face Masks Or Using Zoom

Filed Under: Coffee Break, September 2020 Issue

“If I can just have a mask-less, face-to-face interview, I know I would land the offer.”  This is what a frustrated job seeker said to me during a session. I felt her pain. 

Job interviewing has definitely changed. Interviews now take place either over Zoom or in person wearing a face mask sitting six feet or more apart. Not quite the best conditions to create rapport. But it’s not impossible. And remember…everyone is in this same situation now.  

Those getting hired have accepted this premise as the norm and started working on how to excel within these challenging conditions. 

 So how do you create connections when you either aren’t sitting together or you can’t see half of someone’s face?

Here are some tips for job seekers:

For Mask-Wearing In-Person Interviews

Choose a mask that supports the mission/culture of the company: i.e. a fashion company might call for a mask that coordinates with your outfit; a medical company might call for a disposable mask. 

When speaking on the interview wearing a mask, annunciate words and speak slightly slower than the norm. Many people need to see mouths to hear (only people who experience this know what I am talking about) and the masks can muffle your words if you are too soft spoken and/or speak too fast. 

Use your eyes for expressions. Concentrate on sharing your enthusiasm with your eyes by having solid eye contact throughout the interview.

Say phrases like, “I am smiling under here.” Or verbalize what can’t be seen, like a smile if it would normally be a facial expression that would convey what you are feeling. Being overt about what would be body language or facial expressions can help convey your excitement now that our senses seem to be muffled by wearing a mask. 

For Zoom Interviews

Practice with a friend on Zoom before your interview to ensure as you speak, you come across confident and expressive to convey enthusiasm. 

Choose professional clothing that doesn’t distract from the conversation (or make the interviewer question your judgement), while enhancing the focus on your face. 

Wear pants and/or longer shorts/skirts. You never know if you will unexpectedly have to stand up. So please, wear pants/shorts longer than your shirt. 

Pay attention to your background. Make sure it’s neat, simple, and clean.  Again, ensure it’s not distracting from the purpose of the interview, which is to discuss your credentials. 

When chatting, put forth your best newscaster expression and voice. If you feel like you are over accentuating, you are probably doing it correctly. This is something to practice with your friend beforehand. But I find the energy that you would use in person is a little too low-energy for most people on a Zoom call. Most of us need the extra expressive ‘Oomph’ to come across enthusiastically on video. 

Remember, we all have to wear masks or are doing zoom calls for interviews. So we might as well accept it and do the best we can to put forth our desire to land a job once we share how we are qualified. These tips should help.

Lisa Rangel is the founder and managing director of Chameleon Resumes LLC (, an executive resume writing and job landing consulting firm named a Forbes Top 100 Career Website.  As a Cornell University graduate, she is also a Certified Professional Resume Writer, Job Landing Consultant and 13-year Recruiter. Lisa has been a moderator for LinkedIn’s Premium Groups since 2012.  Rangel has authored 16 career resources found at