5 ways to prepare your space for a virtual interview
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to take a toll across the country, we are all getting used to virtual ways of connecting. Interviewing is no different, and even as employers start to look at back-to-office plans, video interviews might be here to stay.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to take a toll across the country, we are all getting used to virtual ways of connecting. Interviewing is no different, and even as employers start to look at back-to-office plans, video interviews might be here to stay. Toni Rhorer, director of career management at W. P. Carey, explains “For many companies, the last few months expanded their comfort with technology like Zoom. If a candidate does not live locally, a virtual interview is now a legitimate option.”
While preparing for a virtual interview is similar to an in-person interview in many ways, you must also take some time to prepare the environment around you that will be on camera. This can be tough, especially as we shelter in place with family or create makeshift offices at home. To help, Rhorer shares five simple ways to prepare your space for a virtual interview.
#1 - Let there be light
“One of the most important things you can do for a virtual interview is to make sure they can see you,” suggests Rhorer. “While having natural light is great, don’t sit with the window behind you, which can wash out your face.” Instead, she suggests sitting facing the window or with a lamp in front of you. This will ensure interviewers can see your face and improve interpersonal connection. Also, make sure to test your video at the same time of day as your interview. If you test how it looks at night, you might miss weird shadows that show up in the morning.
#2 - Simplicity is suggested
This tip can a little bit depend on the job, but for most business roles, it is best to have a simple background as opposed to clutter. Find a wall with a framed picture or simple shelving to use as your background. But most important, Rhorer reminds, “make sure there isn’t anything unprofessional in the background. Dirty laundry or empty wine bottles send the wrong signal.” Remember, you want the interviewer to be focused on you, not distracted by the background. Virtual backgrounds are popular these days, but only use one as a last resort if you can’t find a space free of distractions. Most virtual backgrounds look artificial and slight movements can cause pieces of your real background to become momentarily visible, causing the interviewer to lose focus.
#3 - Dress for success (even on the bottom half)
There’s no denying that real pants have fallen out of favor as many people work remotely. However, an interview is no time to get half dressed. Even if the camera only shows your upper half, wear a full professional outfit for your virtual interview. “How we dress is a huge part of how we feel. Dressing the part will help your confidence shine,” says Rhorer. Also, think about how small patterns might look on screen. You don’t want a dizzy interviewer.
#4 - Sound it out
People are more forgiving than ever of an interruption, whether that is a crying child or barking dog. Still, Rhorer cautions, “More than putting off an interviewer, a noisy interruption can distract the interviewee and make them lose their train of thought or become flustered.” To try and avoid this, go to a room where you can shut the door. You can also use headphones or earbuds to try and limit outside noise. Also, make sure you test your technology beforehand. Saying can you hear me? into the void will make everyone nervous.
#5 - Keep it handy
Just like you need to think of what to take to an in-person interview, make sure you keep several items at hand for your virtual interview. Print a copy of your resume and the job description, have note paper and a pen nearby, and fill a glass of water to sip between questions. “Having what you need ready to go will help you stay cool and confident for the duration of your interview,” Rhorer says. “Plus, your interviewer will notice you were organized and prepared despite the non-traditional format.”
With these tips in mind, you can accept a virtual interview with confidence, knowing you have the tools to make a great impression from afar. If you have questions about interviewing, visit How to Ace Your Virtual Interview for more great information.
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