Interviews for jobs, like so much else in our society, suddenly became virtual due to the social isolation that COVID-19 imposed. Too many candidates are making poor first impressions due to poor technical choices. Your brilliant conversation will not overcome these choices.
Let’s examine all the components of your technology and your home environment. Improving your choices will ensure you achieve that excellent first impression. Here’s what to do about deficiencies.
Low lighting makes you look like a ghost. Too much backlighting, typically caused by the sun shining through a window, creates an uncomfortable glare for the interviewer.
Position your lights in front of you to illuminate your face well with no shadows. Basic room lighting is usually not enough and typically comes from behind you. Add more lights. Too much light intensity makes you look pale and creates strange reflections from your glasses. If you can’t avoid a window behind you, at least close the curtains day or night.
A messy background of files, toys, dying plants, exercise equipment, and unusual posters imply a disorganized future employee. Clean up messes behind you in the room.
Avoid using a virtual background even if you have a green screen. Too often, the software leaves a strange, amoeba-like, moving band between your head and the virtual scene. A blank wall or tasteful decoration is best.
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Never wear a headset. It makes you look geeky and demolishes your carefully styled hair.
Use an external microphone or the one on your laptop. Use speakers to hear others.
The video camera on your laptop monitor is usually positioned too low, making your face disappear behind an enormous chin. It also means part of the background will be your ceiling.
Mount an external camera on your monitor or raise your laptop so that the camera is at eye level or a little higher. Make sure the lens is clean. Dust or fingerprints reduce image quality.
If you experience image flickers or a spinning circle when playing a YouTube video, your interviewer will not like the interview experience. Confirm that your Internet bandwidth is sufficient using a website like Speedtest. You want the download speed to be greater than 100 Mbps, especially if you share the bandwidth. The upload speed is generally about 10 percent of the download speed.
If you’re using a Wi-Fi connection, use the 5 GHz access point, not the 2.4 GHz access point. If you can move your workstation closer to the Wi-Fi router, that will be best. Don’t move around during the interview if you’re using a tablet: you’ll make the interviewer seasick.
Don’t slouch. Don’t position your chin at the bottom edge of the video image. Never sit leaning back on a couch. Leaning back makes you look so relaxed that the interviewer wonders if you ever work.
Position your body close to the camera so that your hair almost touches the top edge of the video image. Lean forward a little, even though that feels awkward.
Look directly at the camera. Position the video image of others participating in the interview directly below the camera, even if you use multiple monitors.
Locate yourself in a room where you can position all the components properly and close the door to minimize the risk of interruptions. Make sure no one starts any appliances that can add a noisy disturbance to your interview.
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Don’t use your smartphone for an interview. If you try to hold it, it will distract you. Also, the jiggling will irritate the interviewer. The images of the individuals conducting the interview will be too small for you to see clearly.
Assemble all the technology components on a solid piece of furniture, such as a desk. If you accidentally bump against it, the video camera won’t jiggle and deliver a jumpy image to the interviewer.
The web is awash with advice on leaving a lasting positive impression during a virtual interview. Here’s a link to one example page. Read some of this material and practice the behaviours before your actual interview.
With these tips, you can demonstrate that you’re the ideal candidate for the position.
Yogi Schulz has over 40 years of information technology experience in various industries. Yogi works extensively in the petroleum industry. He manages projects that arise from changes in business requirements, the need to leverage technology opportunities, and mergers. His specialties include IT strategy, web strategy and project management.
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