Never have we conducted so many interviews with people using technology. This is the new normal, so like it or loathe it, you need to get good at it. I thought I’d share eight helpful tips to help you avoid the clangers and allow you to put your best foot forward (or rather face).
1. Test the technology
If your camera is being activated by a different application e.g. Zoom, and you then log into MS Teams for your interview without closing Zoom, we will hear you but not see you. It’s weird to talk a name and defeats the whole point, we could have just chatted on the phone.
2. Dress appropriately
It’s great to be able to do interviews in your slippers. In fact, it feels slightly naughty. But think about the top half. A friend of mine wears a jacket whenever he is on a video call. Someone very close to me was halfway through a video call to a group of colleagues when someone asked him why he was wrapped in a duvet? Another friend of mine, attending an interview, forgot to put anything on at all … that made for an awkward moment. I’m sure you can find a happy medium.
3. Don’t make the background more interesting than you
We can all be voyeuristic. With Rightmove you can see someone’s house presented ready for sale, with an interview you see it as it often really is. So, watch out for the underwear drying on the radiator behind you. A pale, blank background is great. If you do have a bookshelf, don’t do a Michael Gove and have books on eugenics and holocaust denial visible. Better still, don’t have those books at all.
4. Get the lighting right
Your device has a good camera, almost too good. Think about where the light is. If you are sitting with your back to a bright window, you will look like a dark blob, although on the positive side the halo behind your head will give you a certain degree of saintliness. If the light is just to one side, the other side of your face will be dark. Use an anglepoise lamp and place it in front of you or sit in front of a window.
5. Don’t unnecessarily enhance your least favourite features
First impressions count. If the camera is pointing up to your face, you are likely to look like you have more than one chin (perhaps, subliminally, that is why I have grown a beard). And if your nose needs a trim (for the gentlemen) or hasn’t been blown recently or only partially (for everyone), let’s just say that revealing your bogeys are not the way you want to introduce yourself to a prospective employer. Set the camera up to eye level or even higher, trust me, you’ll look better.
6. Exude personality
I’m not suggesting you be inauthentic. However, you are trying to convey your personality and passion for the role through a screen. And most of us did not train at RADA. Smile, be animated, don’t frown or sit so far away that you can’t be seen. Speak loudly, clearly, be expressive … you want this role, don’t you?
You have a limited time to get your points across. The great thing about using technology is unlike in a live situation, you can have Post-it notes on your screen with all the points you know you need to make; and the interviewer will never know! Don’t waste the opportunity by being unprepared.
8. Don’t take yourself too seriously
Notwithstanding all the above, I have loved meeting so many pets online and hearing the general bustle of life in people’s homes. If a someone needs seeing to a child or a dog barks, it’s OK. Most employers are embracing the whole of you … if they don’t like the fact that someone accidently walked into the room mid-interview, terminate the interview and go spend time with those who really appreciate you. There will certainly be a better role for you elsewhere.
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by Ian Joseph
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