According to different studies, how we appear/show physically to others provides more information about us than we think, and without us saying a single word. Biases aside, there are several indicators that can speak to how successful we may be, how trustworthy or charismatic, intelligent, dominant, and even leader material.
So yes, your first impression is important, especially in the professional arena. That is why we will share with you in this guide information that will help you prepare to show the best version of yourself.
Time Is of the Essence
You’ll get the best results if you take the time to prepare in advance and this starts from receiving the invite.
Make sure you share an email address you use on a regular basis for the interviewer to send you the invite and remember to confirm your attendance. Also, check you have the latest version of the software to join the meeting (whether it is Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or any other).
Find a Quiet and Well-lit Place
It should be a clutter-free space where you (and your interviewer) can avoid distractions of any kind, where you show a simple but professional environment which is key to a successful presentation. It can be a small reading room, a study, or your home office are good options, but if none of these are available, you may want to explore at a public library nearby, a co-working office, or a friend/family member’s office. Make sure complies with the following:
- A neutral background will allow your interviewer to be fully focused on you. Avoid rooms with too many decorations or disorganized spaces.
- Use a table/desk to place your computer and avoid using it in your lap or sitting on a couch.
- Avoid coffee shops and other communal spaces.
- Avoid dimly lit rooms with deficient lamps.
If you are near a window, try to be facing it, not back to it. Natural light is always better, but if there’s nothing for you to do, use a lamp.
Use Proper Equipment
- Set your connections: Reliable and stable internet connection is a must so if you come across a lagging/unstable connection you should have a backup source, your cellphone data usually can assist with this.
- Check your audio setting: If your selected space has unavoidable background noise, using headphones with a microphone can help with this by reducing the reflective sound. When you meet remember to keep your mic muted while you are not speaking.
- Configure your camera: Place it at an angle that your face can be clearly seen, preferably on a screen in front of you so you can look straight to the people meeting with you. Play a bit with the brightness, contrast, and noise of the image if needed. If you don’t have a camera available, your cellphone camera will work just fine.
- Clear your desk space (virtually and physically): Close any windows, tabs, or applications on your computer that you’re not using while you meet. You may have to share the screen any time during the interview. Do keep a notepad and pen/pencil for you to take notes.
Dresscode is Also Important
Getting dressed professionally will help you get yourself into the mindset for success. You can research the company to determine how formal their workplace is but a business casual dress code will almost always be the best option. A laid-back casual look can also work but beware to look unkempt.
Here’s what you should avoid:
- Using slouchy or oversized sweaters, ill-fitting clothes, plunging, or too-low necklines that expose your body.
- Using hats or caps, or too many accessories. If you do use them, avoid chunky, large, or distracting bracelets, necklaces, and earrings.
- Avoid using too much make-up.
- Looking disheveled or like you haven’t shower in days
Prepare Yourself: Build Body Language and Rapport
To get used to the technology and the body language of a video interview, it’s useful to do some practice video calls with your friends or family members and ask them to give you candid feedback about your appearance and body language. Practice can make all the difference in your interviews, do it until things start to feel natural and you’ll find your confidence growing as you become more comfortable in front of the camera.
Here are some tips for you to take into consideration to prepare:
- Eye contact: Avoid the instinct to look directly at your interviewer on the screen while you’re answering a question. Instead, when you speak, you want to direct your gaze at the webcam. When you’re listening, you can look back at the screen.
- Convey optimism with your body language: One way to achieve this is to have good posture. Sit in your chair with your back straight and your shoulders open. Feet can be planted on the floor and arms can rest in your lap or on the desk.
- Reflect you are paying attention: When you’re listening, nod and smile when appropriate to communicate that you’re giving them your full attention. Use hand gestures when it feels appropriate and keep your movements close to your body. Avoid fidgeting or letting your gaze drift away from your device.
- Read the room’s vibe: If your interviewer seems like they prefer concise, to-the-point answers, do not try to fit additional conversation into the interview. If they start your meeting with casual conversation, use this time to answer their questions and ask questions back in return. Avoid personal or sensitive topics and take an actual interest in the interviewer.
- Set your record straight and stay true to yourself: If you get a question that is unexpected, make sure to stay poised and take a moment to collect your thoughts. Interviewers will look for how you express yourself to understand whether you are a good fit for the company. Prepare to convey your confidence and personality, and to have a natural conversation
- Don’t forget your manners: As with any job interview, you should conclude by thanking the interviewer for their time.
What to Do if Something Goes Wrong
With technology, there’s always a chance things could go wrong. Here are some backup plans to have ready just in case.
- If your video or audio stops working: Keep your interviewer’s email in hand before the interview and reach them if you experience technical difficulties. If the video cuts out, let them know and ask if you can continue the interview by phone or if you can reschedule.
- If noise interrupts the conversation: Apologize for the interruption and ask for a few moments until the noise has subsided. You may want to mute the microphone if the noise is severe.
- If someone enters the room unexpectedly: If family members, housemates, or pets enter the room while you’re interviewing, apologize to the interviewer, ask for a few moments, mute your microphone and turn off your camera, and then step away to deal with the interruption. Make sure that the room is secure before beginning the interview again.
Remember to follow up with your recruiter or interviewer about how the meeting went or if there’s feedback for you. Be attentive to what you need to improve and demonstrate you are interested in getting the position. You’ll never know if this new opportunity is the one changing your life.