Now that so many of us are doing business virtually, including interviewing for jobs via platforms like Skype and Zoom, it’s more important than ever to present a professional image. Although interviewing virtually has been around for a long time, these unprecedented times have made virtual interviews mainstream. Author, speaker, and trainer Gloria Petersen shared tips that will help you prepare by handling all the knowns and unknowns so you can feel more confident in the process.
Before the Interview Staging
Gloria first detailed creating a distraction-free environment. Setting up the ideal lighting, camera angle, background, and overall logistics prior to the interview are key to acing that interview. Your posture, gestures, wardrobe selection, and even your hair and makeup should also be considered. Check out “Practical Video Conferencing Equipment Setup” by Dave Bode for additional tips.
Type of Interview
There are generally two types of interviews, whether virtual or face-to-face: the one-on-one and the group interview. In either, you’ll need strong interpersonal skills and to remember that you are in a professional setting, even if you’re sitting in your kitchen at home.
Consider your eye and shoulder placement within the computer screen. Gloria recommends using a 9 square, tic-tac-toe type of grid that centers your image. Take an 8.5” x 11” piece of paper to create the grid. Fold it in three both lengthwise and widthwise, then use a marker to draw the grid. Hold the paper up to your computer screen to see how you are placed in the screen. Your mouth should ideally be in the very center of the center square, with your eyes on the top line of that middle block. Center yourself as much as possible, while ensuring you are not too far away, nor too close to the camera. Check out “How to Frame Your Webcam Video Like a Pro” by Cindy Burgess for more tips.
If the webcam is too low, it makes your image look distorted and generally unflattering, especially if you’re older. This is mostly a problem with laptops versus desktop computers. If you are not looking straight at your webcam and you’re using a laptop, stack things like books underneath it to elevate the device. This can be risky if the items aren’t stable, though, so make sure to use items that are larger than the laptop. Eye contact is important, so consider sitting at a higher counter with an adjustable stool instead of at your desk in your office chair. A straight angle works best, so sit still in chair so you’re not moving, which can cause your chair to squeak. You can also stand, but don’t walk around, as some people have a tendency to pace. If the interview is on your phone, try to prop it up to keep it as still as possible instead of holding the phone.
Avoid bright light behind you or you may end up with a Witness Protection Program vibe. Work with lamps to see how they light you from the side or front, which means you may need to position your computer or desk so you’re facing a window. This includes if you’re outside, as too-bright lighting behind you has the same effect.
Ceiling fans are distracting because of the flickering lights, as well as possible noise, so turn those off during your interview. Create a simple, uncluttered background with the focus on you – not what’s behind you (i.e., tidy bookshelf, attractive photos, plant, table, framed certs are ideal). Consider using Zoom or Canva virtual wallpaper options if a cluttered background is unavoidable, but choose an appropriate background (e.g., not tropical paradise if it’s not a travel agent position). Keep in mind, though, that these virtual backgrounds only work if you have the correct size video processor. Find a wall behind you, but be cognizant of colors (white shirt will blend into white wall, which is a no-no).
You might have to lock the door of the room you’re in if pets or children are distractions. If the interview is for a daycare, having kids in the video may be appropriate, but they won’t be ideal if you’re interviewing for a banking position. If you can’t eliminate outside noises or you need better volume control, consider wearing a headset or clip-on microphone. Be aware of even the smallest of noises because those noises will highlight you on the screen, so utilize the mute/unmute option judiciously.
Posture is, as it has always been, a visual opportunity to determine your attitude. Sitting up straight helps project a stronger image; you’ll appear interested and engaged, and it keeps you at eye level. Watch any nervous habits like fidgeting with your hair or face or a pen. Don’t oversip beverages like coffee or from a water bottle. Don’t open cello-wrapped candies or snack during the interview, either. You want to minimize gestures/movements as all of these actions disrupt the flow.
Dress professionally in case you need to unexpectedly get up or reach for something – you’ll be remembered, but for the wrong reasons if you’re only professionally dressed from the waist up. Dress for the position, letting your clothes work for you (comfortable yet professional, as well as how they make you feel). Choose solid colors or muted patterns in your clothing; it looks more powerful when there’s contrast against the background. Hair color is also important against the background (dark hair against a dark background makes you fade into the background) and watch for glare from eyeglasses.
Look at your face in case you may need makeup. Moisturizer makes the skin on both men and women look healthier. Subtle lip color makes teeth appear whiter, blush provides a healthy glow, mascara gives more expression to eyes, and a professional hair cut/style is a must (no bed head or wash-n-go). Make it look like you put effort into the way you look so they’ll know you’ll put effort into your work. Consider that accessories like a tie or necklace at the base of the throat help keep the focus on what you have to say, as well as gives insight into your personality.
Practice Makes Perfect
View YouTube videos on how to present yourself in a virtual interview or online meeting, engage in interactive webinars, and practice using the features in virtual events, including free events, in order to be comfortable with the process. Practice being on both sides of the virtual meeting by enlisting a friend or family member to see how your posture/appearance/tone of voice makes you appear/sound (slouching versus sitting straight and conversational voice). Use a Zoom practice session or try a Zoom meeting with someone to run a mock interview.
Send a professional photo to the interviewer beforehand in case the video doesn’t work. You can also set up your Zoom account to show a photo in the case of technical errors, too. Remember to send a thank you email and follow up after the interview. A phone interview is usually okay if you don’t have a camera, but you may have to buy a camera if the job requires it. Remember that how you handle any misstep is key, as rebounding speaks to your character. Good luck!
Kent Norris, HR Manager
Hacienda HealthCare provides a wide range continuum of care for Arizona’s medically fragile and chronically ill infants, children, teens and young adults, as well as those with developmental disabilities. They currently serve more than 2,550 individuals in these demographics. They are currently hiring for the following positions:
• Senior Accountant
• Group Home Managers
• LPN Medical Group Home Manager
• Nurse Case Manager
Some are safety-sensitive positions, with a fingerprint clearance card required. Benefits include medical, dental, vision, subsidized bus passes, six paid holidays, 403B, and more. Go to https://jobs.haciendainc.org/ to apply for any of their open positions.
Jamie Fox, Sourcing Advisor
Charles Schwab proudly serves investors, 7,500 independent advisors, and employers from more than 355 branches. They “see through the clients’ eyes” and put them first. They have ten major service and operational centers nationwide, 19,700 full-time employees and an “ambition to make a dent in the universe”. There are eleven different Employee Resource Groups and they offer a balanced work environment. They are currently hiring in the following sectors:
• Client Service and Support
• Branch Network (Specialists & Consultants)
• Technology Services (Senior & Staff-Level Roles)
• Corporate Functions – Marketing
• Internal Audit Bank Enterprise
Learn more at https://www.aboutschwab.com/careers.
Stacy Petersen, Human Resource Generalist
TGen’s main focus is “Branch to Bedside” (aka Precision Medicine). They became an affiliate of City of Hope in 2016 and are focused on research with neurological diseases/disorders, cancer, diabetes, and pathogens (infectious diseases) and are involved with COVID-19 testing and research (trials, etc.). Current positions for which they are hiring include:
• Science IT – Bioinformatics
You can apply here: https://www.tgen.org/careers-tgen/.
Ashion, a spinout from TGen, has these IT openings:
- Validations Manager
- LIMS Support Analyst
- Genomics Business Anaylst
- Systems Engineer
- Full Stack Developer
- Computer Systems Validation Specialist
Ashion positions can be found on the TGen career page.