This post is courtesy of guest blogger, Alison Henderson. Interviewing is one of the most stressful communication situations you will ever encounter. As the interviewee, you feel like the interviewer has all the power. If you have been job seeking for more than a few months, it may be difficult to feel confident. The voice in your head tells you this interview is just another firing squad of questions which will bring no results. Our self-esteem is fragile, and we become vulnerable. The last thing you need is to start your interview off on the wrong foot by doing something that is very easy to avoid or correct.
Virtual interviews have added to this stress. Few people feel as comfortable meeting via computer as they do in person. In most cases, virtual interviews require more practice than interviews in person to feel comfortable seeing yourself on screen next to your interviewer. Just as there are first impression mistakes in person, there are just as many when meeting via screen. (And the last tip I haven’t seen ANYONE addressing!), First impression virtual mistakes include:
Poor camera placement:
- Too close- when you are too close to your camera, your interviewer can’t see any body language and humans trust people less when they can’t see gestures. Plus, all your facial expressions (especially the uncontrollable flashes of disgust, anger or annoyance) are front and center. Being too close is the equivalent of invading someone’s personal space when in person. You wouldn’t “get in your interviewer’s face” in person, so don’t do it via computer either.
- Too far away- Some people do the opposite of too close and can look like they are far away. While we can see more body language, you also look small and diminutive. It will be difficult for an interviewer to see you as confident and with leadership potential if you look like you are a wallflower at the dance. One way this can happen is by having the camera positioned too high above you. The perspective can make you look farther away than you think.
- Too busy- Anything in your environment which is distracting should be eliminated. Look at your background. A crowded bookshelf will be too much. You want to be the star of your interview, not the family portrait hanging behind you. Look for reflective surfaces like mirrors and glass which could result in a distracting glare or reflect something else in the room you don’t wish the interviewer to see.
- Too plain- A blank wall is also a poor choice because it can look dull. With nothing on the wall to give dimension and perspective, you can look a little like you’re just a head and shoulders floating in space.
- Don’t match the background- You want to stand out (literally). If you happen to be wearing the same shade as your surroundings, you will fade. Take a good look at what the interviewer will see. Some patterns look great when seen whole, but not great up close.
- Jewelry can be too much. Avoid anything that might jangle or make noise. Be mindful of earrings which can rub ear pods.
Move! You will blow your first impression if you are too stiff. If people say you only have 7 seconds before people make up their mind about you, make sure you change your posture and gesture in that first 7 seconds. It doesn’t have to combine with speaking. Nod and smile while your interviewer is introducing him/herself. Movement is one component to looking more real and three dimensional on the screen. When nerves hit, most people restrict their movement, so record your practice sessions and see if you move or not.
Why is no one talking about glasses:
What’s the one thing no one seems to be commenting on? Glare! That’s right. If you wear glasses, you must be doubly careful you don’t have white glare spots from your computer, ring lights, chandeliers or other light sources. (Watch this video demo: https://youtu.be/4MC-gi53gUU) We know how important eye contact is in an interview and if you have been on any virtual calls or watched live videos with white spots on glasses, you know how difficult it is to see eyes. Want to solve this problem? Obviously, interview without glasses if you can. If you can’t, check with your eye doctor to see what low glare options may be available or order a few sets of disposable contacts just for interviews. Before spending any money, do some tests. Record yourself on a virtual call trying different camera angles and light sources to find the one combination which reflects the least.
Interviewing is tough! There is so much to remember like smiling, eye contact, posture and not crossing your arms—don’t let other “stuff” sabotage your interview from the start.
Bio: Body language expert, Alison Henderson of Moving Image Consulting, has developed proven strategies for improving how you give and receive body language signals to create powerful communication. Since the pandemic brought digital communication to the forefront, Alison has been busy sharing how to come across authentically through the computer screen.