December 29, 2020
Bringing Professionalism to the Virtual World
COVID-19 took the world by storm and changed the professional world as we know it.
We went from meetings in offices with managers to video conferences from home in our pyjamas, and it seems as though the concept of interviews has completely changed… but has it?
The shift towards working from home was so rapid and sudden that we haven’t had the chance to stop and think about the dos and don’ts of virtual meetings and interviews. What should I wear? What if my internet connection is bad? Should I use a virtual background?
These are all questions that have crossed our minds, and here’s what we can tell you,
- What to Wear The idea of attending an interview or meeting from home somehow puts us in such comfortable mindsets that we may even decide to attend in our pyjamas or a fluorescent sweater. However, we need to keep in mind that this is a regular interview just like any other! If you would wear casual clothes to the live version of this interview, then do that. If not, go for professional attire that would look good and formal on camera. You can even test out your outfit on your laptop camera ahead of time.
- Virtual Backgrounds: To be or not to be? This seems to be the ultimate question of 2020 online meetings! Is using a virtual background professional? It all depends. If you are applying for a job as a creative director, then sure it is! You can use one of your cool designs in the background to show them your creativity. Yet, if you’re applying for a job in psychology or business, then it’s better to stick to your natural surroundings. Try to sit somewhere with a plain background, maybe with a wall behind you, or a bookcase perhaps!
- Let’s Get Technical The technical aspect is always stressful, but it’s also one of the most crucial parts! First off, it is always best to conduct these meetings or interviews with earphones or headphones on. This ensures that noise in the background is reduced as much as possible, there’s no awkward echo, and both parties are heard. Sometimes though, the internet might be slow or the connection might be bad. This brings us on to the second point: give the interviewer or host a heads-up! Once you join the meeting, let them know that your connection is weak and that you might experience some connectivity issues. Doing this is way better than waiting for the connection to break first! The best option is to try to conduct the meeting somewhere that has a good connection, but sometimes that isn’t possible, so giving them a heads-up shows respect and appreciation for their time! Turning off your phone – if you’re using your laptop – or putting your phone on Do Not Disturb is also very important so that you can focus fully. Finally, don’t forget to hold the phone or position the laptop in a way that allows the camera to be aligned with your face. Doing this shows good posture and eye contact, whereas positioning the camera from below or above your face seems somewhat unprofessional.
- Early or On Time? Traffic, parking, and unexpected complications have always put us in the mindset to be 15 minutes early to any meeting or interview, but this doesn’t apply to online meetings as well! Being early is important, but being too early may pressure your interviewer or the other person attending the meeting to join early as well. Joining 2-3 minutes early is just perfect!
- How to Incorporate Body Language and Speech Techniques Research shows that 55% of communication is body language, 38% is voice and tone, and only 7% is spoken words. However, how can we use body language if we’re behind a screen? The first step as we mentioned before is making sure that the camera is aligned with your face and eyes, but also important that you place it somewhere that allows you to move around and look at the camera comfortably. Now that both your hands are free, you can use hand gestures – but not too many – as a form of body language. You can also feel free to smile, nod, and move your upper body in a way that mirrors the message the other person is trying to communicate to you. This helps show that you are actively listening and focusing on their message. After body language, tone and speech is the second largest component of communication. Thus, it is important to speak slowly and clearly, while making sure that your voice is not too loud or too low.
Though it may sometimes seem that online interviews and meetings are easier and more practical, they can also put you at a disadvantage if you take them lightly. Keep these tips and tricks in mind during your next interview and you’re sure to succeed!
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