May 29, 2023

Virtual Professionalism

Meeting in offices with managers to video conferences from home in our pyjamas; it seems as if the concept of interviews has completely changed… but has it?


The shift towards working from home was so rapid and sudden that we did not have 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?

Nowadays, 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 like any other! If you would wear casual clothes to the live version of this interview, then do so. 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 professionally? 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 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 come 15 minutes earlier to any meeting or interview, but this doesn’t apply to online meetings! 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 our body language if we have a screen in between? As mentioned previously, the first step, make sure that the camera is centered with your face and eyes, but also leave some space so you can 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 ways that mirror the message the other person is trying to communicate to you. It shows that you are actively listening and focusing. Following body language, the tone and manner of speaking are the most significant aspects of communication. Thus, it is important to communicate 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 more practical, they can also put you at a disadvantage if you take them lightly.


Remember these tips and tricks in mind during your next interview and you’re sure to succeed!