There are so many points of view about zoom. “Love it, hate it, a necessary evil, enough – it’s time to see people in person.” Whatever you think, zoom and other online platforms are part of our lives now, and they’re not going away.
If you’re scheduled for an initial job interview, the odds are it’s going to be by zoom. Throughout womensbiz.US there are several articles about online job searches (5 Best Ways to Present Yourself Online, for example.) What follows are my personal peeves and observations about how to be a zoom interview superstar.
Your environment: I am tired of looking at people’s kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, home offices…you name it. And the virtual backgrounds – from bookshelves to swaying palm trees…ARGH! “But it gives you a sense of the person,” you say. Yes, AND it can take the focus away from you and could even communicate something that you didn’t mean to. BUT that blank white wall is not a great solution – it’s depressing. My vote? One of the very best zoom tools is the blurred background. It gives you an environment but is not specific.
Your pets and children: zoom calls have led us to an informality that also is a distraction and doesn’t say good things about your job search mindset. A cat’s tail waving behind your back, a dog pacing back and forth, a grumpy small child on your lap who hits the computer keyboard and disconnects the meeting…not good. We’re a women’s business and so I guess I should be more forgiving. I have tried to convince myself that the presence of the child is fine – more than fine. I just think that it’s not fine in an interview setting – get the job first.
Your lighting: By now I would have thought that everyone would know that light coming from behind you is not good. But people are still lit that way on many of my zoom calls. It puts your face in a shadow. Light needs to come from the front, front left, front right. It’s not that hard. And a ring light is a great, and inexpensive, addition. Mine clips onto the top of my computer. It was $22 from Amazon. And it’s not just the light. Where is the computer’s camera – eye level, I hope. The computer looking up at you (the looking into your nostrils angle) is not a good look for anyone.
A Little Help: My other zoom favorite is the “touch up my appearance” feature, which you get to through video settings. Slide the bar to the right and watch “imperfections” disappear. For me it’s a confidence booster. (You may not need or want it.) On the other hand, I do not recommend “studio effects,” which you get to through “virtual background.” You can add eyebrows, lipstick, even a moustache! These features occasionally get out of sync with your movements and a person with four eyebrows and two pairs of lips is a bit off-putting.
I am at the end of my rant. My point is simple. A strong zoom presence is as important as making a good impression in person.
Are there tools and tips you’ve discovered to help conquer the zoom job interview? Let us know!
Susan Danish, Managing Partner
A successful corporate and nonprofit executive with a passion for problem-solving and women’s leadership development, Susan brings a wealth of experience to her latest role as Managing Partner at womensbiz.US.