If you’re a part of the growing Talent network at Braintrust, then chances are you’re going to be asked to participate in an interview before you start your next project.
Before remote work, this meant showing up at your potential client’s office. Today, all of that has changed, and thanks to platforms like Zoom, interviewers are now able to show up in your “virtual office”. That means that in order to make a good first impression, you need to first consider your video setup.
Here are the top three backgrounds I recommend for your next interview.
First, the “Professional Background”.
This is your basic office setup which could include things like a plain wall, desk, chair, and bookshelf. Make sure that your workspace is clean and uncluttered so that it doesn’t take away from what you’re saying–which is what the interview should focus on. Also, keep in mind that a “professional background” may look different depending on what your job is.
Second, the “Organic Background”.
This could be your living space or any natural environment in your apartment or house. While this may be an environment you feel comfortable and at home in, be sure to view it from the perspective of your interviewer. Is it clean and tidy? What do the objects in the background say about you, your work ethic, or your ability to work and interact with their team?
Third, the “Virtual Background”.
A plain white virtual background or an image of a simple office setup are other great options. These can be found online by doing a simple search for “virtual backgrounds for zoom”. You can also create a background that includes your personal or agency brand logo. Make it a point to try out several backgrounds ahead of time, that way you can choose the one that works best for you.
While we don’t think there’s one right background for everybody, we do think it’s important for any background you choose to be clean, simple, and showcase an organized environment. This will make sure that your background supports your interview answers as well as your overall candidacy.
Now let’s talk about what you need to stay away from.
What to avoid.
The best lighting is when the light source is directly in front of you because it will make sure that your face is clearly visible to your interviewer. Avoid the “back-lit” look by not sitting directly in front of another light or window. If you can’t avoid the backlight then you can counter it by placing a light in front of you and drawing curtains over the window behind you.
If you’re using a laptop for your interview then take a moment to create a setup that puts you at eye level with your screen. If you try to balance your laptop on your lap or if you’re sitting in a chair that’s too high for the table you’re at, it will create an awkward point of view that can be distracting for your interviewer. To fix this, place your laptop on a flat surface and use books to make your camera eye level.
Your interviewer will naturally assume that you work from home so showing your living space is completely acceptable. What’s not acceptable is for it to be a mess! Your potential clients don’t need (or want) to see that Target shopping bag or half-eaten plate of food. If you’re taking the interview in your bedroom or in a shared office space, make sure your bed is made and that there aren’t any clothes lying around.
Awkward Zoom Names or Avatars.
Always double-check your zoom avatar and username before you start your interview. Your avatar should be a professional photo of yourself and your username should simply be your first and last name. If you don’t have a professional photo available then ask someone to take a simple photo of you in front of a plain white background.
Sometimes it’s inevitable that our pets will be in the same room as the one we’re using. If so, make sure that your pet is calm and quiet and stays out of the room as much as possible. Having pets running around or making noises is normally cute but during an interview, it can be distracting for you and the interviewer.
You should still dress up for your virtual interview just as you would if it was in-person. And yes, this includes wearing pants! You never know when you might need to stand up for any reason and if you do, you want to make sure that you’re dressed appropriately and professionally from head to toe.
Check your computer battery and internet connection before you start your interview. If in doubt, always stay plugged into an outlet and go with the location where your internet connection will be strongest. Once you’re set-up, don’t make any more adjustments to the camera or internet connection.
Interviews can be stressful, whether they’re in-person or online. If you take the time to master your video setup ahead of time, you can have one less thing to worry about, while making sure that nothing takes away from your conversation with your potential client.
If this article was helpful, be sure to check out other popular blogs I’ve written to help you breeze through the interview process including Top 10 Interview Tips for Freelancers and How to Prep for Your Upcoming Interview.
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