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Managing aesthetics key in standing out during video interviews: experts


By Danielle Edwards

HALIFAX — An eye for detail when it comes to your workspace background can set you apart in the talent pool as the economy reopens after over a year of COVID-19 restrictions and employers embrace the video interview, experts say.

“I think it’s here to stay,” Mike Shekhtman said of video interviews. The regional vice president of human resource consulting company Robert Half said the efficiency of the Zoom interview has made it the method of choice for several companies and has quickly become standard practice.

But Connie Clace, a career coach based just north of Halifax, said she’s been hearing more concerns from her clients about tackling video interviews since public health restrictions have forced employers to move away from in-person meetings.

“It’s nice to have … visual feedback from the person that you’re talking to keep you energized and interested,” she said during a recent interview. “With the virtual, it’s harder to make that connection with the person.”

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But there are tactics prospective job seekers can use to make their video interviews a bit smoother.

To start, Clace said job seekers should be familiarizing themselves with the software ahead of time to get a sense of how it works and how to troubleshoot if anything goes wrong. Doing a practice run with someone else can be a good way to get a lay of the program, she said.

Job seekers should also be aware of what their environment looks like, removing anything from the background they may not want prospective employers to see.

And when it comes to the video chat itself, good lighting and accurate camera positioning can help make the experience feel a bit closer to a more traditional interview style.

“It’s those little technical things that make it feel like and look like it’s still an in-person interview,” Clace said.

Shekhtman echoed the sentiment, adding that maintaining eye contact is a key strategy in communicating with interviewers.

“Without a handshake or in-person body language, it’s important to focus on how candidates can show their confidence and ? differentiate themselves through an interview virtually,” Shekhtman said.

He also suggested dressing for the part, and not just from the waist up.

“I think that putting yourself in that mindset mentally and preparing yourself for that situation will set you up to succeed,” he said. “If you’re almost, maybe, halfway there in terms of your wardrobe, you might be mentally also not as prepared as you should be.”

Aside from aesthetics, Randy Quarin, co-founder of Toronto-based recruitment firm IQ Partners, said today’s job seekers need a certain level of prep if they want to nail their interviews.

Quarin said that just like for in-person interviews, job seekers should be prepared for anything. Before the pandemic that might’ve meant having a printed copy of your resume and portfolio for your interviewer to review. Now, he added, it means having digital copies of those important documents at your fingertips so they can be sent quickly. It also means being able to share your screen if necessary.

However, regardless of the medium, the basics of interviewing haven’t changed much, he said.

“Every interview is just like you’re walking through the door to shake somebody’s hand and you want to look good and you want to be 100 per cent prepared,” said Quarin.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.