A good impression always counts, whether you’re introduced to new people at the office, at a party, or meeting your in-laws. However, these days, a good first impression isn’t always done in person.
Remote interviews and business meetings are becoming more common in today’s workforce. Depending on your career, chances are good, sooner or later, that you’ll be asked to partake in a meeting where you won’t be physically present.
Rising costs of travel also contribute to this, which is why Skype is becoming more and more frequently used, such as conducting interviews. And although there is no chance of you missing the interview due to a late bus or flat tyre, a Skype interview does pose its own set of risks that you need to avoid.
So, just how do you make a great impression from a distance? Let homify show you…
If you want to show a little something in the background or next to you, a neutral element, like a plant, is acceptable. But there is no need to share too much information. And although you might love your Star Wars figurines or be very proud of your snow globe collection, make sure they do NOT show up on your Skype screen.
The same goes for family photos, posters of your favourite movie or band, etc. Opt for a clean and quiet setting, with a well-organized desktop.
homify hint: Make sure everybody at home knows about your Skype meeting, unless you secretly want somebody to interrupt with a deafening blast of music or by loudly calling your name. Make sure your pets are fed and walked beforehand, and arrange a sitter (or ask a friend/neighbour) if you have youngsters that need supervision.
Wall art are stunning decoratives for your home, and we most definitely approve of busy and exciting wallpaper in the right setting – and the wrong setting will be when you’re doing a Skype interview.
It is simple: a ‘less is more’ wall works best in this situation, so opt for a blank or neutral background. We recommend colours like white, greys, or creams. Light pastels can also work if they add just that hint of a tone without hijacking the entire setting. After all, your audience want to see you, not your choice of wallpaper.
homify hint: Ensure that your clothes don’t blend in too well with your backdrop. A white shirt against a white wall can make you look like a floating head!
For your Skype-less environment, we are more than happy to assist when it comes to Bringing blank walls to life!
Look behind you, as that is what your interviewer(s) will see. A cluttered background will distract your audience, and might give the impression that you’re disorganised. Do your interview in a quiet, business-like setting, ideally in a room with a door.
Opt for a neutral background without busy shelves or cupboards. Avoid a setting that has a closet or wardrobe in the backdrop. And suppress the need to show off your brand new Sony BRAVIA LED Smart TV behind you.
Stay away from a cluttered area, even one with books and piles of paperwork that you think might make you look well-read. And do NOT do your Skype meeting in the kitchen where mugs, cups, dishes and kitchen utensils will make a cameo appearance.
This is no time to practice your pout; however, you still want to look decent for your audience.
Put your webcam level with your eyes, or slightly higher. Most people’s webcams are situated too low, and unfortunately we don’t look our best when the camera angle is coming from beneath (double chin, anyone?). To rectify this, place a few books under your laptop to get that webcam up to eye level.
Experiment with different zoom levels and angles by moving the webcam closer to and farther away from your face. Decide which looks best. If your webcam is at the top of your laptop screen, move your screen back and forth to test different angles.
If your webcam doesn’t provide a pleasing picture, regardless of how you adjust it, you may need a new one (please be sure that you don’t discover this fact a few minutes before your meeting). Fortunately, webcams aren’t too costly, and are made to conveniently clip to your laptop or monitor.
You know how you want the right lighting to work for you on a date? That’s the same approach you should take with your Skype interview.
Make sure you are not backlit – the light should come from the front (behind your webcam), or from the side, but not from behind. If need be, put a lamp on or near your desk to light up your face. Try different ways of lighting yourself, but avoid glare and washout. Your audience wants to see your face clearly, so create a pleasing and clear image for them.
homify hint: As well as your lighting, test your microphone. For sound, your voice should come through without any buzzing, echoes or hums. If in doubt, consider a headset. It is better than having your interviewer(s) struggling to hear what you say.
Yes, even your table surface needs to be perfect!
Use a table or desk that is the right height. You need to feel comfortable and natural, not cramped and hunched over. Should you need to stretch your legs, you need to be able to.
Ensure the table is steady, safe, and doesn’t buckle. A slight tremor on the table surface on your side will look like an earthquake to your audience! Or imagine slightly pressing down on one side of the table and seeing the entire surface, with your laptop, crashing to the floor!
Avoid glass tables – this might allow your interviewer(s) to see your shaking legs, or cause a glare from the laptop screen. And make sure the surface is spotless.
Lastly, keep away from tablecloths. Nothing kills a professional mood as swiftly as a picnic-and-butterflies patterned tablecloth.
Experts estimate that approximately 90% of the cues we give off are non-verbal; therefore, looking the part becomes vital since you’re not there physically.
Take some time to polish up and pay attention to your hair and clothing. It’s always better to err on the side of freshly scrubbed. You may be tempted to wear your favourite sweatpants, assuming your bottom half will be hidden under a desk, but don’t. Dressed professionally from head to toe will save you should you need to stand up to adjust your equipment, fetch a document from somewhere, etc. It’s also a psychological aspect: shedding your loungewear helps to switch your mind over to professional mode.
Check your image and make sure it’s what you want to portray. Women who typically wear makeup should wear some for their video meeting, perhaps even a little brighter than usual, as it makes a big difference on a webcam.
homify hint: Don’t forget to smile! Lacking a ‘live’ person in front of you might cause you to smile less reflexively. Just before your meeting, loosen up your face muscles by smiling before a mirror.