As I was taking my garbage cans to the curb yesterday, I asked my neighbor how he was doing in the midst of the current virus crisis.

“I’ve been doing lots of virtual meetings these days,” he said.

“Although many businesses are in trouble right now,” I answered, “Zoom is hot as a pistol.” [Zoom is a company that offers virtual/video meeting services. – Editor]

Lots of people are still going to their workplaces every day – for example, the heroic and much-appreciated men who picked up my garbage a little later in the day. But many of us are indeed logging lots of time every day in online meetings.

And let’s face it. Meetings that are held on Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts and other platforms are just great. They enable many of us to continue to work cooperatively with our teams.

Videoconferencing and Students

But because we are focused on students, we need to consider another issue . . .

How are today’s college graduates going to get hired in a world that is conducting so much of its interactions via video conferencing?

Although we don’t have any statistics to back it up, we are positive that more and more interviewing and hiring are happening in video conferences right now. And once someone is hired, a lot of work in certain jobs is going to take place in those settings as well.

So, how can a student today increase the chances of getting noticed, interviewed and hired in the new world of virtual online experiences? We would like to offer these suggestions to you and the students you know.

  • Make it clear that you know how to videoconference. In both your cover letters and your resumes, prominently state that you are fluent with the most popular video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Skype and others. Once upon a time, it was important to mention that you were skilled in the Microsoft Office suite of applications. Now, the ability to videoconference has become just as important, if not more so.
  • Clearly state that you are immediately available for virtual job interviews on those platforms. And because you will be submitting your application online, include a link to immediately message or email you to schedule one. (Providing a phone number as a contact point adds an unnecessary step that could cause a hiring manager to move on to consider the next applicant.)
  • If you have worked with virtual teams in the past, highlight those experiences on your resume. As a student or in a previous job, chances are you have worked on projects with virtual teams. Be sure to list those experiences on your resume to help establish the fact that you know how to get things done by videoconferencing.

Set the Stage for Virtual Job Interviews

You want to look like a polished and prepared professional when those video interviews happen. There are plenty of articles online that offer advice on how to do that. But in our post today, let’s cover the basics.

  • Pay attention to lighting. If you sit between your computer camera and a bright window that is behind you, you will not be clearly seen. If you sit with a desk lamp pointed at your face, you will not appear natural. So before you fire up your first video interview, turn on your computer ahead of time, review what your interviewers will see, and make any needed adjustments.
  • Eliminate all background noise. Sensitive computer microphones often pick up distant background noise and increase its audio presence – the sound of a radio or a canary in the next room can become overwhelming.
  • Pay attention to what people will see behind you. Turn on your computer camera before interviews and take an objective look at what is behind you. Try to eliminate all clutter. Dangling electrical cords, potted plants and other items that you don’t notice any more will be clearly seen by the people who are looking at you online. Likewise, that poster that you love so much might not “read” well when seen in the background. Or reflected glare from the glass in its frame can be distracting.
  • Consider using a virtual background. Zoom and other videoconferencing services now allow you to set any image you have stored on your computer as a background, without the need to set up a neutral “green screen” behind you. That can be a good idea but be sure to look at the result before you use these virtual backgrounds in an interview. They generally work pretty well, but unless you carefully adjust the intensity of the light on your face, you could look like a pale ghost or an over-lit alien. So check things out ahead of time.
  • Wash your face or dab on a little face powder before the interview to fight shine. Even if your face is not oily or shiny, bright lighting used in videoconference settings can make it appear that way. So take a minute to prepare before you go on camera.

And Line Up Some Interviewing Outfits that Read Well Online

Every job interviewee knows the importance of wearing the right clothes to interviews. It is just as important to wear the right outfits for online interviews. Plus, some additional considerations apply:

  • Black or dark blue jackets, worn with a contrasting white shirt or blouse, look good in video conferencing calls. In general, it is best to avoid brown, which can appear as nearly tan, green or even yellow in video calls.
  • Avoid having an all-white shirt or sweater be the only item of clothing that your viewers will see. Wearing only white can cause you to look bleached-out.
  • Avoid stripes, plaid, complex prints or floral patterns. Their complicated patterns can become distorted and pixilated when transmitted online.
  • Women should consider adding a bright piece of jewelry, like a pin, earrings or a necklace, which can add a little visual interest. Just keep these items small and not “dangly,” so they do not distract viewers. And although opinions vary on whether or not to wear any religious jewelry, consider avoiding them during your interview. Even a small cross, Star of David or other religious symbols can take on extra importance when worn online.

To Learn More about College and Career Options

We invite you to explore career options by participating in our career and college research studies. Students who complete the free career test for high school students will receive information on college and career opportunities matched to their interests.

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