Keeping your personal and professional life separate has never been more challenging–especially when you can end up interviewing for a job from your own home. Since the pandemic’s beginning, many companies have brought their job interview process online. Regardless of how the pandemic may continue to shape the job market in the future, we can likely expect video interviews to stick around for years to come. The safety and convenience of interviewing from the comfort of home is a significant benefit for many job seekers–but it has also raised some issues. What’s the best background for a virtual interview, and how can you maintain a professional veneer when interviewing in an unprofessional setting?
There are several factors to consider when choosing where to set up a virtual interview space. Remember, you’re the star of the show in your job interview, so you don’t want your background to draw attention away from your answers and comportment. Choosing the best location for your online job interview is an essential part of putting your best foot forward.
One of the most important considerations when deciding where to settle for your job interview is picking a location free of distractions. You should find a setting where you will also be able to focus on knocking your interview out of the park rather than your surroundings. Start by picking a room that can be closed off from pets, roommates, or family members who might inadvertently interrupt. If you don’t have a space to yourself, ask the people in your household to avoid walking through your camera’s range for the duration of your interview. This will avoid catching your interviewer’s attention and distracting them while you’re in the middle of discussing your skillset.
Once you’ve ensured your interview area is free from human or furry distractions, it’s time to decide what you’ll have in the background of your camera’s range. Ideally, the best option is a blank wall or area without anything visible. While it might seem like a good idea to choose a background that reflects your personality, it will actually add background clutter and information that’s unnecessary to your job qualifications. If you don’t have a good blank spot for your interview, you can always use your video program’s background blur feature. You should also consider your lighting situation. For example, if you sit in front of a window, the light from behind can cause you to look very dark. Always test out your camera before your interview to ensure that it’s working correctly and that your background or blur feature is as you want it.
Members of your household aren’t the only potential source of distraction. It’s wise to find a place in your home that’s unlikely to have any background noise. Choose a room insulated from outside road noise, the sound of a television or music, or other audible distractions. This will help your interviewer hear you better.
While it’s important to make sure that your interviewer doesn’t see any unnecessary personal or distracting material in the background of your interview, it’s also wise to choose a location where you won’t be distracted either. Try not to face a window, television, or anything else that might catch your eye and draw your attention at an inopportune time. It’s often a good idea to do your interview in an office or other workspace, so you’ll be in a job-oriented mindset before your appointment even begins.
If there’s simply no distraction-free and professional space in your home where you can sit for an interview, you can always investigate other options. Many local libraries will allow people to reserve a private room for a set period, and these offer a great, quiet space to interview in.
A job interviewer doesn’t necessarily expect your interview background to be a spotless professional void. However, it’s still respectful to do all you can to remove distractions or any other unprofessional objects from the background of your interview. By taking steps to set up a good interview background, you also show your interviewer that you’re taking this job opportunity seriously and capable of behaving with professionalism. It’s all part of making a great impression when you can’t show up in person.
The era of video interviews may have dawned unexpectedly, but that doesn’t mean that job seekers in the current market need to feel out of their depth. Though online interviews require thinking through some additional details, the most important thing is to make sure you’re still showcasing your skills as a potential candidate. Are you looking for more suggestions on nailing your online interview? Find everything you need from MyTeam’s Interview Tips for job seekers series!