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Zooming into your professional image

By this stage of lockdown, there’s little chance you’ve managed to escape a video meeting. In fact, chances are that you’re suffering Zoom fatigue, giving into the temptation to switch off the camera and allowing your attention to wander to your dog, your Instagram feed or anything else in the vicinity.

But, warns Jo Watt of specialist talent acquisition consultancy Talent Brand, you’re doing just as much damage to your professional image as showing up for a face-to-face gathering in the boardroom wearing your slops and talking over everyone else – not exactly a career-enhancing move. Follow her tips for getting it right when it comes to the next interview.

  • Think of yourself as a TV presenter. We’re talking about framing here. You need to position yourself in front of your screen so that your colleagues are able to see your entire upper body, up to your shoulders. Take care with where you sit – looking down onto the screen gives your colleagues a great view of your nostrils, while sitting too close means they see your face as a kind of close up patchwork, in pieces. And how you sit is also important, don’t slouch on a couch but sit up in an upright chair. And remember to look people in the eye. Make sure that you’re not sitting in front of a window or light source, because you’ll appear as a silhouette, but don’t face a window either, because you’ll look washed out. Be aware, too, of what’s around you. Don’t imagine that last night’s pizza box will escape your interviewee’s eagle eyes.
  • Think about the mood you’re conveying. What people really dislike about Zoom is that they don’t really feel connected to those they’re speaking to. Address this by maintaining eye contact and checking in with personal questions/interaction. Don’t forget to silent your cellphone, in fact any interview etiquette must be followed.
  • Make an impact. One of the reasons why online interviews feel so alienated (and alienating) is because we derive most of our cues about people from their energy and body language. Without these vital signals, we’re less engaged – and it shows in the fact that your attention span drops to just a few minutes. So, whatever you need to say, get to the point quickly, and say it in a way that resonates.
  • Consider your outfit, just because the interview is conducted from your home doesn’t mean you can show up in your PJs. By all means, keep your slippers on, but pay attention to your upper body because that’s what people will see and imagine wearing what you would normally pitch up in for a face-to-face interview. Best advice is to get dressed for the interview. Bright colours are a bit harsh on screen and drain your face, so opt for muted tones. Be wary of light reflecting off your glasses. It’s a good idea for women to brighten up with a touch of makeup or a piece of jewellery and men if you’re sporting a beard, make sure it’s trim and neat.
  • Make the most of Zoom tools. Read up on all the platform has to offer so that you can make communication easier and more efficient. For example, did you know that Zoom has a remote desktop control function (no more panicked mimicking to participants who have turned off their audio), as well as meeting and breakaway rooms? Try these out and see your output, well, zoom.

For more information visit www.talent brand.co.za

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