Getting an edge in the video interview – employers would do well to pay attention as well.

A green button with the words Get Hired on it

So just in case you haven’t heard, there’s this pandemic thing going around and that has, to a very large extent, altered the way that we recruit and select candidates.

Of course, this has also dramatically impacted the way that candidates select their next potential employer so whether you’re hiring or interviewing, read on. 

It’s a really competitive job market right now so even if you’re hiring, if you want to win that candidate over at interview, you may want to take some of this advice to heart. 

According to Mehrabian’s 55-38-7 rule, only 7% of communication is verbal. 55% is body related and 38% is voice related (not words, just tone and inflection). 

When it comes to Zoom or our preferred video software, Gotomeeting, the real impact is felt with the 55% as people can get a little lax with how they present, ie the entire package that the other person sees. 

I met somebody for the first time over the summer and welcomed the opportunity to meet the bits of him below the shoulders. But beyond that, body language is key in building a relationship with somebody when we meet. 

Create your epic movie set. 

Strictly speaking the background isn’t body language and I’m reminded because I once interviewed somebody who was sat in her garage, I recognized the tell tale inside of a garage door. You could try one of these backgrounds ( but also feel free to just have a clutter free background in your home office. 

DO NOT have a black background. A recruiter friend of mine had that a few years ago, he looked like he was in an ISIS recruiting video. 

Lights, camera, action!

If you have the blinds open in the background you have what is called backlighting which makes your face dark or silhouetted. Close the blinds and maybe even invest in a ringlight.

Remember what your mother said, growing up.

Sit upright. Guess what, your mum was right (again) and you’re that much closer to the camera so any slouch is exacerbated. 

Lean in to me.

It’s an odd thing about body language that says that you’re interested in somebody else if you lean in to them in the real world. The same can be said about the virtual world. Just a bit though, don’t muscle in on the camera. If you doubt me, on your next video call  pull your chair back about 4 feet from the screen, it’s almost like leaving the call.

Sorry, did you say something?

Acknowledge the other person speaking. Don’t be a nodding donkey but the occasional “uh huh” or nod keeps them engaged in talking to you. It also reassures them that the technology is working sometimes!

Smile – be happy!

This is a key element of telephone sales, I used to work with somebody who had a make up mirror beside his laptop and would look at it when he got on a sales call. Try smiling and sounding disengaged in what you’re saying, it’s almost impossible, very jarring at the least. Similarly, if you smile when the other person is talking, it’s tough for them to not like you.

Bringing down the walls.

Don’t cross your arms, with one exception. The body language experts say that arm folding creates a barrier that encourages the listener to take a step back as it were. Don’t do it in person and don’t do it virtually. Except. Except if you’re folding your arms, leaning on the desk and up close to the camera, if you can master when to do this it becomes extremely compelling at interview. 

Avoid Zoom fatigue and engage

Who woulda thunk it, we have a new term, Zoom fatigue. You know when you’re at the end of a day of video meetings and you’re exhausted? A big part of the reason for that apparently is that you spend an awful lot of time looking at yourself. At interview, feel free to turn off your view of you, not only will you stay fresher but you’ll also avoid the potentially odd look of staring at something that isn’t the interviewer (oh, look, squirrel!!),

Please, please, please, don’t lean in really close to the laptop with a crazed smile nodding like you’re about to start dribbling and fall asleep at your desk, or at least if you do, let me know and I’d like to record it!