Categories
Careers Interviews And CV's

Online Interviews

How To Zoom To Success

Online interviews are on the rise, offering employers the opportunity to engage with a wider range of candidates in a more efficient manner. Digital possibilities bring the economic and strategic benefits of reducing the time, resources and cost involved in selecting the perfect hire. But how ready are you for this form of recruitment?

“There are two aspects to online interviews – situation preparation and personal presentation. You need to nail both to maximise your chances of getting the job you want,” advises Samina Kiyani, an experienced broadcast journalist, awards host and media trainer. “The golden rule is this – minimise distractions.”

10 Tips For Zooming To Success.

By Samina Kiyani

  • Location, location, location – usually the employer decides upon the setting. But, with online interviews the onus is on you. Choose a spot which is neat, tidy and neutral. Steer clear of intimate spaces such bedrooms, as this is too personal for a business meeting.
  • Unintended soundtracks – consider what is within earshot. For example, you really do not want the sound of a distant washing machine to feature as the theme music to your interview. If the home phone rings, can you hear it? As you switch off your mobile, consider also temporarily disconnecting your landline.
  • Let there be light – ensure that the light falls on your face. It is best to sit facing a window, about a metre away from it. Avoid having your back directly to the window, as sunshine from behind can form a halo effect. Have a lamp that you can switch on, if your potential employer says it is too dim to see you properly. The amount of luminescence in the room is not always the same as that transmitted via the screen.
  • Connectivity and technology – check your internet works and the wifi speed is good exactly in the place where you site your computer. Some have been caught out by poor connection in certain areas. Verify the audio, video and mute functions. Just as you would arrive 10 minutes early for an office interview, log on before the scheduled start to deal with any last-minute mishaps.
  • Max headroom – too much headroom means that the interviewer mostly sees your background. You are pitching yourself, not your choice of wallpaper. Your head should appear 1/4 down from the top of the screen to maintain the right proportions.
  • Right height – placing the computer too low can distend your neck, and over-emphasise your chin and nose. Position the screen at eye height, balancing on sturdy books if required, to give prominence to your facial expressions.
  • Dress well – avoid anything with a small design as the print can seem to waver, slightly but noticeably, on the screen. Whilst white clothing may sparkle in a traditional situation, on a screen ensure it does not reflect so much light that it leaves your face dull by comparison. Stick to simple, structured clothing and dress professionally from top to toe. Accidentally revealing pyjamas or jeans under more formal upper attire is a clumsy approach. 
  • Body language – given that things become magnified on screen, even minor tics can distract. Fidgeting can give off an unhelpful vibe of shiftiness. Refrain from over-gesticulating to the point that your arms move out of screen, as this is disruptive and gives the impression of flailing. Beware also of making strong forward gestures with your hands, as this can come across as jabbing. You don’t have to freeze like an Easter Island statue but be mindful of your movements.
  • Roving eye – you may have reduced disturbances at your end but this may not be true of your prospective employer. They may perhaps be in a setting that inadvertently shows people walking past or undertaking office activities in the background. During an online interview keep your focus on the interviewers. A loss of eye contact can break rapport.
  • Trial run – it can be uncomfortable to see home videos of ourselves. A mock interview is essential to highlight what aspects require attention. Preferably do this online with a knowledgeable person who can make an objective assessment and give you honest, constructive feedback. Are you making one of the errors listed here or are you inadvertently speaking at an unexpected pitch or speed? If nothing else, at least record yourself and replay to figure out what to improve on. 

“Ideally an online interview should feel as natural as a face-to-face one,” says Samina. “It’s definitely a skill that candidates need in their repertoire. But don’t get too fixated by the fact that there is a screen in front of you. With practice, you can pull it off.”

Samina Kiyani provides communication and online interview training at www.saminakiyani.com 

For more advice on interviews and CV’s you may want to read these 5 ‘Top Tips For Nailing That interview‘ and ‘How To Approach Writing A CV After A Career Break’

Categories
Flexible Working Lifestyle

Why Flex About It?

When someone commented on my “tidy and uncomplicated career”, as apparently demonstrated by my LinkedIn profile, I was astonished. Whilst I was glad that my LinkedIn entries were giving a favourable impression, my life behind them was at various junctures full of twists and turns, some beneficial and others more challenging. That simple, casual aside caused me to ponder upon the role of flexibility in my own situation and the implications of flex for the workplace and society more widely.

How And Why Of Flex

“The trouble with this flexibility lark,” I was once advised, “is that it’s all about part-time for mothers.” Leaving the matter of whether flex employees merely “lark” around (we don’t), such a narrow view overlooks the myriad respects in which work and personal life can meld together. People want a variety of adaptable arrangements, regardless of their gender or parental status. 

Although I switched to part-time after the birth of my son, before that I was full-time in varying formats – remotely from home, compressed hours and staggered start/finish. The motives for doing so ranged from fracturing my foot, caring for my father who was temporarily very unwell, undertaking voluntary activities that accorded with my values, and studying for a postgraduate qualification. There were also two instances when I took sabbaticals to be an expat spouse, accompanying my husband when he was posted abroad. 

On each occasion that a dilemma arose, I worried that I would either have to discard the job I enjoyed or compromise on other equally important concerns. After all, we are more than our CVs. Fortunately, things were made easier by having a far-sighted employer who played the long game, coupled with a line manager who was a results-watcher rather than a time-and-motion monitor. When I asked my employer why there was such understanding and accommodation across the spectrum, not only for me but the majority of my colleagues, the HR specialist responded, “we get it back in spades.”

Flex For Life

Flexible working should not be confined to the trials and travails of one person – it affects all of us. With the pension age ever increasing, we are facing a career span of 50 years. With these demographics, is it really feasible to expect people to soldier on unremittingly with set-in-stone hours for half a century? This might be acceptable if life were akin to a pleasant amble on a beach but we know that, instead, events can crash upon us in huge waves and grab us in the undertow.  

As a former Chair of a legal diversity organization, I saw the attrition rate of highly trained people who walked out for the sole reason that it was impossible to find a work pattern that suited their changing circumstances. It is a dismaying waste of talent. Sadly, in many cases, even relatively minor adjustments would have swung the pendulum in a more positive direction. 

Through being a trustee of diversity and inclusion charities, I know that flexibility is required for all groups and at every stage of a person’s life. For example, grandparents need it to help care for grandchildren as much as a young person requires it for disability issues. And it is vital to remember that flex is not only an answer to difficult situations, such as dealing with illness, but is also a liberating response to optimistic aspirations, such as having more space for oneself or one’s interests.

Ripple Impact Of Flex

Should we really care whether Jill can log on from home once a week or whether Jack leaves early on Tuesdays and Thursdays? Actually, these seemingly innocuous changes have a startling domino effect. Such tweaks result in workers being motivated to continue in jobs that best utilise their talents, instead of seeking a new employer with the upheaval that brings. Oxford Economics, for example, has calculated that replacing a staff member can be as much as £30,000, taking into account factors such agency fees, advertising, interviewing, management time etc., with a major expense being the impact of disruption.

If Jill works remotely, this minimises commuting with the attendant extra cost, exhaustion and environmental pollution. Both Jack and Jill remain in gainful employment, paying the taxes that we need for schools and the NHS, and building up pensions for their long-term security. Through flex they gain a better work/life ratio and maintain their well-being, thus cutting down on sick days and medical visits. When flexibility keeps people in jobs, in health and in balance, the ripple effect means that we all win.      

Flex Update

Reflecting on this, I rewrote my LinkedIn profile so as not to photo-shop out the significance of flex to me. Without it, I could not have engaged constructively with various aspects of my life cycle – family, health, education, volunteering, living abroad. Even worse, I might have abandoned the workplace altogether and become just another disillusioned statistic fallen by the professional wayside. This is why I advocate for others to have the advantages that I had and continue to enjoy.

Now is the time to flex and flex for all.  

 

Susha Chandrasekhar

Susha Chandrasekhar