Categories
Careers Interviews And CV's

Make your CV land an interview

Are you struggling to land that interview and wondering why? There could be several reasons for this and we explore these further in our blog:

Is your personal statement engaging?

You have approximately 6 seconds to grab your reader and get your CV read. Write a snappy introduction stating the industries you have excelled in and skills you can bring to the role. What value do you bring? What is your USP? Make your introduction relevant to the role.

Have you spent time tailoring your CV?

You need to be tailoring your core CV for each job application.  It’s far better to apply for a few jobs well and spend time tailoring your CV for these positions, than to send your CV out on mass.

Tailoring your CV does not need to take long. Spend 30 minutes tweaking your core CV so that it reflects what the employer is looking for and what skills and achievements are of importance to them. Include some of the keywords used in the job description to beat those applicant tracking systems.

Is the contents of your CV relevant?

There is no need to list every single job you have ever held. Keep it relevant to the job you are applying for – what skills and aspects of previous roles are going to help you land this job? Ensure you tell the reader about the most relevant experiences, qualifications, achievements and skills you have early on in your CV. Avoid leaving the best for last as your CV may not be read to the end.

Are you using meaningless soundbites?

It is easy to fall into the trap of reeling off soundbites in your CV and regurgitating the job description. For instance stating that you are a hard-working, team player with excellent attention to detail. This is not going to help you to stand out from the crowd and tells the reader very little about you. 

Instead, take these key words and weave them into your CV in your own words. Go that step further and provide evidence to support these statements, quantifying your skills and achievements where you can.

Is your CV inviting to read? 

Your CV needs to be short, easy and inviting to read. Aim for 1-2 pages. Your CV is essentially your career highlights and a sales pitch, rather than a list of everything you have ever done. Keep paragraphs short, make use of bullet points and utilise white space. A simple, short format will keep your reader happy.

Are you proofreading your CV?

The contents of your CV may be great but spelling and grammar can let you down at the last hurdle and lead to your CV ending up in that ‘no’ pile. Spend time proofreading your CV for spelling, punctuation, grammar and format.   Use a free download like Grammarly to check your grammar, spelling and punctuation as you write.

It’s very easy to overlook these aspects of CV writing but they are quick to remedy.  When you’ve finished writing your CV, imagine you are picking it up for the first time. What jumps out at you? Is that what you intended? What changes do you need to make to pass the five-second glance?

If you’re not sure, ask someone else to review it for you, a fresh pair of eyes may spot what you’ve missed.

These quick tips will help ensure your CV is read and increases your chances of landing that interview.

Need some expert help with your CV?

Our Mastering CVs course makes it easier for you to quickly refresh and update your CV so that you are ready to market your expertise successfully and secure that interview.

We will give you templates and guide you step-by-step through the process of writing your CV. We’ll explain how to structure your CV, what to write for each section, how to handle career gaps and how to tailor your CV for the job you want. We will help you to present yourself successfully as the perfect candidate for the job.

Find out more here: https://bit.ly/careercoachingprogrammes

Book in for a free 20 minute career consultation: https://bit.ly/careerconsultcp

Discover where to look for flexible jobs: https://bit.ly/flexjobsites

By Coaching Partners, Becky Wilding-Jones and Rachel Veal

Categories
Equality and Diversity Flexible Working Future of work Interviews And CV's

Job Description: The Future is Output-Based

The first step in recruitment is creating a job description. Yet while evolution has effected other aspects of recruitment, it has past right by job descriptions. We have had the same outdated format and content for decades, and it is massively understated the negative effect this has on candidates and employers alike. From ridiculous experience requirements to asking for redundant skills, businesses have gone unchallenged on this topic for long enough. The future is now and the future is output-based.

The “Ideal” Candidate does not Exist

Businesses need to manage their expectations when it comes to recruitment. All too often job descriptions contain a phrase that is counter productive to say the least. Many job descriptions contain the phrase “the ideal candidate will have:”. If you are a recruiter writing a job description, let me stop you right there, because this phrase tends to be followed by a long list of unrealistic expectations and you are setting up everyone involved (yourselves included) to fail. The majority of candidates will not apply based off of the fact they do not meet every single one of these needs. A small minority will lie and apply anyway just to take their chances.

The chances of you finding someone who ticks everyone of those 30 boxes are slim to none. The literal definition of the word “ideal” is satisfying one’s conception of what is perfect, existing only in their imagination and unlikely to become a reality. No human has achieved perfection since the beginning of our existence so how can it be expected from your applicants? The bottom line is your not going to get what your asking for and realistically a job description should not be about the candidate in the first place.

The Practice of Inclusivity Creates Exclusivity

Since society is making a genuine effort to be more diverse and inclusive across the board, business are trying to do the same with their workforce. When recruiting, employers now factor in; gender, BAME, LGBTQ+ and Neurodiversity as a plus. Within job descriptions, employers will even say they are committed to creating a diverse and inclusive working environment. However by actively including certain groups you are excluding others, there is something of a paradox there; you cannot be inclusive without being exclusive. This is called positive discrimination, which is a contradiction in terms in and of itself. It can be argued that by definition; discrimination in any form cannot be positive.

The whole point of diversity and inclusion is to create equality. If you are favouring someone because on their gender, sexuality or race then that is just a different brand of exclusivity. So a white, heterosexual male is automatically at a disadvantage regardless if they are just as capable of doing the job as other applicants who fall under the above categories? Is this not just more of the same issue in a different form? If every organisation does this then inclusivity is just an illusion that we are kidding ourselves with. The only way to be truly inclusive is to take inclusivity completely out of the equation and out of the job description.

Generic Job Descriptions don’t lead to Quality Candidates

Many business don’t put enough time and effort into the job descriptions. The format is so out-dated that businesses to tend to throw generic essential requirements in without thinking, or they overload it with paragraph after paragraph of information about the company. Yet they include very little about the roll itself. This is not appropriate, a full summary of the company comes later in the recruitment process not the beginning. And if the candidate really wants the job they will do their research on the company beforehand. A job description is a job description, not a company description and not a candidate description.

Another issue is the throwaway skills recruiters have in their job descriptions. What is a generic skill to an employer can be a deal breaker for an applicant. This issue particularly affects neurodiverse people. Neurodiverse people are some of the most talented people on the planet and yet so few are in employment today. They perceive things differently, so if they see a skill in a job description they do not have, they will take it no further. Though this does not just include neurodiverse people, many applicants move on when they see an essential skill that they do not have. Yet the role itself does not require the skills the job description asks for. A job where the person predominantly works alone does not require great interpersonal skills. But the at the end of the day, none of these should be included in a job description.

The Output-Based Job Description

So what is an output-based job description? Simple; you take the candidate: their skills, qualifications and experiences out of it. You also take the company out of it; no mission statements, passions, goals etc. A short two to three line introduction on what the company does is the most that should be in a job description. The rest of it is solely about the role itself and the output of the person within said role and what their day to day duties will be. It should be based off of what an existing or past employee within that role does. Or with a new role, the purpose of it and why it was created should be made abundantly clear. There should be no abbreviations of what skills these duties will require, if the description of said duties is clear and precise the candidate will know if they are cable or not.

Take all labels out of the equation no; ‘diversity & inclusion’ or ‘flexible working’. These labels, regardless of intent, are creating an unconscious bias that contradicts their meaning. The most inclusive way to form a job description is to not include any labels whatsoever, this is the mark of true inclusion. This will ensure that the right candidates apply for the role as opposed to candidates trying to be perfect for the role. This is the future of the job description. If we as a society hope to abolish all forms of discrimination and promote true equality within the workplace. It will give everyone the same chance, no one individual will have an advantage over another. This will of course have a domino effect on the entire recruitment process, but a positive one none the less. But one step at a time and its time to take that first step.

#OUTPUTChallenge

We at Find Your Flex challenge you and your business to take part in our #OUTPUTChallenge type form: https://findyourflex.typeform.com/to/I523nXuA. Be the pioneer businesses in creating a better Future of Work for candidates and businesses alike! Businesses will create their 3 best Output Job Descriptions and the winner will receive 100 business credits with us for a whole year and will also be the core focus of our press release on the ‘Future of Work’. The future is now, cement your part in it by taking the challenge!

Categories
Careers Interviews And CV's

Top 10 Tips for a Compelling LinkedIn Profile

You need to be on LinkedIn. So many hundreds of millions of people have joined. These days, it looks strange not to be at the party. 98% of recruiters use it as a database and employers regularly access it to check out candidates. Your LinkedIn profile is also a fantastic way to build your personal brand, create a persuasive online presence, source new leads and network virtually. 

But merely having a profile is not enough. It has to be stellar to make you stand out.   

Use visuals for impact

Access our blogpost entirely devoted to this topic here. In short, use a smart headshot, customise your background banner, use the feature function to showcase blogs and vlogs, utilise symbols and other formatting, and link to logos. 

Get a custom public profile url

Linkedin assigns every user a clunky url full of random characters and numbers. Alter this to a shorter one which is easier to put on CVs, business cards and websites. LinkedIn also has a badge to place on your website. Your url will start www.linkedin.com/in – but you can add more individualised wording after that. 

Make the headlines

Most headlines are just a current job title as this what LinkedIn auto-fills. But the headline offers more character space which you can use to reference other experiences, qualities and values. Leaving it lonesome is a missed opportunity to make a striking and powerful statement. Consider “Speaker and Blogger on Parenting” and the more memorable tagline of “Solo Dad, Writer, Public Speaker, Blogger, Master of Ceremonies, Advocate for Equality and Change.”

Call to recruiters

LinkedIn has a spot which allows you to show that you are open to job opportunities. Limit viewing rights so that only recruiters can see this, as you presumably do not want your current boss to have advance notice of your plans.

Elevator pitch

Your LinkedIn profile has an ‘About’ section near the header. Many leave this blank or under-optimise by discussing solely a current job position. Neither of these approaches gives a sharp overview or entices busy people to press on. You need to create a hook fast because other profiles are just a click away. For a sparkling start, use this opening section as an elevator pitch distilling your career to date and targeting your offering. 

Storyboarding

Your LinkedIn Profile ‘Experience’ section should tell your professional story using compelling language. Access our blogpost on word choice here

  • Summarise key achievements, accomplishments and attributes
  • Quantify success – instead of “grew sales”, state “grew sales by 50%” 
  • Use bullet points to break up the text and leave white space
  • Be selective about what you cite. People want to a quick scan, not a deep read 
  • LinkedIn has a separate part for honours, awards, courses, publications, languages so you can place info under those headings to avoid cluttering the ‘Experience’ section.

Skills and recommendations

Audit your character and career to ascertain what you can bring to the table. Recruiters often search using keywords and job ads list required core competencies. Do you have them? You can also ask for endorsements for these skills or more specific recommendations from other LinkedIn users to increase your credibility.

Engage

Log in frequently and join groups related to your subject area, education or interests. Post updates or at least make pertinent comments on posts in your feed. Keep it professional – you could refer to business books/articles you have read, seminars given or attended, or the latest statistics and industry developments.                                                             

Know when to disengage

LinkedIn is for business so omit snaps of holidays, social evenings out, weddings etc. Beware of releasing confidential information or stating anything embarrassing to an employer. And this is not the forum to air grievances.

Refrain from descending into heated online exchanges or unnecessary point proving – disagree politely. LinkedIn has a digital footprint so anybody can scroll through your activity and draw unflattering conclusions based on off-the-cuff remarks. To err on the side of caution, review your LinkedIn history and delete anything that could come back to haunt you.  

Connect

LinkedIn is a good way of staying in touch with people you already know. But it is also an effective means of widening your network. 

If you ask a stranger to connect, add a reason why it would be beneficial to accept your invitation. After all you would not march up to someone, foist your business card on them, and then stalk off in silence. Perhaps you have a common acquaintance, a shared employment field, similar volunteering or a passion for a cause. Whilst tempting to link to anybody anywhere, in the long run your time is more efficiently spent nurturing valuable contacts that you can leverage.

Your LinkedIn Profile In Summary

Creating a LinkedIn profile is akin to planting a garden. Once the spade work is done to get it in shape, you still have to keep pruning and tending. But it looks great when it’s in bloom.

Susha Chandrasekhar

Categories
Careers Interviews And CV's

LinkedIn Profile – 5 Ways to Add Visual Impact

When it comes to LinkedIn, much attention is sensibly devoted to finding exactly the right phrases to reflect careers, experience and values. But the old adage that a picture speaks a thousand words still remains true. Follow these 5 pointers to boost your Linkedin presence through visual impact.

Upload A Professional Photo

Profiles with photos are 12 times more likely to clicked on and 36 times more liable to receive a message than those without.

 A studio portrait is best but not strictly necessary. Select a well-lit, high-resolution headshot with good posture. Dress smartly as this is business, not Facebook. Unless relevant to your job, avoid anything that shows you doing a hobby such as cycling etc. Use LinkedIn’s crop and filter functions to get your image spot on – your face should take up at least 50% of the frame. It should be a solo picture. 

Photo of Cheney Hamilton
Photo of Cheney Hamilton

Adopt a positive and engaging expression. No need to grin like a toothpaste ad but a stern countenance radiates less warmth. Ditch fussy backgrounds and heavily patterned clothing. Ensure the photo depicts you accurately. Arriving at an interview looking rather different can be disconcerting for others.

The best size for your Linkedin portrait photo is 400 x 400px.

Modify Your Linkedin Background Image

LinkedIn provides a background, which sits behind the headshot, where you can insert a relevant image. This could be your company logo, a cityscape of where you are based, your ideal workspace, the front cover of a book you have written or a picture of you speaking at an event. 

Linkedin Banner – Rebecca Amin

Due to its size, the background photo is the first thing that a visitor’s eye will land on. Do not settle for the default option – it’s a lost chance to pack a punch and create a unique identity. For example, career coach Rebecca Amin, has chosen “Dare to Begin” that acts as an incentive for visitors to her profile to take action.

The best size for the Linkedin background photo is 1584 x 396px.

Use The Featured Section And Embed Function

Have you written an article or a blogpost or made a video/vlog that you can reference? If so, place these in the featured section at the top of your page or embed in a career entry. 

This is one way in which LinkedIn has more force than a paper copy CV. You can present more about yourself than on two A4 pages, so don’t miss this opportunity.

Site visitors and recruiters are too busy to  look for you in multiple places online. Make life straightforward for them by signalling your media output.

Formatting Your Copy

Linkedin entries can become densely written which makes them energy-sapping to scan. It is also harder to pinpoint key achievements. Whilst a profile benefits from detail, it also needs white space to be reader-friendly. 

  • Bullet points and numbering can provide formatting solutions. 
  • You can also cut and paste colourful icons from online resources. 
  • Ensure the symbols you select are professional.
  • Do not overuse icons to the point that they detract from your message.

LinkedIn does not provide a method of adding words in bold or italics. To do this, type Unicode Text Converter into Google to access a number of sites which allow you to insert phrases which are then transformed into bold and/or italics. Simply cut and paste the newly “converted” words into a LinkedIn entry. 

Grey Matter – Making Visual Connections

You can connect each LinkedIn entry to a LinkedIn page belonging to the company you worked for or the institution you studied at. Do this wherever possible, as a line of bright logos conveys more information and is more visually enticing than a string of dull grey boxes. Sometimes a grey box is inevitable but minimise this. 

Use Linkedin links to institutes or companies

If you cannot find a specific link, consider connecting to pages that are generic. For example, if you took a career break to see more of the world, you could link to a general travelling LinkedIn page. 


Make Your Linkedin Profile Colourful And Interesting – Just Like Yourself.

LinkedIn is your digital reputation, your online calling card. We all react strongly to visuals and live life in colour, so do not overlook these as important aspects to integrate into your profile.

Need some CV Tips?

Try these…

CV Clinic: 10 Tips for choosing the right words.

Online Interview Tips

Categories
Career Change Careers Interviews And CV's

Career Wheel

Assessing and Handling Your Strengths and Weaknesses

When seeking a new job or trying to progress in a chosen path, there are so many aspects to consider. Many people understandably feel overwhelmed. A multitude of matters demand attention but you may experience trouble in categorising them, prioritising them and tackling them optimally. The career wheel is an effective technique to assist with these concerns.

Fill In The Wheel

Print off a copy of the large wheel shown. Identify the 8 most important features of your job search or career progression. 

For example, you might select any of the following – check online recruitment noticeboards, research employers’ websites, rewrite CV and improve presentation skills. 

You may also opt for increasing confidence, interview tips, sourcing childcare, organising finances, expanding a network of contacts, or even buying appropriate business attire. 

Write these on the edge of the wheel with each feature taking up one segment.

Rate yourself out of 10 on each one. How well are you doing at the moment? Be honest but also be fair to yourself.  

Place a dot on each score in each segment in the 1-10 line. Join these dots together in the manner shown in the small diagram.

What Shape Are You In?

Is your wheel a large, clean circle or does it look more like the uneven, bumpy ride shown in the small diagram? Whatever the outcome, you can immediately see where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

Take A Balanced View

Avoid the mistake of concentrating solely on the “lowness” of some scores, which can lead into a downward spiral of negativity. Instead, look at each ranking, whatever it may be, and give yourself credit for what you have achieved by this stage in your career. Assigning due notice to your positive attributes and your journey so far is vital both in terms of creating a realistic skills audit and in engendering an upbeat perception of yourself.

Ordering Your Needs

The next issue to be determined is the order in which you confront each segment. There are various strategies that you can adopt to help you decide.

  • What is the lowest score? – usually the weakest point attracts immediate attention and you may feel this needs to be managed in a timely manner.

  • Which would be the easiest to implement? – if buying business clothing is a necessity, you may opt for this as it is relatively straightforward to achieve (compared to working on aspects of your character). Do not underestimate the power of quick wins in building confidence.

  • What would have the biggest impact? – if presentation skills are going to make or break your chances, you may wish to enhance these even if you already have a reasonably good score in this respect.

  • What appeals most? – if you have similar scores and nothing stands out, choose what you might enjoy most in developing. This way you can build your motivation.

  • Which is the most cost effective? – resources are finite and improvement may be most helpful when undertaken in an economically conscious manner.

Action Plan

Assessment is of limited value without a plan of action to back it up. For example, assume that you decide to focus on updating your skills. Perhaps, in the past, this was a sticking point when it came to landing the right job. You might come up with the following solutions.

  1. Research what skills prospective employers in a particular market require.
  2. Read a book on how to obtain these skills.
  3. Access free information and pointers on the internet relying on reputable sources.
  4. Take a course.
  5. Join a professional organisation which offers industry accreditation.

Rank how far up the segment scale each option will take you. If one alternative improves you from 2 to 3, but another promotes you from 2 to 4, you have pinpointed what to prioritise. Time and money are scarce commodities, so use them wisely.

Ditch Perfection, Pitch For Progress

Be careful not to be despondent if you do not attain a very high score in every area, even after making significant alterations. The key is to make progress incrementally. As all of us are a work in progress and learning is a lifelong endeavour, aiming for a string of 10s is simply unrealistic. 

If you look at Olympic diving and gymnastics competitions, gold medals are handed out to universal acclaim for scores of less than a perfect 10. Bearing this parallel in mind, do not be too harsh on yourself. A rank of 8 may well be good enough for your purposes. 

What is top-notch, however, is that your own personal career wheel is an ideal tool to highlight talents and opportunities. Use it to roll on to the success you deserve.

Career Wheel, scaled 1 - 10
The Career Wheel
Categories
Career Change Careers Interviews And CV's

CV Clinic: 10 Tips for Choosing the Right Words

Your Guide To CV Writing

CVs can come in waves, clogging up in-boxes. Busy professionals, with a burgeoning schedule of other things to do, have just enough time to skim through them. You have a window of opportunity, perhaps seconds, to present yourself to full advantage and catch an employer’s eye. Your word selection can either tank your application without a trace or fast forward you to the interview stage.

Follow These 10 Tips To Get Your CV Noticed For All The Best Reasons. 

  • What not to write – do not put “curriculum vitae” at the top of your CV, as it should be obvious what the document is. Instead write your name as the header which is the first thing the reader should alight upon. Avoid irrelevant information such as your marital status and date of birth. There are legal protections against discrimination, so an employer is not required to be privy to certain types of personal data.
  • Me, myself and I – there is no need to keep repeating “I”, as it can be cumbersome. It is, after all your CV and the sense should be clear from the context. Fast forward to your accomplishments by skipping over redundant words.

x I created a new distribution system

Created a new distribution system

  • Say it, spell it – some words sound the same but are spelt differently. As this is not always picked up by computers, be vigilant and proofread your CV carefully. Even minor slip-ups can suggest a lack of attention to detail and damage credibility. 

x Principle lead for there projects

Principal lead for their projects

When your CV is up to scratch, print it out. It is easier to pick up on spelling and grammatical errors in hard copy than on a screen.

  • Cut out superfluous words – as Thomas Jefferson said, “the most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words where one will do.” Avoid verbose phrases and stick to simplicity.

x Undertook the implementation of

Implemented 

x Achieved the completion of

Completed 

  • Generic v specific – ditch sentences that could be applicable to anybody in any situation. These have limited appeal. Instead cite examples which differentiate you from your competitors and which showcase transferable talents relevant to a prospective employer. It is important also not merely to state your general duties but what you impact you had.

x Enthusiastic about knowledge transfer

Established monthly training sessions to give updates on market developments 

x Responsible for personnel development

Mentored junior colleagues to achieve industry accreditations

  • Jargon busting – unless writing for someone who understands sector-specific language, beware of abbreviations and acronyms. They are confusing and few have the patience to work out what a jumble of letters might signify. Your task is to provide a smooth read, not a guessing game.

x Member of ACEVO

Member of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations 

  • Active verbs – highlight what you actually did by using engaging verbs which suggest a dynamic rather than a passive or marginal contribution. 

x Attended a product launch

Demonstrated a product at its launch and handled all customer queries 

x Helped with the marketing strategy

Created a digital marketing platform

  • Add it up – some buzzwords are so over-used as to be meaningless and can become wearisome to read. But figures turn your expertise into concrete, memorable facts rather than vague, forgettable assertions. Quantify your success.

x Passionate about achieving cost savings

Achieved cost savings of 25%

x Gained experience in people management

10 years managing a team of 12 employees

  • Easy reading – avoid the temptation to cram more into your CV (the standard format is two A4 pages) by reducing the size and type of font. If a recruiter is left squinting, it’s game over. Opt for Arial or Times New Roman in font size 12. 

Your CV also benefits from white space, headings and bullet point lists in order to be user-friendly. The solution is in changing your words, not your layout. Consider different phrase formulations until you hit the most succinct one. A thesaurus is a helpful tool in this regard as it can suggest a range of suitable words.    

  • Made to measure – whilst you may have an all-purpose CV, attract more interest by tailoring it for each employer. What exactly does the job ad specify and how can you respond convincingly with words that resonate in this particular situation? Bespoke clothes feel special. So do bespoke CVs.

A smart move is to read your CV aloud, either to yourself or to a trusted person who can give practical feedback. Is your text punchy? Are you precise enough about your results? How do you come across? Edit and edit again. With the appropriate word choice, you can do justice to yourself and your talents – and be several steps closer to the job that you want.

With thanks to Rob Ashton of Emphasis Training, a consultancy specialising in business writing and communication –  www.writing-skills.com

Looking for more CV writing tips… How To Approach CV writing After A Career Break.

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’