Dos and don’ts for Zoom and video calls

Make sure you follow these simple 'dos and don'ts' for Zoom and video call success, whether you've got an interview, virtual internship or video meeting.

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By now, you’ve probably become well acquainted with video calls, whether you’re using FaceTime, Zoom, Skype or any other service. They’ve formed the backbone of many communications during lockdowns – and will likely continue to be used in recruitment processes and in the workplace even once social distancing requirements have ended.

While you may feel comfortable with these services, there are a couple of things to remember when ‘Zoom-ing’ for work purposes. If you’ve got a video interview or meeting coming up, there are a few simple dos and don’ts so you make the best impression on your potential or existing colleagues.

DO… make your background presentable

The sight of celebrities’ and news correspondents’ bookcases and front rooms has now become a familiar one, with many clearly having gone to great lengths to pick out the perfect selection of books and décor.

However, for video interviews and assessment centres, we’d advise that you err on the side of caution. A plain wall or backdrop will usually be the best choice, but nobody’s going to mark you down if your background’s a tidy room.

If you can’t find a suitable place, you may be able to make use of ‘background blurring’ or ‘background image’ features that come built in with some video call software. Just make sure to select a neutral background and be wary that it doesn’t blur you out if you need to move about on the call at all. Also, check to see what background you have on before you start the call. You don’t want the holiday snap you put up as a joke during your last pub quiz to be broadcast to potential employers.

DON’T… be late

When you don’t need to leave your home for an interview, it can be easy to let punctuality slip a little. Employers and recruiters, however, will still be unimpressed if you log into a call two or three minutes late. After all, it’s not like you can blame the traffic.

Don’t be tempted to leave interview preparation and set-up to the last minute – leave enough time to navigate meeting invites, dodgy internet connections, unplugged microphones or any other technical hiccups. However, keep in mind that recruiters will be in the same boat and will most likely forgive any unavoidable technical glitches. In the case of anything disastrous, recruiters may be willing to have conversations over phone or to rearrange meeting.

DO… use the mute function

While you can probably get away with leaving your sound on in one-to-one calls, it’s good etiquette to have your microphone muted whenever you’re not speaking in group calls, whether it’s a meeting or as part of a virtual assessment centre. You don’t want to risk broadcasting audio of you loudly drinking water to everybody on the call.

DON’T… forget to turn mute off when speaking

Just remember to turn mute off when you do actually want to speak. Being muted can make it more difficult to speak up in group call situations, but making yourself heard could be the difference between recruitment success and disappointment. If you have something to contribute be sure to hit that unmute button.

DO… use the right devices

It’s up to you to choose whether you should take a video call on your phone, tablet or laptop. We’d usually advise using a laptop on a desk or table for a video interview if you have one. Keep in mind that your other devices may have better quality cameras and microphones. Don’t be afraid to use headphones and external mics either; it may seem odd attending a meeting wearing chunky headphones, but your colleagues will appreciate the better quality audio and you won’t be distracted by your sister singing in the next room.

DON’T… forget that you’re on camera

If you’ve got your camera switched on, act like you’re going to be on screen at all times. You can never tell for certain which people will show up on other participants’ screens, so resist the urge to check your phone or do some online shopping. Look like you’re actively listening and, although it may feel awkward, try to look into the camera when you speak – rather than at your face on the screen.

DO… make sure you hang up the call

This may seem basic, but once your call has ended make sure you properly ‘hang up’. Don’t just switch windows or lock your device. If you were sharing your screen during the call make sure that this is turned off too, otherwise you may end up inadvertently broadcasting personal information or, for example, a social media feed you'd rather not have employers see. It never hurts to check.

DON’T… panic

Employers have all had to adapt to this new way of conducting business and recruiting, and will understand if speaking into your laptop isn’t the most natural thing for you or if you have to broadcast with your bedroom in the background. Try to give yourself the best chance for success and treat it as you would a face-to-face interview, meeting or assessment centre.

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