Virtual interviews and meetings were becoming more common even before the pandemic but are now a common part of life, especially if you work remotely. Zoom and its sister programs make working and collaborating from a long distance easy.
While most of us have adjusted to the quirks of virtual meeting technology, there are still common mistakes to avoid! Whether you’re prepping for a virtual interview or just getting ready for your next Zoom meeting, do a little self-scouting to make sure you’re avoiding these common blunders.
Your camera is off
It’s important to be visible in online meetings, and oftentimes that means showing yourself on camera. While it may not always be mandatory, it’s generally good etiquette to have your camera on if everyone else does.
Liv McConnell says that the expectation nowadays is to have your camera on in order to create a sense of community and continuity, especially if your team only meets online. This extra step can go a long way toward building a good rapport with your team.
“This makes you invisible, and that’s not a good look if you seek to impact, influence and impress. Plus, people in the meeting think you’re hiding something—or worse, goofing off.” –William Arruda
You aren’t making eye contact
With your camera on, your team can see your face. With that in mind, you’ll want to make sure you’re providing good body language cues like maintaining eye contact.
According to LinkedIn’s Hank Boyer, participants look at faces two-and-a-half times more in virtual meetings compared to in-person meetings. There isn’t much else to look at on the screen, This means you need to be even more aware of how you’re presenting yourself. Make sure your face is properly framed in your webcam and that you’re able to make eye contact.
Indeed also says to make sure not to appear distracted. If you have wandering eyes, it’s a clue that something on the other end might be distracting you. Consider setting up a “do not disturb” setting on your devices and make sure your eyes aren’t darting toward your phone.
Distractions are abundant
Minimizing distractions in general is good etiquette for your meeting. While working remotely offers additional freedom, it’s important to treat your coworkers with respect. Keep any pets or family members out of the room, put your devices on “do not disturb mode,” and focus on the meeting.
Alison DeNisco Rayome says that you never want to be the obnoxious person on the call that forgot to mute their microphone. If your coworkers can hear you typing, making food, or dealing with other problems, you’ll be disrespecting whoever is speaking and creating additional distractions.
Your background is distracting
Going even further, you’ll want to make sure you don’t offer any additional distractions on screen when the camera shifts your way. Finding the right, neutral background is crucial.
If the room you’re working in is messy, it will be very distracting and shift focus away from you. We’re all human and often need to put messes aside to work on other things, but if you know you have a meeting, take the time to make sure the room is clean.
Or, better yet, find a neutral backdrop behind you, whether a virtual option or some sort of backdrop directly behind you, writes Amanda Augustine. Sitting in front of a blank wall, a bookcase, a door, or some sort of curtain creates a neutral backdrop and lets your face and your words be the focus.
While not always appropriate, sometimes a virtual background can hide a messy room or create an air of professionalism. Just make sure it’s an appropriate one. A background where you’re on Mars or in the bleachers of Lambeau Field is probably distracting, even though it would be pretty neat.
Your screen is messy
Even if your room is clean and you have an inoffensive background, you may need to share your screen. You’ll want to make sure your computer is just as clean as your background.
At the bare minimum, Kenneth Terrell says to get rid of any distracting tabs or open programs. Your team doesn’t need to see your fantasy football team, or perhaps something not safe for work. Likewise, keep your desktop clear of any inappropriate files or of having too many cluttered on the screen.
“Play it safe by closing all windows and applications on your laptop and muting any default notifications on all nearby devices so your interview is uninterrupted by random pings or inappropriate ads popping up on open tabs.” – Amanda Augustine
Finally, Forbes’ William Arruda says to make sure that what you’re sharing can actually be read by human eyes. Create any items meant to be shared in a font big enough to be read and don’t overload the reader will too many words.
Even if you use virtual meeting apps daily, it can still be easy to fall for one of these classic blunders. Make time to brush up on your meeting etiquette and clear your screen (and workspace) of any distracting elements. Then, you’ll be ready to attack your next virtual conversation with a renewed sense of clarity.