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It’s safe to say that most classes, interviews and business meetings nowadays are done through virtual means, such as Zoom, Skype or Google Meet. For those just entering the professional working world, this maybe isn’t what you expected. Here is a handy list of tips to help you to prepare for these virtual meetings.
Of course, the most important part of virtual meetings is the technology. Test out all of your technological equipment, and make sure you have spares. Test everything out a couple of days beforehand and early the day of, in case you need to replace something unexpectedly. One of the best ways to do this is to have a practice run with a friend or family member.
If you have a laptop make sure that the camera is working properly and the mic can pick up your voice clearly. If the mic isn’t working, you may need to go out and buy a headset with a mic attached, usually headphones or earphones, if you don’t already own some.
Most computers don’t come with a camera attached so you will need to go and buy one. Make sure that this is working correctly as soon as you buy it.
Use a professional email address if you can, and a professional username. A good suggestion for this is any combination of your first and surname and a number (1 and 0 tend to look like letters, so if you can avoid using them do so, as well as symbols such as # or *).
On the day of the interview or meeting, stop any downloads and close tabs or windows that could cause lag in the video.
Even though you are in a virtual meeting, the location and background should still be taken into consideration. Check that you will be in a location that has good lighting (by a window is always good), a low amount of noise and where you will have hardly any distractions. If you feel you need to, take down any unprofessional art pieces that may be on the wall behind you, or temporarily cover them up with a decorative piece. Try and make your background as professional as possible.
Make sure you have a comfortable seat available, as you don’t want to be moving around too much and become distracted. Keep a bottle of water handy as well, if you are going to be talking a lot.
If your interview or meeting is being recorded, don’t show brand names or logos.
Keep interruptions to a minimum. Turn anything off that could make a noise; the tv, radio and your phone. If you live in an area with a lot of traffic, keep any windows shut. Wearing headphones or earphones also helps to reduce any outside noise, while also making you sound clearer overall.
Try not to have any visitors arranged. Let everyone who comes to your house regularly know that you will be unavailable and to reschedule. If you have children or pets keep them locked out of the room if possible. If it is not, and you cannot find someone to look after any children, politely explain to the interviewer or your co-workers about the situation and that there may be an interruption.
Try and schedule any deliveries before or after the day of the interview, or vice versa if the deliveries are set in stone.
While it is hard to make sure there are no distractions, it is always best to prepare as much as you can. If anything like this does happen, apologize, say you will be back in a few minutes, mute your mic and turn off your camera.
Like any regular interview, you should always have your CV and cover letter on you. Have a physical copy of CV on the desk and within easy reach, and a virtual copy open in a smaller tab as an extra precaution. This way you won’t have to leave the meeting to go and find a physical copy.
Keep a blank page and a pen near you to take any notes you may need. Physical note taking is less distracting than typing on a keyboard, but if you need to, use Notepad; this app can be kept on the same page as the video call.
If you are in an interview situation, research the company beforehand and have notes on the company in front of you, as well as a list of questions you would like to ask. Practice any interview questions beforehand.
The same applies for regular meetings. Have notes on what is being discussed, both from the past and what you hope to do in the future if needs be. Having the minutes of the last meeting would also be helpful but not always necessary.
Dress and act professionally.
While you may not be in the room with them physically, you should always aim to dress professionally. Wearing a professional shirt won’t always be enough, and, despite what people have been joking about, jeans or trousers as well, in case you do need to stand up to walk away from the computer. Try and avoid bright colours and patterns in shirts, blouses and ties. Not only is it important to look the part, wearing professional attire will also help you to get into a professional headspace also.
While you are in your own home during an interview, always remain professional. Maintain good posture, keep eye contact, smile and nod. Keep any answers and questions concise and clear. If there is some lag in the video and you interrupt someone, politely excuse yourself.
If anything does go wrong, there are a couple of things you can do.
- If your technology cuts out suddenly, you can email them immediately and ask to reschedule, by phone or another virtual meeting at a later date.
- If you had to leave for a few minutes and it turns out to be an emergency situation, return to the interviewer and explain that you need to leave early. Email and reschedule later, and explain the situation again.
- If there is sudden noise in the background, and you have the option, mute your mic when you aren’t speaking so as not to interrupt anyone, and when you are speaking, excuse and explain the noise.
So, while virtual meetings were not the norm, and may not be the norm in the future, for now it is always good to prepare for them. We hope these tips help you for any virtual meeting or interview you have in the future.
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