Posted On 03 Aug 2022
Nikk Carmichael

Yes, first impressions count! ~ Nikk Carmichael

I was asked to give five tips. I could give you five hundred but ain’t nobody got time for dat.  These aren’t necessarily the most important (that I think) but rather the first five that came to mind. Heed them and you’ll have a better chance in your Zoom interview for a virtual office job!

Be Early

Be one minute early. I always thought I learned this from my father but apparently not.. I asked him about it recently and he said he never told me this. Wherever it came from, it’s a rule I’ve set for the team at Oracle Tree. Always be one minute early to an online meeting (of any type), whether it’s an interview or just a catch up. If you’re the one holding the meeting you should start it two minutes early so that people have the opportunity to be one minute early.

Why do we do this? Simple. If you’re too early, people become annoyed. They aren’t prepared for you yet. Try turning up to a party before the start time and see how people like it. If you are right on time, early starters will be there and wonder whether you’re coming and asking themselves where you are, so… don’t be late. There is no “fashionably late” in business. You’ve lost the job two minutes past the interview time if you aren’t there. I’ll wait for 15 but you won’t get the job if you turn up. If you don’t turn up by that time then you can expect a strongly-worded email in return.

Dress the Part

Dress nicely as if you were going to an interview.. because you are! Gosh. I shouldn’t even have to say this but I’ve had some people turn up to interviews that were dressed for cleaning the bathroom, not for a job interview. Yes, times have changed and a suit and tie are perhaps over the top but show some respect to the person on the other end. You do want the job, don’t you?  Also, if you have a piercing and you intend to wear something in it to work, wear it to the interview. I’ve had a few nose rings turn up on the first day of work that weren’t at the interview.  If you’re not game to wear it in the interview, don’t wear it to work or ask whether it’s okay to wear it to work at your induction. Honestly, I don’t have a problem with piercings (both my ears are pierced) but it seems kind of dishonest to me to hide that at the interview and then expect that it’s fine to bring it out of the closet on your first day at work without mention. 

Impressions Matter

Have a tidy background. In a virtual office, wherever you’re sitting on Zoom is your office and therefore is our company’s office too. It shouldn’t have a bed in the background unless it absolutely can’t be avoided and, if there is a bed, make sure it is made! Always! Not just at the interview. Kitchens don’t make for a professional background either. Never have a chair with a pile of washing on it, an open wardrobe, a visible garbage can, a stack of old boxes or tools or a cat having a bath in the background. Zoom has some blurring filters. But I don’t like them.  Sometimes they work well, sometimes they cut your ears off. I prefer that you don’t hide the background with those and instead you find a nice tidy space. Your space says things about you and if it comes across as tidy and uncluttered, then I will think that you are tidy and uncluttered. Something I like to have in an employee.  

Intrigue Me

Know that I’ve already read your resume and have a pretty good idea of what you can do based on it. Beyond that, the interview will be about whether I think a) you were truthful in your resume, b) you will be the right type of culture fit for the company and, c) whether I believe I can impart trust on you to do the work and take on the responsibility of being employed in a remote work environment. I will have most likely made up my mind about that within the first three minutes of your interview. If your interview feels like it ran short, you can probably see that as an indication that you didn’t tick all three of those boxes in those first few minutes. Any time I give you after that is a courtesy really.

Be Yourself!

Be yourself.  Don’t lie about who you are and what you can do. I’ll know, I assure you. If you have conducted as many interviews, for as many positions as I have, you can spot when people are lying pretty easily. But, if I don’t spot it and I find out later, expect there to be consequences to that. It really serves no purpose to try and pull the wool over the eyes of a prospective employer.  You’ll probably be spotted doing it and dismissed as a candidate. If not, you’ll most likely find yourself in a job that is way over your head, which will lead you to trouble and you’ll probably get given the boot pretty quickly.

That will need to go on your resume for the next job you apply for. It’s not fun to explain to the next hiring person why you had to leave a job after a month or so and why you don’t want to pop them down as a reference. You’ll probably end up lying to them about it and leaving a gap in your resume. Then the vicious cycle starts again. The thing about lying is that there’s no way back from it once you start doing it. There always needs to be another lie to cover up the last one. Better off telling the truth in all cases. I find people are usually way more understanding of any truth than of any lie.

To Sum it Up

These things seem like complete no-brainers but each one comes from a multitude of experiences of people coming to interviews and breaking these simple guidelines. Not a single experience… multiple ones! Obviously, those people didn’t get the job and they may have been otherwise qualified for it. If there’s another candidate that abides by the above five rules that has the same qualifications as you, you lose, they win. You might be up for a job with a hundred other applicants. There might be twenty or thirty that are granted first interviews from that pile of resumes. If you want the job, you want to give yourself the best chances of getting it.  So I wouldn’t take the risk that you’ll be sitting across the digital table from someone like me and that they might hold such things against you when they’re deliberating who is going to join their team.

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