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Nail Your next Job Interview before You Even Enter the Room

Nail Your next Job Interview before You Even Enter the Room
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Job interviews generally fall into one of two categories. They are either a complete waste of time or they can be something that leads you to greatness. If you are looking for the latter, then here is the plan that I follow in order to keep #winning at job interviews.

The Week Leading up to the Interview

When it comes to wanting to nail your next job interview, the first thing you should do is outline the company’s ideal interview profile, or as I like to call it their IIP. An IIP is not the same as Ideal Candidate Profile, which is based on your skills and work history. You see, those are the things that got you the call. What I’m talking about are the things that make you look amazing during the interview and beyond.

The IIP is where you research, visualize and bullet point important notes so you can focus on learning and producing exactly what the company wants. Note, the key to doing this is thinking long term; you don’t want to pull a fast one and just be this person for the interview only.

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Contrary to popular belief, picking out what you are going to wear to an interview should not be the first step in your plan. The first step needs to be a research phase because it’s nearly impossible to dress the part without knowing the details of the part you are up for!

During the research phase, you need to act like a super sleuth and find out as much as you can about the following things:

  • The person(s) who will be interviewing you. Specifically find out who they are, what job they do and what they like.
  • The previous person who held the position. Can you dig and find out why they left? Were they a shining star or kicked out?
  • What is the actual position that you are interviewing for? Try to find out if it is a new position or existing so you can see what are you up against.
  • The company, including the culture, mission, charity work and news.

This type of in-depth research takes more than just going to the company website and memorizing a mission statement. Doing that is a given, and these days with the job markets being so tight, it’s not something that you will get interview brownie points for. Also, in the research phase you can set up Google Alerts with the company name to see what kind of juicy info you can get.

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Once the research phase is completed, the next step is to create a visual plan. To do this, try to make a mind map or checklist so you can clearly see what needs to be completed. Also, I highly recommend that you grab a friend and use this list to do a few practice runs.

Think of it as an interview to-do list that helps you remember everything. You need to reserve your energy for the interview so doing this will help keep the stress to a minimum. When possible you need to try and do this at least a week out from the interview as it may take you some time to secure everything you need.

On the checklist, you are going to write down the following things:

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  1. What you need to study before the job interview.
  2. What you need to buy or find before the job interview.
  3. What you will be eating and drinking on the day of the job interview (think fresh breathe people!).
  4. What route you will be taking to the job interview.
  5. What follow-up process you will be using after the job interview.

Now compile your list and get to studying the important stuff. Don’t skimp; this isn’t cliff notes the interview version. You need to be able to uncover the things that may help you answer, or avoid, depending on what the interviewer asks of you.

Once I was invited to interview at a large animal rights organization for a dream job that I really wanted. When I made my checklist, I realized I had inherited a car with leather seats and while most people could care less about what you drive to an interview, this organization may actually care. So I looked their building up on Google Maps Street View in order to see if there was a security gate where someone would notice what I was driving. Then I was able to weigh my options and make any last minute changes to my strategy. If I hadn’t done the research, it could have ended up being pretty embarrassing for me.

The Night before the Interview

On the night before your interview, you are going to need to review your study notes again and be sure there isn’t anything left to prepare from your list. Go down the checklist slowly and again, don’t cut corners. If you followed all of the above instructions, you should have a good list of everything you need for the interview tomorrow. Pull the clothing you be wearing out of your closet and hang them in a spot where they won’t be disturbed. Be sure and grab your shoes, sock and other accessories too.

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It’s now crunch time and with careful planning, you are going to be able to be 100% ready for your interview tomorrow. Remember to eat well, avoiding any foods with strong odors and get a good night’s rest.

The Morning of the Interview

On the morning of the interview, you are going to want to get up early, eat a healthy meal and check your google alerts one last time along with your bullet points. It’s been proven that positive self-talk increases confidence, so remind yourself that you are ready for this job and that you will nail this job interview.

Review your notes once more and practice your quick witted, but highly educated answers. Stay calm and know that you’ve just upped your game, and you are now officially ready for the interview.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via pixabay.com

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Job_Interview Nail Your next Job Interview before You Even Enter the Room

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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