How to Set Up a Virtual Interview Background

6 Ways to Set Up a Professional Background for a Virtual Interview

You have a virtual interview coming up, so let’s help you land that new opportunity! A professional background for the virtual interview is key. Whether you have a dedicated home office space or not, with a few tips, you can shine as the outstanding candidate you are.

Start With a Neutral Background

An area that has a white or gray wall is ideal, but any “blank slate” will do. You want your smiling face and ideas to be the focus of the interview, not what the room you are working from looks like. The great part about a virtual interview is that you can do it anywhere. Almost any part of your home with enough space to place a computer and a chair will work. This could be a home office, living room, dining room, kitchen, or bedroom. Do you have a perfectly decorated home office? Great! Do you have a corner of your basement that has a neutral background, and you can direct your computer camera away from the boxes of holiday decorations? Also, great!

Add Lighting

Make sure your face is well lit. This is one of the key differences between a virtual interview and a live interview. In a face-to-face interview, everyone looks equally well (or badly) lit. In a virtual interview, you need light shining toward your face. Test out the lighting you already have in your chosen area. Practice in advance with a friend. Set up a time to video call each other and adjust the lighting to see what comes across best. If possible, practice at the same time of day as you expect to have your interview, so any light coming in from windows will be similar. If your face looks dim on the screen, perhaps a ring light you can attach directly to your computer or a well-positioned makeup mirror can add the effect you want. Depending upon the time of day, you may need to close blinds or drapes.

Remove Visual Clutter

While practicing with your friend, note how far the camera can see into your virtual interview space. Make sure that everything a couple of feet beyond what the two of you can see looks clean and professional. Think storage baskets. Remember, items that are just lying about are clutter. Items in neat baskets are décor (while still being accessible).

Focus on Professional-Looking Décor

Do you have framed diplomas or awards you can place in the background? What about serious-looking books? Just make sure that any titles that could show on the video are either job-related or both serious and non-controversial. You are inviting the interviewer(s) into your home office space, not your entire home. A well-positioned bookcase or floating shelf can be nice. Perhaps a little greenery, some simple wall décor, or a throw pillow on that chair would add the finishing touches.

Remove family photos for the interview. After you have the job and your new boss has learned what a great employee you are, you can chat about how proud you are of your kids or how much you enjoy taking care of your grandchild two afternoons a week.

Dress for Success

Clothing can be a little different for a virtual interview, but it is just as important. What you wear will depend upon the role you are interviewing for and the culture of the organization. With that said, stick to some tried-and-true rules. Women’s dress shirts and work dresses in solid colors are a good option. Although the pants or skirt you are wearing won’t show on the screen, it may make you feel more professional to fully dress as you would for an interview. Women’s cardigans can be great for virtual interviews. We also suggest wearing a blazer because they don’t look as formal.

Whatever clothing you wear, make sure it fits properly and will be comfortable for the interview. Whether you are petite, plus, or tall, put your best foot forward with clothing that fits your body in a color and cut that is flattering to you as an individual.

Post-Interview Notes

After the interview, jot down notes about what went well and what you could do better next time. Could you have used more positive examples? Were there any questions you didn’t anticipate? Capture them for next time. This is an important step in the process. Every job interview is an accomplishment whether you end up with a great job offer, get more practice interviewing, or learn about options that are out there (that you may or may not want—you are interviewing them, too!)

Finally, don’t forget to reward yourself for completing your virtual interview. Invite a friend out for coffee, read a favorite book, or take a bubble bath. Yay you for completing a virtual interview!

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