Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been all systems go, progressing with searches and migrating from “in-person” candidate meetings to virtual ones, via videoconference. While making allowances for people adapting to new routines and environments, we suppose it’s reassuring that, even in quarantine, some things never change, and candidates continue to do the darndest things … virtually.
Hiding a messy background with a ... messy background?
There is a myriad of excellent and creative virtual videoconference backgrounds out there, in a range of styles and professional qualities. With that in mind, your background choice should be an *improvement* on the unfinished, cluttered basement where you are conducting your VC, not a *downgrade* to an actual junkyard, like this one, similar to the background for one candidate we interviewed:
The mobile office
With the potential for multiple family members on conference calls, and children distance-learning or otherwise noisily engaged, the good old “mobile office” of the car can provide a quiet and cloistered environment for videoconferencing in peace. Just remember to test out the lighting beforehand, as one candidate found out the hard way, constantly opening and closing his door to keep the overhead lamp on during a nighttime VC.
Don’t take that “mobile office” term literally though, like another candidate did, driving around for the entire VC somehow splitting his vision between the screen and the road … and where could he possibly have been going nowadays anyway?
A shadowy fellow
Further on the topic of lighting, it’s not just of question of having enough, it’s also about positioning. While you don’t need Academy Award-level special effects, try to avoid looking like you’re in the witness protection program:
Lots of people are taking advantage of their residential confinement by taking on some overdue home improvement projects. Pro tip: don’t schedule the contractor to come hammer in new floorboards next to your designated VC room, during the same time that you’ve scheduled your VC.
Taking social distancing seriously
In our experience, the overwhelming majority of candidates we’ve engaged with are taking their COVID-19 responsibilities seriously, and adhering to public health advisements and practices. Commitment to social distancing, however, doesn’t mean you also need to sit more than six feet away from your video camera:
Though I’m more of a dog person, I’m well aware that there are countless cat people out there and that, as often as someone might have one, it’s just as likely that they have two, three or more. For those owners of multiple felines, while the cliché of “herding cats” speaks to the difficulty in doing so, we advise keeping them corralled out of the VC space. Or at the very least try to limit their screen time:
Speaking of animal and nature lovers, the good news is that most cities are allowing access to more “green spaces,” parks, and garden areas. But while it might be a tempting to VC from an idyllic outdoor setting, don’t forget to check the weather forecast – or you may end up abruptly canceling mid-session, as one candidate did, when an afternoon downpour suddenly unleashed. Also windy days and sensitive microphones don’t mix … unless you’re trying to sound like you’re VCing from inside a tornado.
Time to retire those day-jamas
And finally, while its understandable that many of us are currently operating in a more “casual dress” mode, no one is forcing you to wear the actual worst T-shirt that you own, or the clothes that we are 99 percent sure that you slept in…