Many Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers have decided to start a job search. Unfortunately, some of them have not had an interview in years. Because they have been using Zoom frequently on their jobs, most think that interviewing online should be easy.
Unfortunately, this is typically not the case, as 80% of the time, they aren’t offered the job. Gen-Z and Millennials are super tech-savvy, yet they also make typical mistakes that cause them to lose out on good job opportunities. Here are some critical errors you should avoid, ensuring you’re at your best when you meet the hiring manager or recruiter online.
Sending The Wrong Message
Without thinking, you can come across as cold, distant, almost distracted, and worse, uninterested in the job. Most people never consider the message their Zoom presence gives. Non-verbal signals can turn off employers. Non-smiling, robotic-like vocal tunes, stiff posture, and bland answers with eyes frequently turned away from the camera can be a real problem for the employer. This is especially true if your role requires a lot of interaction with other people. Take some time to master your delivery and display your true personality.
Don’t Break Eye Contact
Your eyes are the connection to the interviewer or panel members you are talking to. Online, you break that critical connection when you look up, down, or turn your head away from the camera. As a result, you will not come across as confident, so they may doubt your ability to handle yourself in professional meetings. They will question your competence and whether you can indeed perform the job. Most people aren’t even aware they are looking away. Practice so that you always keep your eyes on the camera.
Giving Poor Answers
It’s critical to review how to handle answering the interviewer’s questions to illustrate you are perfect for the job. So how can you avoid forgetting some important points? This simple trick is most effective. Make Post-it notes with a few keywords to help you recall specific accomplishments or points on answering tough questions. Paste them all around your monitor or laptop screen. For example, you can write on a Post-it: salary range job pays. These keywords should trigger the complete answer. When you’re asked about your salary needs, you respond by saying to the employer, what is the range this job pays?
No Forethought To How Your Background Looks
Employers do not want to see the potential employee sitting in their bedroom with a messy bed showing. Remember, you are being judged on how you will appear online to their customers, team members, and any person you might be interacting with while working for this organization. To solve this problem, clean up the background—no beds, no clothes lying around, no junk everywhere. Quiet rooms at home are often bedrooms, so use plants, a different wall angle, a drape, or something to hide your items. Make it as neutral as you can. Many people have tried using customized virtual Zoom backgrounds. They can place you in an office or numerous other professional scenes. They have a cool factor, but the technology is too unreliable for a job interview: as interviewers listen and watch you on screen, any time you move often causes a distracting flash to readjust the virtual background. Many recruiters and hiring managers have complained they dislike this.
Fidget Or Display Other Nervous Distractions
We all make gestures we aren’t even conscious of, especially when we are nervous. Maybe you twirl your hair, pick at your fingernails, or rub your face. Some people play with their jewelry or make quick hand or arm movements. You are often not even aware of it, but these actions are pretty distracting on screen. Most of these things happen because you are nervous. To curb the nervousness before the interview starts, reiterate to yourself that you are the best person for the job. Then take some slow, deep breaths before you sign in.
Appear Too Casual
Professional attire is a must. People have become too sloppy since working remotely. They have a complete disregard for how they look on Zoom. Employers are already nervous about hiring people they cannot “see.” This is easily fixed. Wear the same outfit you would choose if you were headed to an in-person interview. Avoid prints, plaids, or bold stripes as that clothing is very distracting on screen. No party or sexy attire. Your smiling face is the focus, so ensure you have excellent lighting to be viewed properly. Notice where your windows are and if you are shadowed on one side of your face. Fix that. You may need to add a light ring or lamp off-screen to make yourself well-lit so that your entire face, eyes, and smile are clearly visible on the monitor.
Talking too long or in a monotone voice will cause the interviewer’s mind to wander. Never speak for longer than 60 seconds. Craft potential answers to questions beforehand by writing them out, reviewing them, and making edits. This helps you be more focused and concise in answering questions. The best way to improve is to arrange a practice roleplay online with a friend. Get their feedback, then condense your answers to be more concise but impactful.
This article was originally published on Forbes.com.