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Online interviews : What should I have in my background?

“Did you know that 86% of hiring managers believe a candidate’s background in an online interview can influence their hiring decision?”


In this blog post, we’ll delve into the essential elements you should have in your background during online interviews. As virtual interviews have become increasingly common, the way you present yourself on-screen can significantly impact your chances of success.

The blog post aims to guide you through creating an impressive online interview background, covering the basics, revealing lesser-known facts, exploring real-world examples, overcoming challenges, and providing tips to get started.

Understanding the Basics of Online Interviews

Online interviews refer to the process of conducting interviews remotely, usually through video conferencing platforms, to evaluate candidates for job positions or other opportunities. This method has gained significant traction in recent years, transforming the way hiring processes are conducted worldwide.  According to a study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 84% of organisations use video interviews as part of their hiring process. This statistic highlights the increasing reliance on online interviews as a crucial tool in talent acquisition.

Online interviews emerged with the rise of internet connectivity and advanced video technology, streamlining the hiring process and enabling global interactions. Initially, phone interviews were common, but with the advent of high-speed internet and video conferencing tools, companies began utilising video interviews to conduct face-to-face interactions with candidates, regardless of their geographical location.

With the increasing prevalence of remote work and virtual interactions, mastering the art of presenting a professional background is crucial for leaving a lasting impression on potential employers or interviewers. Your background serves as a window into your personality and professionalism, influencing the interviewer’s perception of you as a candidate.  A study conducted by TopInterview found that 70% of hiring managers consider the candidate’s video background in their evaluation. A well-curated background can contribute to a positive impression, while a distracting or unprofessional setting may hinder your chances of landing the job.

In today’s digital age, online interviews are not limited to job applications; they also encompass college admissions, media appearances, and other professional engagements. Educational institutions, media outlets, and various organisations now conduct interviews remotely, embracing the convenience and accessibility offered by virtual interactions.  According to a report by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), nearly 70% of colleges and universities in the United States now use video interviews for admissions purposes. This underscores the broadening scope of online interviews beyond traditional job interviews.

As online interviews become increasingly prevalent in various spheres, understanding the significance of a professional background and presenting yourself effectively in a virtual setting is essential for achieving success and making a lasting impact in your professional endeavours.

The Hidden Gems and Lesser-Known Facts

Surprisingly, the colour of your background can impact how you are perceived. Neutral tones exude professionalism and avoid distractions.

While most people are aware that their appearance, attire, and communication skills matter during an online interview, the importance of the background often goes unnoticed. The colour of your background can subconsciously influence the interviewer’s perception of you and the overall impression you make. Opting for neutral colours like shades of white, beige, or light grey creates a clean and polished look, projecting a sense of professionalism and organisation. These colours are less likely to distract the interviewer from focusing on your presentation and responses.

We recommend incorporating subtle elements that reflect your personality or interests without overpowering the overall setup.

Personalising your background strategically can be a powerful tool to make a positive impression on interviewers. While maintaining a professional atmosphere is crucial, adding subtle personal touches can showcase your individuality and foster a more genuine connection. For instance, placing a small indoor plant, a family photo on a side table, or a piece of decor that represents your hobbies or passions can subtly convey your personality without distracting from the interview itself.

A well-organised bookshelf or a tasteful piece of artwork in your background can serve as excellent conversation starters and make you more memorable.

A visually appealing and well-organised bookshelf can reveal your intellectual curiosity and interests. Showcase a selection of relevant books or industry-related materials to demonstrate your dedication to continuous learning and professional growth. Similarly, displaying a tasteful piece of artwork can spark conversation and provide a glimpse into your creative side. Just ensure that any decor or items you choose to display are not controversial or potentially offensive to avoid any unintended negative impressions.

Overcoming Challenges and Misconceptions

Creating an impressive online interview background involves addressing common challenges and misconceptions that can hinder your ability to stand out and make a positive impression. Let’s delve into these challenges and explore practical solutions to ensure you present the best possible background during your virtual interviews.

A plain white wall is sufficient

While a plain white wall may seem neutral, it might not leave a lasting impression on interviewers. A thoughtfully curated background can make you stand out and showcase your attention to detail. Utilising your background as a canvas to display your personality, interests, or accomplishments can help you establish a connection with interviewers and make you more memorable.

Consider adding tasteful decorations, such as a plant, a piece of artwork, or books neatly arranged on a bookshelf. These elements can add depth and character to your background without overwhelming the interviewer’s focus on you.

Virtual Background

Limited space or living in a noisy environment

Not everyone has access to a spacious and quiet room for their online interviews. However, there are creative ways to work around these challenges and still create a professional-looking background.

If you have limited space, consider rearranging your setup to maximise the available area. Position yourself against a wall, using furniture or room dividers to create a clean and clutter-free backdrop. Avoid placing distracting objects or personal items within the camera’s frame.

Dealing with noise interruptions can be trickier. One solution is to invest in noise-cancelling headphones to minimise external sounds during the interview. Alternatively, choose a time for your interview when the ambient noise is typically lower, or communicate with household members to ensure minimal interruptions during your interview.

Virtual backgrounds and noise-cancelling headphones

Technology offers valuable tools to enhance your online interview experience. Virtual backgrounds allow you to replace your physical backdrop with a professional image or a subtle pattern. They are particularly helpful if you cannot create an ideal physical background or if you wish to maintain privacy.

When using virtual backgrounds, ensure they are appropriate for a professional setting. Avoid overly flashy or distracting images, as they might overshadow your presence during the interview.

Noise-cancelling headphones are an excellent investment, especially if you live in a noisy environment. They help filter out background noises, enabling you to focus on the interview and ensuring the interviewer can hear you clearly.

How to Get Started

Start by experimenting with different background setups in mock interviews with friends or family to gain confidence.

When it comes to mastering the art of online interviews, getting involved and actively practising is key to honing your skills and building self-assurance. One of the best ways to do this is by engaging in mock interviews with the help of an online interview coach who can guide you through this minefield of questions and overwhelming amount of information available on the internet.

Setting up mock interviews allows you to simulate a real interview experience in a low-pressure environment. It gives you the opportunity to test various background setups and see how they appear on-screen. Begin by selecting different locations in your home or any space where you’ll conduct your online interviews. Experiment with different angles, lighting, and decorations to create a professional and visually appealing backdrop.

During these mock interviews, ask your online interview coach to assume the role of interviewers and provide constructive feedback on your background choices. This feedback can be invaluable as it helps you identify areas for improvement and fine-tune your setup.

Wrap Up

From understanding the basics of online interviews to overcoming challenges, your background can significantly impact your interview success.  Striking the right balance between professionalism and personalisation in your background is crucial. Aim to create a backdrop that complements your interview, draws attention to your strengths, and leaves a lasting positive impression on the interviewer. Taking the time to craft a thoughtful and engaging background can set you apart from other candidates and demonstrate your attention to detail and professionalism in every virtual interview.

As you embark on your interview journey, remember that your background is an extension of your personality and professionalism. Put in the effort to create a background that reflects your best self.

Embrace the virtual interview platform as an opportunity to showcase your uniqueness and make a lasting impression. With the right background and preparation, you’ll stand out and increase your chances of landing the job of your dreams. Happy interviewing!


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