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2020 was the year virtual interviews really took off. And while many employees in Hong Kong and across Asia are trickling back to the office, Zoom call interviews are still very common. And almost certainly here to stay.

Yet a surprising number of jobseekers are missing out on job opportunities due to making elementary Zoom call faux pas. But it’s a skill that jobseekers are going to need to master if they are going to create a professional impression.

Or indeed anyone who needs to make a Zoom call on a regular basis – and let’s face it, that’s most of us these days.

Also read: How to make a good impression in a video conference

Just-published findings from BT Skills for Tomorrow have revealed the biggest video interview rookie mistakes – and could be costing jobseekers career prospects dearly.

The survey of more than 500 respondents responsible for making hiring decisions found that one-third had not hired a candidate based on something that caught their eye in the background of the call.

More than half (58%) of prospective recruiters pointed out that an untidy room in the background could cost a candidate the job. While more than two-thirds (67%) of interviewers believe that jobseekers don’t put enough thought into their virtual video backdrop.

The study found that some interviewees have been caught short, literally, with 13% standing up midway through the call to inadvertently reveal that they are dressed in tracksuit pants, pyjamas bottoms or – even worse – their underwear. 

And, incredibly, it was also reported that one in five virtual calls (20%) are have been joined by a household pet. It’s also a good idea to keep children away from your PC settings prior to a Zoom call.

Also read: Lawyer caught out with embarrassing cat filter in Zoom call with judge

According to Hannah Cornick, head of digital impact for consumers at BT, believes there is an opportunity for job candidates to use a professionally conducted Zoom call to their advantage.

“Being in control of your environment and in a familiar space can help reduce nerves and allow you to showcase your personality,” said Cornick.

“While you can’t always plan for unexpected interruptions, there are things you can do when preparing for a video interview to ensure you come across professionally and set yourself up for success. This is the time to show the interviewer your strengths and how you stand out from the crowd, without any distractions from your surroundings,” she explained.

While virtual calls present some different challenges to the traditional face-to-face interview there are still sound principles of deportment to be adhered to.

“The basics are essential. Connection, tidiness and etiquette should be at the back of your mind, along with the killer answers you have prepared for the range of questions you might expect for the position,” Mandy Watson, director at recruitment firm Ambitions Personnel, told HR Grapevine.

“Not everyone is as versed with video calls as we expect, so small elements that make all the difference should be paid attention to. Use natural light, elevate your camera to be at eye level and dress appropriately.

“Make sure any noise sources are switched off or in another room and just judge the situation for yourself. Visible hanging washing or piles of clutter don’t give the impression of an organised candidate,” Watson added.