Shall we meet in my bedroom?
Zoom has become the most frequently used option to meet virtually, whether for family, social, or business purposes. As a company, Goodwin Recruiting had been using Zoom for candidate video interviews, client meetings, and internal video conferencing long before COVID, but the pandemic thrust its use more broadly and more deeply into our culture. And not always for the benefit of both parties. There’s a time and place for having a meeting in a bedroom, but is a business meeting that time and place? As a professional recruiter, who conducts job interviews with candidates daily, my vote is, “NO!”.
The five tips to a successful Zoom background
Early in COVID, I wrote a blog, “How to Look Good on Zoom: Tips for All Ages, in the Office and From Home.” Here are the five tip topics covered in that article: Lighting, Camera Angle, Grooming, Attire, and Distractions.
Distractions come in many forms: visual background distractions, unexpected intrusions, things outside of your control (like the neighbor deciding this is a good time to mow the lawn), and things you might do unconsciously.
- Visual Background Distractions: Movement, people, and clutter. Control your environment as much as you can. A plain wall is better than a cluttered kitchen.
- Unexpected Intrusions: Again, control your environment to the extent you can. If possible, close off your space to dogs and kids.
- Outside of Your Control: Mainly, just be aware and don’t get flustered. When the toilet flushed during the Supreme Court oral arguments, the participants kept on trucking. With so many working from home now, the occasional interruption by a child, barking dog, or cat meandering across the desk is no big surprise.
- You: It’s distracting when you appear to be staring off-camera because you’re looking at the monitor instead of the camera. Look at the camera as if it is the person in order to make it feel like you are making eye contact. When in a meeting with many others, we tend to forget that while we might not be the center of attention, everyone can watch us at the conference. Watch your hands anywhere near your head – don’t pick your nose, finger your ear, play with your hair, etc.
The distraction that you can control most easily is visual background distractions.
Preparing for a virtual interview: Visual background distractions
There are two options for backgrounds when using Zoom – your actual background or a photo background. It seems evident that the background matters, but you’d be surprised how often little thought goes into a zoom background choice!
There is a simple solution for solving the background problem. Choose the zoom background you want to use for a virtual interview. As a recruiter, I’m self-conscious of my background. I’ve changed the art on my walls at least four times in the three years that I’ve been in my current home office. The artwork is hung based on how it looks in the background on Zoom, rather than how it looks in the room. Behind me is a credenza where I prominently display three “… of the Year” awards that I’ve received from Goodwin, along with a laser-carved wood penholder that I received when I became a Pinnacle Billers Gold Member. There is also a small collection of crystal and blown glass paperweights and a tent card that features the Goodwin Recruiting Core Focus and Core Values.
The point is that I give careful thought to the background that I use. Not everyone has the luxury of an established home office with a controlled background. If that’s the case, Zoom provides the option of using virtual backgrounds.
There are many reasons to use Zoom virtual backgrounds. A realistic Zoom background can add professionalism to your meetings. They can be entertaining, professional, aesthetic, or cartoonish. They can be as simple or complex as you want.
What types of backgrounds are available on the app?
A few different backgrounds are available on the Zoom app, but they all have one thing in common: they always look great because the images are designed for the purpose.
The app also has some fun features that allow you to customize your background even more. For example, you can choose from different digital stickers and backgrounds. You can also choose to add text over your background. For a wider variety of professional options, you can use third-party sources of background images like PikWizard.
Where can I get a background image to use in Zoom?
If you have an image you would like to use for a background, upload it to the site. Zoom provides clients with this feature for those who want to personalize or brand their meetings or presentations and make them more individual.
Alternatively, if you want to use an image professionally designed as a Zoom background, PikWizard features some of the best backgrounds for a meeting, presentation, or social use. For example, PikWizard has virtual office Zoom backgrounds. Or, for people who want to create a more relaxed or neutral image – PikWizard offers sky and space backgrounds. PikWizard posted a blog that features The Top 25 Best Zoom Backgrounds on PikWizard.
How to use a custom background in Zoom
Many people want to use a custom background but don’t know how to prepare one. The first step is to create the background. You can do this by following the instructions in PikWizard or designing your own.
After you have created your custom background, upload it into Zoom. Using the desktop version with MacOS, which might be the same for Windows, click on the gear icon in the upper right-hand corner under your profile image. In the new window, select Backgrounds & Filters. Under the live video image, there are menu options for Virtual Backgrounds and Video Filters. To the right is a “+” link to Add Imager or Video. The final step is to Choose the background by clicking on it.
You make the best impression by using Zoom backgrounds of your choosing.
In the modern age, it has become increasingly difficult to make a good impression with just words. Visual content has become an essential part of marketing and branding. Knowing how to use the right kind of background can help you grab attention and communicate your message more effectively. Rather than pointing at a blank wall, take a moment to create better background images using Zoom and PikWizard tools so that your interviewer never feels like they are conducting a meeting in your bedroom again.
The Recruiting Company of Choice
At Goodwin Recruiting, we want to be the recruiting company of choice for our partners, clients, and candidates. One of the ways we do that is by providing one-on-one support. We train our partners to do Zoom interviews rather than phone. If in-person is not practical, we coach our candidates on best practices for webcam interviews. And, should a client need coaching on this topic, we are at your disposal. Let us help you cross that finish line — to successfully become a recruiting partner, candidate, or client. Our team is here for you every step along the way.