Here’s how to make sure your soft skills shine through on your next big Zoom interview.
BY HARVEY DEUTSCHENDORF
Here’s an important thing to remember when you’re on the job hunt: Getting offered an interview means you likely already have the necessary qualifications for the job. The interview is meant to determine if you will fit in with the organization. And that’s where soft skills can help you stand out.
While technical skills are important when it comes to finding a job, it’s now widely accepted that soft skills, such as emotional intelligence are equally (if not more) important. A recent survey of 2600 hiring managers and HR professionals found that 71% valued emotional intelligence over IQ. And when it comes to promotion of employees, the same preference of EQ above IQ also holds true.
But how do you communicate those skills in a brief interview—especially now that so many are taking place virtually? Forming an emotional connection with the interviewer(s) is more important than ever. While this is more difficult on screen than in-person, there are tools we can use to give ourselves the best opportunity for success. Here are five ways to show emotional intelligence in a video interview:
GET COMFORTABLE WITH APPEARING ON SCREEN
While lots of us are on Zoom calls all the time, not everyone is familiar (or comfortable) with seeing themselves on the camera. Set up some practice meetings with trusted friends to see how you look and react when seeing yourself. It’s important that you are able to relax and be your authentic self in the interview.
Play with the settings and camera angles to find the position that shows your best features. Make sure you are close enough to the screen that your upper body is clearly visible and fills the majority of the screen. Be aware of glare if you wear glasses, and ask others you trust to give you feedback. Looking your best will boost your confidence and help you relax.
PRACTICE SHARING SOME EMOTIONS VIRTUALLY
Virtual interviews makes it more difficult to connect with your interviewers on an emotional level. The challenge in a video interview is to share your authentic self, instead of appearing wooden and stilted. Spend time with a close friend and get feedback on how you come across. Ideally you want to appear warm, open, and welcoming. Smile, if that’s natural for you, but don’t over do it. You don’t want to come across as forced. Talk to your friend about situations that bring out various emotions for you and ask for feedback on how authentic you appear.
FIND OUT WHAT YOU CAN ABOUT YOUR INTERVIEWER—AND REMEMBER THEIR NAME
Doing prep work about the person you’ll be speaking with, and taking note of their name (and how to pronounce it) is important, whether your interview is in person or virtual. The more you know about your interviewer(s), the more opportunity for you to connect. Try looking them up on LinkedIn or Twitter. And when responding to, or asking a question in the interview, use the person’s name. (Do this sparingly, otherwise it may appear contrived and inauthentic.)
PLAN YOUR OUTFIT
If unsure how to dress, err on the side of being overdressed, rather than under. While a t-shirt and sweats may feel comfortable, they won’t show you in a positive light. I personally prefer to wear blue as it is a warm, calm color that some associate with emotional intelligence. Putting consideration into how you present yourself will help you make a good impression, and allow the interviewer to focus on the content of your interview.
USE YOUR BACKGROUND TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
The one advantage that you have with a virtual interview is that you have control over your background. With a little time and creativity, you can use this effectively to send the message about yourself that you want. Anything to show family, community involvement, volunteering, and/or healthy living will help. If the job requires lots of physical activity, show some evidence of an active lifestyle. For a job requiring a lot of cerebral activity, a full bookshelf in the background wouldn’t hurt.
I know someone who discovered before the interview that he shared a love of canoeing with one of his interviewers. He had attached a pair of crossed canoe paddles to the wall behind him. You are only limited by your imagination. Get a trusted friend or family to check out your background to confirm you are giving the impression that you desire.
Harvey Deutschendorf is an emotional intelligence expert, author and speaker. To take the EI Quiz go to theotherkindofsmart.com