Set up Your Home Office for Interview Success

Over the last few years, the world has seen some major shifts in the way we all work. Many companies throughout the globe have embraced these changes as being positive and progressive steps toward a more balanced and productive work environment. Offering an opportunity for employees to do more in the day, balancing work and personal life commitments and for the businesses, expanding their talent pool outside of the cities to national levels. 

However, for some working from home may seem like a dream but for others the temptation of playing daytime TV in the background or distracting themselves away from their tasks is just a sofa away. One way to boost your productivity at home is having a planned and dedicated space for you to get into the flow. This article will help you turn your home office area into a zen-like oasis for improved productivity and make the right impression when having an online interview.  

So, let’s get started, there are 5 key areas for you to consider when setting up your office space these are: 

  1. The Desk
  2. The Chair
  3. The Camera
  4. The Lighting 
  5. The Productivity Tools

The Desk

Having a desk that works ascetically  for your environment as well as being great for your back will allow you to become less fatigued during the day and more in the zone when you are immersed in your tasks. Adjustable standing desks are a great investment if you’re working from home frequently, the SHW 55-Inch Large Electric Height Adjustable L-Shaped Standing Desk offers 4 preset heights which can be programmed for different uses or people in the household. At Interview Coaching, we have found that interviewees using Standing Desks when having their interviews feel more alert, relaxed and have freedom of movement when answering questions. These desks also allow the user to change their body positions throughout the day, allowing for good blood flow throughout the body and reducing the risk of developing lower back pain over long periods of use. 

The Chair

Your chair is where you spend the majority of your time and balancing the benefits from comfortability, style and price can be tricky as there are so many different options available on the market. We recommend looking for a chair which is made from a breathable material, this will allow you to sit for longer periods of time without feeling hot or sticky. Secondly, make sure that they have plenty of adjustable options for you to set it perfectly to your body especially in the lower back Lumbar region. 

Lastly is style, we want to give the right impression to our interviewers/clients when on our business calls, and even though gaming chairs are fantastic for comfortability they are a statement of lifestyle and can work for or against you. For example, imagine you are applying for a Senior Business Strategist position at one of the top consultancies, what is the chair saying about you and what impression will you give to their clients if successful in the role? 

Your first impression is usually made on a subconscious level, they don’t know why but they just felt you were a great fit. Thinking consciously about what you are subconsciously communicating with when on a video call will help you build better rapport with the interviewer or client, feel like you are already part of their team and increase your chances of success. Therefore we recommend The ErgoRo Ergonomic Chair as a great option at around $320. It is stylish, simple and offers all the adjustability and support features needed to sit well.

The Camera

Nowadays, video calling is the norm and we’ve seen some amazing videos on Zoom and YouTube and some less so, looking up someone’s nostrils for a whole hour being too polite to say anything, the tip of their forehead maybe or even a blacked out silhouette with a window behind. (See Lighting for more on this) We have some great tips on getting a better image with your own inbuilt camera as well as a couple of options for upgrading your devices to expert levels. 

Firstly, be aware that when you are on a video call you should be conscious of the composition of your frame, what are they looking at, what is in your background etc.? We’ve found that moving objects such as a ceiling fan or television which are visible in the background can dramatically reduce your internet connection by sending too much data in the video resulting in a poor call quality, pixelated images or even dropping your call temporarily. Be sure to remove these from your background, shifting them aside out of the frame. 

Additionally, the height of the camera needs to be around eye level, this will give you a more favorable appearance, seeing that most of us are using laptops nowadays, getting a Adjustable Laptop Stand to raise your screen is an easy fix.

However, if you’re looking for that next-level professional look which will certainly impress your colleagues, clients or interviewer we recommend investing in a DSLR Camera for your webcam such as a Canon, the webcam driver is free to download from the Canon website and is a simple set up process. 

Maybe you already have one of these cameras tucked away in a cupboard which you bought for that photography hobby you never really did? At Interview Coaching we use a Canon Rebel as our webcam choice. I admit it is not a cheap option (around $500), but the results are incredible and really give a great impression unmatched by inbuilt options. Using a DSLR allows you to get that professional looking depth of field (blurry background) and crystal clear image, so if you’re looking for the best, we strongly recommend this option.

The Lighting

Now your office is kitted with the fundamentals, it can all be ruined with bad lighting. The sun is the brightest light source there is, so don’t fight it, instead find ways to use it to your advantage. By having a natural light source in front of you will brighten your face and the objects behind you, as mentioned before, having it behind you will have the appearance of a blacked-out anonymous witness testimony Finding a place to place your desk or workstation in front of a window is a great start. 

The sun however, is at times too strong so placing a neutral colored blind on your window will help diffuse the light and soften the tones on your skin, Julie Schiro an Assistant Professor of Marketing at University College Dublin, has an excellent video on lighting as well as others on cameras and microphones on her YouTube channel. 

Finally, as many of us are working into the evenings, therefore the sun is at times not always there to lighten the room, instead we need to turn to artificial lights. We use two Wireless Charging Desk Lamps with adjustable brightness and tone settings to get the balance just right, plus they charge your phone at the same time, bonus! Finally, having a warm floor lamp placed behind adds depth and warmth to the image. Be sure to illuminate both sides of your face and have the lamps with either side and behind your camera to avoid glare and not shining directly onto your face.

The Productivity Tools

Finally, I go through paper like there’s no tomorrow and having a pen and paper handy can massively increase the speed of note taking and mapping out ideas, perfect when planning your interview answers. I spend hours, rewriting my notes in word for later recall or having pages upon pages of disorganized papers hiding in and around my desk. reMarkable is a digital note pad which has the touch and feel of real paper but as a digital tablet converting notes effortlessly to word or saved as PDF files on your computer. This is a game changer! Now, it is not a cheap option and granted, remarkable is a higher end product, but for the practicality, versatility and time saved is well worth the investment.

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