More Letters from the Mailbox

September 1, 2020


Two of the more common inquiries I’m hearing these days are on seemingly unrelated topics, however, both have to do with personal appearance and message conveyance.


The first question:


How Do I Prepare For A Zoom Interview? I have an interview coming up on Zoom.  What arrangements should I be making in my home prior to that interview to assure that I make my best presentation and stand out positively? 


Response:  A zoom interview is not going to be too unlike one experienced in person.  Here a few steps to consider.


1.  Find an office or space in your home that is going to be conducive to the call. 

2.  It should be quiet and free from intrusion from pets and kids.

3.  Look at the background.  Are there things that might be distracting to the interviewer?  If so, move or reposition them temporarily.  I’m talking about loud colors or eye catching wall hangings, controversial book titles, political material or literature.

4.  How are you positioned?  Most people would agree that your eye level should be positioned about 2/3 of the way up on the computer screen for the viewer.

5.  What is the lighting?  Is it too dark, too light?  Are there annoying shadows or is the sun over reflecting? 

6.  Zoom will allow you to check your voice modulation before the call is live.  Make sure that your microphone is working.

7.  Dress just as you would for the actual interview.  A jacket and tie for men and professional dress or suit for women is appropriate, unless the interviewer gives an alternative suggestion beforehand such as business casual attire.  In either case, make sure your colors are not distracting and convey the message you desire.  Also, even though you are just going to do a profile shot on Zoom, wear pants in the event that you need to adjust positions revealing a lower torso exposure.  We may chuckle, however, there has been an occasion or two where overly confident professional broadcasters have been caught with their proverbial “pants down.”  Facial powder can also be helpful to minimize the possibility of a “shiny” face.

8.  Practice the interview beforehand with either a coach or someone who will constructively critique you and offer positive suggestions.  It will also give you an opportunity to do an equipment check.

9.  The neat thing about Zoom, compared to being in person is that you can slip notes, pointers, and superlatives immediately next to your laptop or camera and refer to them during the interview.  They can almost act as a teleprompter for you, however, make sure that you don’t come across as “reading.”


Question #2:


Late Career – Convincing Employer I Still “Have It?” I am late in my career and would like to find a “capstone” opportunity for the next five to seven years before I retire.  How can I effectively job search for work vs. other younger candidates and also convince an employer of the value of my experience and the creativity and innovative thought process that I can bring to the table?  Warren Buffett.  Tom Brady.  Meryl Streep.  These are all individuals who remain at the top of their game in spite of a time clock that would seem to argue otherwise.  A lesser known example might well be Dr. W. Edwards Deming who at the age of 80 was finally discovered in America and eventually became regarded by many as the father of Total Quality Management (TQM). 


The point is that age can often be a function of attitude.  I know of people who are young at 70 and others who are old at 30.  I was in fact recently watching a piece on local news a few nights ago about an 81 year old man, still playing baseball, who possesses a fastball with the speed to match his years!  For those who don’t follow baseball, that is some decent heat at any age! 


For mature job seekers consider these questions.  What is your enthusiasm and energy quotient?  How do you portray yourself outwardly?  Remember always your experience cannot be denied.  What have you done lately that demonstrates ingenuity, creativity, and innovation?  What wisdom and institutional knowledge might you be able to impart on others?  Who have you mentored and developed in the past?


The Seed Sower