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Team VODIUMJun 14, 2023 8:00:00 AM6 min read

The Best Interview Backgrounds for Your Virtual Interview

Seven seconds — that’s how long you have to make an excellent first impression in an interview. With more and more interviews taking place virtually, it's important to make sure your background is reflective of the professionalism you’re hoping to convey during the interview. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at how to establish a professional and distraction-free background that will help you nail your next virtual interview. Whether it’s optimizing your existing set-up, adding an overlay to your videoconferencing software, or creating a branded background, we’ve got you covered! Let’s get right into it. 

Top questions to ask yourself when choosing a background for a job interview

There are a plethora of background options to choose from and it can be daunting to assess which one best suits you. It’s wise to take some time to evaluate what your end goal is so that you can trace your way back and figure out what type of background aligns with it. You might want to start by asking yourself:

  1. Would I prefer a natural background or a virtual background?
  2. What am I aiming to convey to my audience with my background?
  3. What lighting options do I have available in my space?
  4. Can I enhance my background with additional items?

Answering these questions can give you more clarity when it comes to choosing an interview background. 

Do I want to use a natural background or a virtual background?

If you're someone who has a clean and tidy space with good lighting and minimal distractions, a natural background might be the way to go. This can give a more personalized touch to your interview and help show your potential employer a glimpse into your real-life work environment if you’re applying for a remote role.  

However, if you're someone whose space is cluttered or doesn't have the best lighting, a virtual background can be a lifesaver. Plus, it can be a great way to offer your interviewer a hint at your personality! That being said, there are a few things to keep in mind — not all virtual backgrounds are interview-appropriate. 

First and foremost, make sure that your background isn't too distracting. The aim is for the background to enhance your interview, not distract your interviewer from your qualifications and experience. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, therefore sticking with a minimalistic, clean, virtual background will do the trick in most cases. 

What impression does my background give?

What message are you trying to convey via your virtual interview background? How do you want the background to assist in the final hiring decision? The right background can subtly — yet powerfully — communicate your personality during a virtual interview. Done right, this establishes a positive impression from the get-go which can make or break the success of the interview. 

Consider the impression you get of the industry and company you're interviewing for. Are they more traditional or laid-back? If they're more traditional, you might want to opt for a more professional background, like a simple home office or a neutral-colored wall. On the other hand, if they're a bit more relaxed, you could add a pop of color or something more visually interesting to your background.

Another thing to consider is the type of role you're interviewing for. If it's a creative position, you might want to choose a background that showcases your personality or creativity, like a colorful art studio or a unique bookshelf. However, if it's a more corporate role, you might want to stick to a simple, professional-looking background, like a tidy home office or a simple virtual background that doesn't distract from your interview. This shows that you’ve invested a significant amount of time to research the company’s culture and values. 

Do I have the right lighting for a natural background?

Improper lighting can throw off even the best background, making it hard for your interviewer to see and connect with you — possibly even impacting your chances at the role. When it comes to natural backgrounds, lighting can drastically change the outcome of your interview

To optimize your lighting setup, avoid having any light source set up directly behind you. This can result in a silhouette effect, making it difficult to view your expression.  Instead, aim to position yourself facing a window or other light source so that your face is well-lit. Natural lighting is the best, but if you don't have access to it or it's too bright, consider investing in a ring light or a desk lamp to provide additional lighting from the front.

Lighting is not just about being seen clearly but being seen as your best self. Good lighting can even out your skin tone, reduce shadows, and make you look more alert and engaging. 

Are there specific items I can display to give a positive impression?

Visual cues can go a long way during a virtual interview. Your workspace can say a lot about you as a person, and hiring managers may use these visual indicators to gauge your personality (and whether you would be a good fit for the team) before making a hiring decision. This can be a great way to use your interview environment to your advantage to showcase your skills, interests, and personality — without having to say a word!

For instance, you might want to display a few items that reflect your personality and interests. If you're an avid reader, have some books on display behind you. If you're into sports, maybe show off a cool piece of memorabilia. The key is to keep it tasteful, minimal, and professional.

Another thing to keep in mind is the industry you're interviewing for. If it's a creative industry, such as graphic design or advertising, you might want to display some of your creative work or art. If you’ve submitted a portfolio with your application, featuring a key piece can help your interviewer to make the connection between your application and your interview, keeping your work fresh in their mind. If you’re lucky, your interviewer might even use your work as starting point for an interview question about your skills and experience. 

Would it be beneficial to use a branded background for my virtual interview?

There’s no right or wrong answer to this question because whether a branded background is suitable depends on a number of factors such as the company culture and the position you are applying for. 

If you're applying for a job in a company that values creativity and originality, then using a branded virtual background might be a smart move. It shows that you understand and appreciate the company's values and image. On the other hand, if you're interviewing for a more traditional or conservative company, a branded background might not be the best choice.

The most important thing is to strike a balance between showcasing your brand and presenting yourself as a qualified candidate for the job. A branded virtual background can be a great way to show off your company's branding, but it shouldn't be the main focus of the interview. You want to make sure that the interviewer is paying attention to you and your qualifications, not just the logo on your virtual background. So, it's important to choose a background that complements your qualifications and doesn't distract from them.

Ready to interview with confidence? Choose VODIUM

Virtual interviews shouldn’t be treated as any less important than face-to-face interviews. With a little effort, and the right tools to hand, virtual interviews can create the same ambiance as a face-to-face meeting, allowing you to make a connection with your interviewer and give a great first impression. 

Advanced tools, like a virtual teleprompter software solution such as VODIUM, can help candidates face interviews with confidence — and leave fears of forgetting key details behind. To learn more about how you can nail that next virtual interview, or to start your free trial of VODIUM’s teleprompter, check out VODIUM today!