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Candidates Are Judging Your Video Background: Here’s What They’re Thinking and What You Can Do About It

By | Laura Hilgers | Freelance Journalist and Content Writer

Plants. Animals. Weird art. Family members. These are just a few things that may show up in your videoconferencing background when you’re interviewing a candidate, and they can make as strong an impression as what you’re saying. 

Don’t kid yourself: Candidates are judging your background. While they’re touting their accomplishments, they’re also searching what’s behind you for clues to your personality. They want to see if you’re professional, organized, authentic, and intellectually engaged. 

And job seekers aren’t the only ones doing this. There’s a Twitter account, Room Rater, that’s dedicated to “rating bookcases, backsplashes, and hostage videos since April 2020.” It has 406,000 followers.

Like it or not, virtual interviews are here to stay. According to LinkedIn’s Future of Recruiting report, 81% of talent professionals around the world say that virtual recruiting will continue post-COVID and 70% say it will become the new standard. That means your first encounter with a candidate will most likely be on ZoomMicrosoft TeamsSkype, or Google Hangouts Meet for the foreseeable future. 

Many companies now require employees to use a standardized virtual background, which is often a simple field with a logo. But if you have leeway to create your own environment, what does your Zoom background say about you? Read on to find out. 

Your blank wall may not exude the intended Zen vibe

For the most effective virtual interviews, you need a clean, well-lighted place, free of distractions. Whether you’re in the office or your bedroom, you want your background to be cleared of clutter or anything that might divert a candidate’s attention. Messy shelves or a desk piled high with papers may be a sign that you have less-than-stellar organizational skills. A clean background, by contrast, will focus the candidate’s attention on you.

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