For the latter, it's stressful enough having to interview people for jobs face-to-face. Now shrink your physical interviewing space to an 8" by 12" screen and you're at a real disadvantage.
As a business owner, if you want to have an edge in a virtual job interview to attract top talent, it may mean having to sharpen a neglected skill that will carry over post-pandemic: your body language.
According to The New York Times, pioneering anthropologist Ray Birdwhistell found that face-to-face conversation is less than 35 percent verbal, while more than 65 percent of communication is done nonverbally.
Becoming more aware of your own body language can certainly help leaders communicate more effectively. Furthermore, recognizing certain nonverbal signals in a job candidate will raise a leader's ability to spot the contradictions between someone's words and their body language.
How to improve your body language
A recent post by FlexJobs, the leader in the flexible job movement, proposes several tips for job candidates to master their body language during virtual job interviews. The same strategies are perfectly suited for hiring managers challenged by their own nonverbal presentation over a screen.
1. Look at the camera, not at yourself.
Quite self-explanatory but often overlooked, when it's your turn to speak, make a habit of maintaining good eye contact by looking directly into the camera, rather than into your computer screen or at yourself, which job candidates may perceive as a disconnect.
2. Have good posture.
Avoid slouching or sinking into your chair, which can come across as too casual and that you're not interested in the interviewee. A good posture signifies that you're alert, interested, and engaged in the conversation.
3. Lean in a bit.
It's natural to show interest during a face-to-face interview by leaning into your interviewee, as he or she would for a hiring manager. For a video interview, the key to leaning in is the distance to the camera. Too close and your job candidate will be turned off by your nose hairs. Rule of thumb: Be an arm's length from your screen and lean forward just a few inches to express your interest when the interviewee is speaking. This is especially important if you feel you've got a potential hire on your hands.
4. Minimize the gesturing.
Gesturing to express yourself and get your point across isn't a problem -- unless you do it to the extent that it becomes distracting during a video interview. If you think you might get too animated and move your hands too much, the advice given is to "practice pre-interview to make sure your motions are kept to a minimum."
5. No folding of arms.
Folding your arms (or legs, if the screen distance is far enough) might come across to the job candidate as that you're closed off or possibly "Mr. Grumpy." To avoid any negative perceptions on the other side of the screen, "keep your arms comfortably at your sides and your feet planted on the floor to make yourself look more open and engaged."
6. Nod when necessary.
When you have nodding down to an art form, it can help your interviewee feel more connected and relaxed when he is speaking; it also shows that you're listening intently, which keeps both parties engaged. But avoid bobblehead nodding in a video interview. Pick the right spots to look genuine. Otherwise, too much nodding with a glazed look will come across as if you're distracted by thoughts of not wanting to be there.
7. Smile genuinely.
Body language experts say that people can judge you in just a 10th of a second. And in two or more seconds, people's judgments of you tend to become more negative. To communicate right off the bat that you're safe and approachable in the virtual presence of an interviewee, start working on your smile.
Take Sara Blakely -- the self-made billionaire and founder of Spanx -- as a model example. Blakely's big flash of straight, white teeth in her videos and photos is disarming to us and we practically smile back at her because she makes us feel socially connected.
According to FlexJobs, smiling while speaking also "makes you sound friendlier and can give a more upbeat tone to your voice." And if the job candidate says something funny, it's OK to smile and laugh.
The first step in employing these tips is the hardest: being aware of your body language downfalls during a video interview. Once you figure out what they are, try some of these practices, hone your skills, and let your virtual interviewing mojo shine.