All the tips and tricks for making a good first impression – eye contact, a firm handshake, a warm but friendly tone, relaxed and open body language – are also great ways to get a first impression from someone. If you meet with a potential client or service provider who has shifty eyes and a clammy handshake, you’re not likely to be too taken with them. There’s just so much riding on the vibe you get from someone when meeting in person for the first time.
Nowadays, it’s a little harder to judge others when you’re not meeting them face-to-face. Thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak and the consequent social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines, fewer of us are shaking hands – or even stepping foot in the same room! — than ever before. So how can you size someone up? Let’s take a closer look.
Some of the Factors Are the Same
Take a look at any list of tips for making a good first impression, and you will see that many of them are visual. That means you can still use visual filters and cues even when you are “meeting” someone on Zoom or Skype, or watching them on a webinar.
An individual you’re interviewing in a business setting of any sort should be well-groomed, with professional attire. They should meet your gaze and make eye contact, just as they would in person. It can be difficult not to watch your own image when video-conferencing, but professionals ought to be making the effort by now!
Similarly, the person’s desk or workspace should be clean and neat looking. If you can spot distracting scenes in the background – a jumble of clutter, scattered toys, or dirty laundry piled high on the bed behind them – you might want to think twice about hiring them. It doesn’t take that much effort to set up and maintain a nice-looking space for Skyping.
Cut Them a Little Slack
On the other hand, however, experts say you might not be doing yourself any favors if you are too picky and demanding when interviewing remotely. These are challenging times. Even the most consummate professional won’t be able to fully control a work-from-home environment – as the fellow known as “BBC Dad” can attest. A barking dog, barging-in baby, or ringing doorbell shouldn’t be a dealbreaker on its own.
In addition, some people just aren’t as confident and relaxed as others on camera, even if that camera is broadcasting to just one other person. It can be nervewracking, if you are not used to seeing your own image like this in a video conference. So cut folks some slack if they stumble over their words, fidget a bit, or give off a nervous air.
In the End, Trust Your Gut
Meeting up with any other human being for the purposes of evaluating one another, whether it’s for a job interview, a date, or a working partnership of any kind, boils down to one thing: trusting your gut.
According to the attorneys at Jacobson, Julius & Harshberger in Harrisburg, PA, who meet with clients over Zoom and Skype on the daily, there isn’t that much difference once you get past some minor technological challenges.
Get a weird vibe from someone, even though they look perfect on video? It’s OK to pass them by and keep looking. And if the attorney, doctor, accountant, or copywriter seems a little scattered when she chats with you, but is otherwise competent and accomplished, don’t ignore your intuition when it tells you to give them a try.
Like it or not, meeting up over video or on the telephone is part of our “new normal” — at least for now. But it doesn’t take that much effort to adjust. Learning how to evaluate others when you’re somewhat more removed from their body language and facial expressions can be somewhat difficult, but check out the cues they use and in the end, trust your gut.