November 11, 2020 – As remote work becomes more prominent in everyone’s life, it is vital that executives pay extra attention to their virtual business interactions. Without personal contact, culture becomes harder to convey. Technical difficulties become obstacles to communication. And personal chemistry is more challenging to establish. These days, it seems more critical than ever that encounters are well planned, well-managed and efficient.
In a recent report, Edouard Thoumyre, CEO of ACCUR Recruiting Services, offered a number of tips for conducting better online meetings and interviews. Here, he focuses on paying attention to technical fixes such as sound, lighting, background, and optimizing settings, as well as building better meetings and better online interviews.
Shortly after the pandemic hit, the “Zoom” shirt gained new currency as people took to sprucing themselves up from pajamas and into a nicer button-down. For savvy executives, think beyond the shirt and you’ll be well on your way to improving your basic online meeting setup:
- Sound may be the most overlooked component of successful online communication, said ACCUR. Most mics on board computers are omnidirectional and will pick up a lot of background noise. Any sort of mic that is closer to your mouth (such as a headset or earpods) will be a vast improvement, but if you really want an impressive setup, consider acquiring a USB mic that will run you between $50 to $200 (a perennially popular option is the Blue Yeti).
- Lighting is another area that will greatly enhance the image you project on camera. Even lights you have already can be employed to improve illumination if they are placed close to you (even better if you can arrange a light source to bounce softer light toward you from a light surface like a wall). Adjustable “ring” lights favored by influencers can be found on Amazon for less than $100 and will greatly enhance the professional image you project during a business meeting.
- Consider your background: Ideally find a quiet space where you can remove distracting personal items, and even “stage” a professional-looking desk (even if you are working from home).
- Optimize settings: Zoom has settings that will enhance your facial features and bring up low lighting, as well as some key audio settings to make sure your communications are as clear as possible.
Building Better Meetings
Even before the pandemic, meetings could be a painful part of corporate life. They can be long, unfocused and consume a lion share of your working day.
Edouard Thoumyre is founder and managing partner of ACCUR Recruiting Services and has become a key player of the recruitment and executive search industry for consumer and luxury goods brands in the U.S., in export and in travel retail. With previous experiences in management consulting (Oliver Wyman, Ernst & Young) and entrepreneurship (co-founder of Assisteo, an education and healthcare B-to-C service provider), Mr. Thoumyre offers a well-rounded understanding of recruitment needs focused on sales, marketing, finance or operations.
The solution? Urge your team to schedule fewer meetings and keep them to a tighter timetable. Some important tools in that effort:
- Attempt to build a workday that is somewhat asynchronous, so that workers can design their day in a way that best suits their individual tasks.
- Encourage all in your team to have an agenda arranged in advance of the meeting.
- Assign responsibilities to all involved in the meeting. Avoid meetings where some attendees are passive.
- Use shared documents to come to agreed-upon outcomes in the meeting.
Building Better Online Interviews
- For the interviewer: Begin your interview with a strategy that revolves around allowing your candidate to talk and disclose as much information as possible.
- For the interviewee: Make sure you’ve spent the time to present yourself virtually in the best possible frame, including the considerations above for sound, background, lighting and settings. Also prepare talking points that you can bring out to point to specific accomplishments and project work. Finally, have intelligent questions that show you’ve done your research about the target company and are prepared to align your qualifications to business goals.
ACCUR Recruiting Services is a boutique executive search firm specialized in consumer industries (beauty, wine and spirits, watch and jewelry, food and beverage, tobacco, cannabis, hospitality). It was established in 2006 and now has offices in New York City, New Jersey and Miami, with additional consultants in Los Angeles, Buenos Aires and Bogotá. ACCUR focuses on recruiting for middle- to senior-level positions, mostly for sales and business development, marketing, export, retail, finance and operations.
ACCUR’s search process is the combined effort of a full direct approach strategy geared towards passive candidates working in target companies, and soliciting the large network of consumer industry professionals the firm has built over the years.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media