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Now that the world has been completely turned upside down since March 2020, according to stats at Miro, over 40% of people are working from home, and remote positions are on the rise (article here), which means more and more remote interviews in the future. I even believe when offices open up again, we will still have remote positions and remote interviewing. Just for reference, my last three job interviews I have done in the last three years have been remote.

1. Test Your Technology

Nothing is worse than jumping on an interview right at the start time and your technology is not working or your internet is down. If you have the luxury at home to have one or more devices. Set up a second device in case the first one doesn’t work.

Go ahead and pre-download the software on your computer, if its webX, zoom, teams, etc, get well acquainted with how the software works and any features you may want to use.

2. Dress for the Job

This one is quite straightforward. Depending on what type of job you are applying for, you want to dress for the role and if you were going into the office. I would suggest business casual, the ones that wear a suit to me or a blazer always stand out to me.

If you are going to wear sweatpants or shorts with your outfit thinking that no one will see it, ensure you don’t need to stand up for the entire interview. I have seen people’s children come in or doorbells ringing, and they stand up, and the magic of you wearing business casual is gone!

3. Make sure you are early

This goes hand in hand with testing your technology. If you were interviewing in person, you would most likely arrive at least 10 minutes early. I would suggest joining the call 8 minutes early due to the software’s loading times, and you want to make sure no one is waiting for you.

I am a big stickler for time and hate when people arrive late to any meetings.

4. Make Eye Contact

I have spoke about this in my other youtube video, is how to look good on zoom. You want to ensure you are front and centre of your camera and connecting with the interviewer as much as possible.

Its very hard to connect to someone’s side of the face or head.

Here is the video here: How to Look good on Zoom

5. Remove all Distractions

I can get easily distracted, whether it is a notification on my phone, my cat entering the office or the door bell ringing.

Ensure when you are in your interview that you keep all distractions outside of the room. If you have a smart home speaker, I would suggest muting this device or unplugging it all together. Nothing is worse than answering a question in an interview and losing your train of thought due to a distraction.

6. Have your CV near by or as your virtual background

Typically in an in-person, you would bring at least a few copies of your CV/resume. Ensure you have your CV open on your desktop, and for those super creative, you can even add it as your virtual background.

You can take this approach, you can also share your screen but most likely the hiring manager will have it open on their side as well.

7. Prepare and rehearse key questions

Pick an honest friend and schedule some time to rehearse your interview. Since we live in a remote world, it is effortless to schedule a quick 20 minutes with a friend and go over your questions.
Ask that friend for their honest opinion and get feedback from them on how it sounds.

8. Research the Company

I can’t stress this enough!!! Since we are remote, we can absolutely have notes on the side of our screen regarding the company you are applying for.

Having the hiring managers Linkedin open to understand who they are, and having some notes such as the companies objectives, results, what their mission and vision are, is so important. If you find you don’t align with the vision and mission, it also might not be a place for you to work.

9. Have a digital presence

Now, this requires you to do some pre-work. Having a digital online presence in Canada is so important. What this means is to clean up your social media profiles. In Canada, LinkedIn in business is heavily used. Ensure your latest achievements and education are updated on this tool. However you decide to use Linkedin, make it consistent. If you only post once a month, then do that. If you never post and suddenly you are looking for a job, it may take time to build a credible brand presence.

10. Break the Ice

I have some people execute this really really well. You could start with a joke, talk about coffee/tea, weather, what your day is looking like. What new hobbies you have started, etc. The point here is to pep up your energy, add different tones to your conversation because the interviewer at this point is trying to figure out who you are!

Have you participated in any job interviews remotely? How did they go?

Now it’s 2021, and I want to point out there is an advantage of being on video calls with customers or your employees. The last few weeks, I have been on numerous team calls and customer calls, and it seems that people are either tired of being on video or never got used to it.

I am not all about changing who you are to look better on zoom. There are, however, a few tricks to enhance/make yourself more visible on camera for the viewer. Whether you are prepping for a large webinar, an interview or just day to day meetings, I believe these four tips can help you!

Four things to Keep in Mind on Zoom:

Lighting:

If you know anything about photography, lighting, I believe, is the one thing all photographers say is needed. I know if you plan any family photoshoots or headshot sessions, you are either surrounded by studio lighting, or the photographer needs natural sunlight to get a good shot. This goes the same for web conferencing. The most flattering light will be from in front of you and not from behind or an above spotlight.

Also, if you have three different light sources, this can make your appearance look unflattering. Stick to one source. If you have a bright enough window, turn off the light in your room until needed. I explain more in the video!

Angle

Angle!! This one is huge, especially when you are presenting or speaking at a meeting. If your webcam is currently stationed on your laptop, you should either center your laptop in the middle of your desk or sit in the center of the webcam when participating in online meetings.

The most flattering angle will always be front and centre and the camera higher than your head; as I was not blessed with an amazing pointed chin, I don’t feel comfortable with the double chin angle.

Dress Code

In early 2020, most people landed on wearing Pajamas or sweats to work. There is no problem with this, and who knows what type of bottoms I am wearing when filming this video. The point is, one day, when we do start to travel for work again, you still want to have some consistency with your brand. If you are more of a casual person, I would continue with that dress code. Just match what you would typically feel comfortable wearing to an office.

Background

I was doing an interview recently, and one of the most awkward things for me was to see the candidate’s bed in the background. I know we are facing a pandemic, and most people don’t have the luxury of having a home office. In this case, I would utilize a virtual background to block out any intimate things that could be lurking in the background.

If you think this is not important, every single week, I have at least one person commenting on my background on how clean it is or asking what something is. Covid-19 has brought some intimacy in meetings for better or worse, so if you don’t want someone to see into that part of your life, clean it up.

*BONUS*

Watch the end of this video for a bonus item on how to touch up your appearance on zoom.

I have been working remotely now for over 2.5 years, with one day commuting to the office. I feel like I had a great set up before the pandemic, but I feel like now I have stepped my work from home game up! In a virtual world, these have certainly made my work life a lot better.

Keep in mind I am not sponsored or no company has paid me to recommend these products. Know that I work at Dell Technologies and some of the things I have were purchased directly from the online store.


Standing Desk:

Prior to the pandemic I purchased the Ergotron standing desk which presented a rather nice experience, I absolutely loved the keyboard spot and the quality of the product.

I used this for just over two years and the great thing about it, you can put it on any type of surface. Knowing this you can’t really move it around from the kitchen table or office. Once it’s there, it should only move if you are changing furniture…because it is insanely heavy! Another thing to add is they have significantly dropped in price since I purchased it!

Purchased Here: Ergotron Standing Desk

Now, just in the last two months, I have upgraded my office and now working with a different type of standing desk which, I just purchased the rising legs from Prime Cables Ergo. The great thing about this product is that you can put it on any type of table top. You just need to replace the legs. I absolutely love it. I have set up 3 different settings and the cable management is out of this world!

Purchased Here: Prime Cables Ergo Standing Desk

Speaker Phone:

I absolutely love my Plantronics headset; the sound quality is out of this world. I have used this for ages, and the battery life is incredible, but I don’t know about you. Now that I am taking all my meetings from home, I really love not having to wear my headset for 8 hours a day.

Last Black Friday, I was trying to decide if I would buy the Dell Mobile Adapter Speakerphone or something else. The deciding factor was that I don’t have a monitor, or I didn’t have a docking station at the time with a type-c port.

I decided on the ANKER Powerconf S3 Bluetooth speaker, and my biggest regret was not purchasing it sooner.

Purchased Here : Anker PowerConf

Laptop Riser:

I am not sure which year or generation I have. When our offices shut down, we were able to take some things from our desk home and I love the ergonomics of this one. It is at the right height. I would most likely take one that you can either rise or adjust but I lucked out and got a really good one for me. Thanks Dell!

Treadmill:

Alright this is not an essential but now that I have it, I feel like it is, if it is within your budget.

I am soooo tired after work and in the winter months, I really don’t feel like being active or going outside when its dark. I purchased this early 2020 to walk and work at the same time! Especially if you are on long conference calls, forecasting or QBRs this is a great way to keep moving well sitting on those long calls. I probably walk about 2 hours a day and sometimes more if I am really feeling energized.

At the end of my workday I feel so productive that I got in my steps and helped all the customers we needed to at the same time! Highly recommend it!

Purchased Here: TR1200-DT3

Wacom Tablet

I purchased this tablet within the first few weeks of the pandemic. I am the person when I visit an office or I do a training, I absolutely love writing on a whiteboard, to get my point across. Especially in IT, customers love when we can draw out their data center and how the software integrates with it.

The awesome thing about this little tablet is the size and how it connects right away to work with zoom. I made a video HERE, to show you how I use it.

Purchased Here: Wacom Intuos USB Bluetooth

External Webcam

I purchased this about two years ago while working from home. I was tired of my customers viewing just the side of my head all the time. Buying an external camera not only helps your viewers see you on the right angle but typically if you have an older laptop or PC , the webcam quality is a lot better.

When it comes to brand there are loads of different webcam providers but hands down I am a massive fan of Logitech. Would actually be a dream to be sponsored by the company! Huge fan of all their products.

Purchased Here: Logitech Pro Webcam

Dell Docking station

Where are my cable management people at? I love a nicely organized desk and the Dell Docking station makes it super easy. I actually attach it to the bottom of my desk but I think it looks really nice sitting on the desk! It has multiple ports that are good for all types of monitors.

I especially love that the new one has a type C port that compliments some audio speakerphones and mobile devices.


This is going to be short and sweet.

I feel like I am not the only one, that was having a difficult time to virtualize my background. I don’t have a solid coloured wall in my office, so I was never able to get the virtual background feature to work.

Every time I tried, my face would end up being part of the background, like the image I used for this Blog. I thought it was the quality of my webcam but after doing research it all comes down to processing power. If you are not getting a new computer anytime soon, I found a quick fix that might also work for you.

I work at Dell, and I am using a Latitude 5490, which is about two years old, and I know this fix also works for the generation before.

QUICK FIX for your Dell Laptop

If you don’t have a dell laptop, I am sure the steps are similar just with a different vendor.

Head over to:

https://www.dell.com/support/home/en-ca

Once you are there, you will need to locate your service tag on the bottom of your laptop. You will need to type it in the search bar and hit enter, and your product support page will upload.

This page will appear and you will have a lot of options to review warranty, run diagnostics and most importantly why we are here today! Drivers and Downloads.

What you will need to download is the below :

Update BIOS

Update Graphics Driver

Feel free to update everything if you want! It is not necessary to run virtual backgrounds. Once you have completed this, restart your computer and BOOM! It is working! Hopefully, this was helpful for you and thank you for stopping by!

After my recent post about technology to invest in for a better work from home experience, posted here. I wanted to show you a step by step approach on how to do a virtual whiteboarding for your customer meetings or internal meetings utilizing the Wacom Intuos.

I find somehow when I use the combination of talking over video while drawing out what I am trying to explain, it makes for way more interactive meetings, where people are not falling asleep. I am sure there is a statistic out there that proves this.

After being in meetings where people are using an IPAD pro with the $200 electronic pencil and trying other tablets and testing the latency, I have noticed there is quite some lag on Zoom Whiteboarding and Teams with those products. I decided to go one step forward and test out the Wacom Intuos that I purchased from Dell.ca HERE. From other solutions, this comes at an affordable price at $139.99. I purchased it from Dell because that is where I work! #iwork4dell

If you want to see all the specs and why it’s so great, go check over at the link, they will tell you better than I can!

I wanted to show you steps on how to set this tablet up!

Steps on Whiteboarding on ZOOM

Step 1: Run Installer

Plug in your tablet into a USB drive and download and install the driver to “Run Set up Wizard.” If you want to review the steps on how to do the install, Wacom made a helpful video on how to set that up.

Step 2: Software Settings

After the drivers are installed and you have reset your computer, you can now open Wacom Desktop Center software on your computer.

In this software you will be able to do the following things:

  • Screen control settings
  • Pen Settings
  • Redeem free software
  • Express Key Customization
  • etc

Step 3: Customize On-Screen Control Settings/Mapping

The most important thing that I have figured out is that you need to map where your whiteboard is going to be on your screen. For most of us, we have more than 1 Screen. You will need to Click OnScreen Control Settings.

From here, you will then see a ribbon at the top that will show an option of mapping. Click Mapping

When you are in the mapping section, it will show all your screens that you have. Now you can decide, do you want to share on Monitor 1, 2 or 3. I find it way easier to just have the whiteboard usable on one screen; that way, the pencil is easier to control.

There are lots of features in this section that it could take pages of screenshots to show you all the options. If you want something specific, please feel free to comment below, and I can help.

Step 4: Set up on Zoom/Test on Zoom prior to meeting

Set up a meeting with only you as the participant. When you have an empty zoom meeting set up, click Share Screen

After you have selected Share, a pop up will open up on your screen asking you to choose a window or application that you want to share. Click whiteboard, and this will open up a blank white canvas to start sharing your whiteboard.

Make sure that you drag the whiteboard to the screen where you selected the mapping up above.

Step 5: Start practicing your whiteboarding skills, you can only get better as you continue to use it.

Thank you for reading! If you have any best practices on white-boarding for clients or co-workers, please feel free to share below!

Initially, I was going to write what you should invest in for working from home, such as an ergonomic chair or a proper desk. However, I deem this essential and almost not worth mentioning. I took some time to think of what I would write, and what I believe is the most important to focus on is, what things you should buy for a better customer online experience.

I would also like to state that I have not been sponsored to mention any of these products; this is just what I have tried and experienced.

Some companies had managed to stay ahead of the digital transformation curve when all their meetings turned remote, not much changed for them. On the flip side, I am seeing lots of organizations struggling with this new normal.

Here are a few things you should invest in to make your meetings from okay to an exceptional experience.

NUMBER 1: a Headset with noise cancelling

Most of us have some sort of communication device. However, these range from speakerphone on your laptop to the free headphones included with your mobile phone purchase.

The reason why your internal speaker on your computer doesn’t do the job is that it picks up so much external noise from your room. Most of the time, it has a challenge picking up the correct audio in the room. I have participated in numerous meetings, and the customer rarely raises the concern of sound during your sales pitch to say they can’t hear you well. I find headphones such as beats and apple AirPods also not up for the job for these types of meetings unless you are just listening.

My point is to invest in a headset where the company primarily sells communication devices that you have been tested in this type of environment and know works well. I have selected the Plantronics Voyager Focus UC. I have used it now for almost two years and absolutely love it because I get feedback from customers that the audio is excellent. I have also had some experience with Jabra and love Logitech! Even some budget-friendly headsets that work well.

NUMBER 2: An External Webcam

A lot of sales executives have needed to pivot from onsite meetings to over the phone. As you know and from your experience of the last three months it is not the same experience for our customers. It is going to be different.

I decided to invest in a decent steaming web camera that I could place above my monitor so the customer would see me front in the center. I have a lot of internal meetings with my team, and I have been viewing the side of their face for about three months. It is excellent for connection to provide eye contact with your team and customers. Trust me; it makes a difference.

The one I have been using and have tested is the Logitech HD Pro C922, and it seems to be working well, minus the fact that I cannot use Zoom backgrounds.

If you don’t want to invest in a webcam, my only suggestion is that you sit in the direction of your built-in webcam as you have these customer calls.

NUMBER 3: A wacom Tablet

Remember the days of whiteboarding in a customers office or on a scrap piece of paper? Well, those days are over in Canada for a few months or even potentially until 2021.

I am not sure when customers are going to want us to come in for a visit, so we need to adjust how we communicate our message and our sales pitch.

I have looked at Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and they both have whiteboarding features. With the Wacom tablet, it offers you no lag time when whiteboarding your meeting. I am in the middle of writing another blog post on how to set it up and the best practices on how to use it.

If you only want to invest in one of these three, I would suggest the Wacom Tablet, and it is so beneficial to draw out or write out what I am talking about with a customer or internal co-worker for training purposes.

What is some tech that you have been using during this time? I am curious about what has helped you connect with customers in a different new way?

Today, our routine look’s anything but ordinary. However, we must have a schedule. I have been working remotely for quite some time. I don’t call it working from home but running an operation from home.

I wanted to share my schedule with you and how I can stick to it. It is crucial to have organizational skills to maintain your working environment. It doesn’t take a few weeks to master, but months and for some of us years. The number reason I have a schedule is to put in boundaries of how many hours I day I work to ensure I don’t burn out. My plan and this blog post is based on my role in sales but is practical for all functions.

First things first, If you are new to operating at home, create a list of all the Pros and Cons of working in an office, here is mine for some inspiration:

ProsCons
– Faster Response time with colleagues
– A Clear start and Finish
– Coffee Breaks
– Have a clean working environment
– Free Internet
– Collaboration
– Building Rapport with colleagues
– Too many distractions throughout the day
– Commuting to Work
– Too much food and drinks to eat
– People stealing my cables




Okay, there are a lot of pros to working in an office, but the list of working remotely is much more detailed. However, at this point, this post is not regarding what’s better; it’s only about building a schedule.

Now that you have the PROs list created, it is crucial to incorporate these into your weekly schedule, remotely.

Tip #1 Pre-Schedule the Things that Matter

How I do this is by scheduling in the below re-occurring meetings weekly. Whether you are using outlook or Gsuite, this can be done through the settings. Here are the things that I pre-schedule. If these things are important to you, you should rarely skip them.

  • Weekly Touchpoints with Manager, & Account Executive
  • Monday Morning Coffee Break with the full team
  • Lunch Break
  • 1:1 Coaching Session with Mentor
  • Manufacture Meeting – Sync up
  • Internal Team Meetings

Tip # 2 Block your non-working hours

“I cannot log off at 5:30 PM, due to my colleagues and my customers sending in requests”

I never did this before COVID-19, but today I am finding it crucial for me. Due to all my colleagues working from home, it seems everyone is working crazy long hours.

When working in Switzerland for three years, I learned it was rude to send emails on the weekend or after 5:30 PM in their culture, unless something was really on fire. Now, I pre-set all my emails to send in the morning if I am working past 5:30 PM. It is a simple courtesy to help your customers and co-workers have a break at the end of the day to disconnect. I have difficulty not to check my emails at night, so this helps everyone.

Here are two excellent links on how to set your working hours in your calendar.

GSuite Working Hours Link Here!

Outlook Working Hours Link Here!

Tip #3 How to Communicate your Schedule

Having a great schedule built out is excellent, but not communicating it to your manager is half of the planning. If your manager doesn’t buy into it or support your schedule, it will end up not working out.

Notify your colleagues and customers of your response times and working hours so that there are no misunderstandings. This process can be done slowly over time, through phone conversations and just training how you respond to people’s requests.

“I can’t stop working at 5:30 PM because the requests just keep coming in”

The worse thing is to leave someone hanging when they need to get a hold of you.

Here are my tips on creating a schedule, feel free to leave a comment below, with some best practices that you are currently doing. I would love to learn from you!

JP