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When Interviewing via Videoconference, Think Hollywood



Even after the pandemic is declared over, interviewing candidates via Zoom, Skype, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts et al. will, because of its convenience, remain popular. You should expect your first interview to take place via video teleconferencing.

Therefore, mastering, or at least becoming comfortable with, “Zoom meetings” and appearing interesting and professional on camera is a skill set you’d greatly benefit from. After all, image, whether face-to-face or via videotelephony, is everything.

If you want to improve your videotelephony skills, avoid making the following mistakes, which I’m sure you’ve seen being made on video conference calls you’ve sat in on.


Mistake #1: Not making eye contact with your interviewer(s).

Look directly at the lens of your camera, not your screen. Eye contact influences your interviewer’s perception of your credibility and trustworthiness. Additionally, your interviewer will be more likely to pay attention to you if you appear expressive and are looking at them.


Mistake #2: Winging it or reading from notes.

Before appearing in front of the camera, actors practice their lines several times—so should you. Prepare, and rehearse, answers to common interview questions (e.g., “Tell me about yourself.”, “What is your greatest strength?”, “Why do you want this job?”) in advance.


Mistake #3: Inviting your interviewer to read the titles on your bookshelf.

For some reason most candidates I interview via video teleconference choose to sit in front of their bookshelves. Maybe they think it makes them look scholarly, or projects they’re into self-improvement. Since I’m a voracious reader, I find myself tilting my head sideways attempting to read the titles of the books behind the candidate. During one interview, I noticed a book by Truman Capote, Other Voices, Other Rooms, which is a favourite of mine. I ended up asking the candidate about their reading habits. For 15 minutes, we talked about our mutual love for American Southern gothic literature, thus eating up interview time. (Yes, I hired the candidate, but not because of their reading diet.)

Your goal is to keep your interviewer(s) engaged and focused. Therefore, avoid having a distracting background. Instead, select a location that doesn’t have many details and is still. (e.g., avoid a window overlooking a busy city street). Better yet, use the video conferencing platform’s virtual background feature that allows you to substitute a photo as your background.


Mistake #4: Too much lighting, not enough lighting.

“I think too many film students in America are losing the artistry and not learning lighting in the right way.” – Vimos Zsigmond (1930 – 2016, Hungarian-American cinematographer)

A significant factor in creating a professional look during a video chat is lighting. Lighting compliments video imagery by helping to deliver a crystal-clear image, making your interviewer feel like they’re in the same room with you.

Cameras need the right lighting to deliver a good image. Your video camera will render a poor-quality image of there’s not enough light, too much light, or light that’s pointed in the wrong direction.

Straight-on lighting is best. The key is for your primary light source to be directly behind your camera, throwing light on your face. This ensures your face is well illuminated and clearly visible. For the best result use natural light coming in through a window, which will create accurate skin tones and colours.

Before your next videotelephony interview, schedule a video conference with a friend and use the self-view feature to experiment with lighting and virtual backgrounds. Place yourself in front of a window, lamp, or both and have your friend give you feedback on how you appear.


A few last-minute tips:

  • Make certain you’re not going to be disturbed during your videotelephony interview and that your environment will be quiet. (“Quiet on the set!”) The last thing you want is your spouse calling out, “What do you want for dinner!”
  • Call into the conference at least 10 minutes early. You want to be sure your technology is working (audio, visual), and you don’t want to keep your interviewer waiting. (The equivalent of being late.)
  • Turn off your smartphone and close all tabs on your computer. (You don’t want the pinging of emails coming in or chat messages.)
  • Just like a face-to-face interview, dress for the job you’re interviewing for. Guys, between you and me, it’s okay to use some makeup—Christian Bale, Samuel L. Jackson, Brad Pitt, Tim Hiddleston sit in a makeup chair before walking onto a film set.
  • When you’re not talking, mute yourself.
  • Record the interview! (review afterwards)



Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send him your questions at

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Workers at Teck Resources’ British Columbia mine to hold ratification vote



Canadian miner Teck Resources Ltd said on Monday that a union representing 1,048 workers at its British Columbia mine has agreed to hold a ratification vote on the mediators’ recommendation.

The union will schedule a ratification vote to be concluded no later than January 24, the company said.

Last week, the company said it had received a strike notice from the union at its Highland Valley Copper Operations in British Columbia, without providing any reasons behind the potential strike.


(Reporting by Rithika Krishna in Bengaluru; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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Markets split on BoC decision as business survey, inflation loom – BNN



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The Bank of Canada is getting a pair of key indicators this week ahead of a rate decision next Wednesday that’s virtually a coin toss, as far as markets are concerned.

First up on Monday, the central bank releases its quarterly Business Outlook Survey, which provides a snapshot of how approximately 100 corporate leaders are feeling about the economy and their own business fundamentals.

When the last survey was released in October, it showed the broadest gauge of sentiment was at the highest level in the survey’s history. That was despite worsening labour shortages and as more than half of respondents (57 per cent) said they expected labour costs to accelerate over the next year.

“[Monday’s] Business Outlook Survey might have been completed too early to catch Omicron uncertainties, so expect respondents to retain a healthy dose of optimism,” said CIBC World Markets Chief Economist Avery Shenfeld in a report to clients Friday.

“The survey could show a majority expecting inflation to run above the top end of the Bank of Canada’s one-three per cent inflation band. If not for Omicron, that would spell a rate hike in January, but the uncertainties surrounding how long this disruption will last should be enough to defer that decision.”

Meanwhile, Statistics Canada will release the consumer price index for December on Wednesday. Economists are expecting to see inflation rose 4.8 per cent year-over-year in the month; that would be the fastest rate of growth since 1991.

As of 8:30 a.m. Monday morning, market data shows investors see a 59 per cent chance of a rate hike when the Bank of Canada delivers its decision on Jan. 26.

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House Price Index rose 26% in 2021, fastest pace on record – CBC News



The Canadian Real Estate Association’s House Price Index rose by 26.6 per cent in the 12 months up to December, the fastest annual pace of gain on record.

The group, which represents more than 100,000 realtors and tabulates sales data from homes that listed and sell via the Multiple Listings Service, said the supply of homes for sale at the end of the month hit an all-time low.

After pausing for a few weeks in the early days of the pandemic, Canada’s housing market has been on an absolute tear for the past two years, as feverish demand from buyers wishing to take advantage of rock-bottom interest rates has drastically outpaced the supply of homes to buy.

That imbalance is a major factor contributing to higher prices, as buyers have to pay more and more to outbid others because of the lack of alternatives.

Various experts are suggesting that parts of the country are showing signs of being in a speculative bubble, and CREA says the biggest reason for runaway price increases is that there aren’t enough homes being put up for sale.

“There are currently fewer properties listed for sale in Canada than at any point on record,” CREA’s chief economist Shaun Cathcart said. “So unfortunately, the housing affordability problem facing the country is likely to get worse before it gets better.”

High prices not denting demand

CREA says the average price of a Canadian home that sold on MLS in December went for $713,500. That’s actually down from the record high of more than $720,000 in November, but still well up on an annual basis.

High prices don’t seem to be slowing demand, however, as 2021 was the busiest year for home sales ever. Some 666,995 residential properties traded hands on MLS last year, smashing the previous annual record by 20 per cent.

TD Bank economist Rishi Sondhi said that there was a less than two-month supply of homes for sale during the month, which means at the current sales pace, all listings would be gone in less than two months. Under normal conditions, there’s a five-month supply of homes for sale, and Sondhi says that supply and demand imbalance is a major factor in eye-popping price gains.

“With interest-rate pull-forward behaviour keeping demand so strong, and supply struggling to keep up, it’s little wonder why prices are continuing their relentless upward march,” he said. “Buyers pulling forward demand ahead of looming interest rate hikes kept sales at unsustainable levels last month. How long this effect will last is uncertain, but it should eventually fade.”

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