An untidy room could cost you your dream job, new BT research finds

  • BT study reveals 58% of interviewers would not hire the perfect candidate if their room in the video background was messy

  • A quarter of candidates have experienced audio issues during a video interview

  • BT Skills for Tomorrow provides must-have tips, resources and advice on how to stand out in your job search

New research from BT Skills for Tomorrow found almost a third of interviewers admit to not hiring someone based on something they have seen in a candidate’s video backdrop (28%), with a further 58% saying a messy room in the background could cost someone the job.

A poll of 500 recruitment decision-makers reveals modern day job interview faux pas, such as 20% of calls have been joined by the household pet. Other interviewees have been caught short, with 13% standing up mid-call to reveal they are dressed in joggers or underwear.

The research also polled 500 people who have taken part in a video job interview over the last 12 months. The pandemic has meant job seekers have had, on average, three virtual interviews during lockdown, with most interviews now conducted via video (56%). Remote interviews are likely to remain the new normal with 42% of interviewers wanting to continue this way after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

While unreliable audio (25%) was also among the most common issues, one in 10 also admitted to answering a phone call during the interview. Video backdrops are viewed by some as a representation of a candidate’s work ethic, as more than two thirds of interviewers (67%) believe that applicants did not put enough thought into their background when on a virtual call.

More than half (51%) of interviewees believe video interviews are harder than those done face-to-face, and 30% have deliberately placed an ‘object of interest’ in shot behind them, to use as a talking point.

With 4 in 10 job seekers unable to land a job from virtual interviews, people need some support to impress potential employers over video. A number of candidates are already being proactive, with a third carefully tailoring their backgrounds to create a more positive impression, including books, awards and house plants.

BT Skills for Tomorrow is offering free resources and advice to support job seekers across the UK prepare for a digital future. This includes an upcoming interactive webinar – ‘be a hit at interviews’ – on 19 April 2021, designed to help jobseekers improve their interview technique, whether that’s by phone, on a video call or in person in the future.

Hannah Cornick, Head of Digital Impact, Consumer said: “Video calls are going to remain part of the hiring process well into the future, and there is an opportunity for candidates to use this to their advantage.

“Being in control of your environment and in a familiar space can help reduce nerves and allow you to showcase your personality. While you can’t always plan for unexpected interruptions, there are things you can do when preparing for a video interview to ensure you come across professionally and set yourself up for success.

“This is the time to show the interviewer your strengths and how you stand out from the crowd, without any distractions from your surroundings.”

In January this year, BT Skills for Tomorrow also launched Stand Out Skills to help candidates get in the right mindset for the journey ahead, discover the skills that businesses are looking for and understand how to make their strengths stand out. This is part of BT’s Skills for Tomorrow commitment to help 10 million people make the most of life in the digital world.




Notes to Editors

The research was conducted by One Poll.com with 500 UK adults who’ve had a job interview via video call in the past 12 months and 500 UK employed adults responsible for hiring decision at their company between the dates of 18th to 24th March 2021.


About BT Skills for Tomorrow

BT Skills for Tomorrow is helping 10 million people in the UK make the most of life in the digital world. It is completely free and designed to help everyone - from school children and teachers, parents and families, businesses and jobseekers, to older and more vulnerable people. Working in partnership with leading digital skills, enterprise and community organisations, we have created and collated some of the best advice, information and support in one easy-to-navigate place. Visit www.bt.com/skillsfortomorrow

Since the Covid-19 crisis began, BT has provided support for all its customers – from providing unlimited data for broadband customers and offering unlimited mobile data for any NHS staff on EE, through to supporting the homeless, and connecting the NHS Nightingale hospitals and providing hundreds of free digital skills and educational resources. The resources provide support in a wide range of areas – from home-schooling to business webinars and include help for people with low or no digital skills to ensure they can keep in touch with loved ones and access vital health services.

About BT

BT Group is the UK’s leading telecommunications and network provider and a leading provider of global communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities in the UK include the provision of fixed voice, mobile, broadband and TV (including Sport) and a range of products and services over converged fixed and mobile networks to consumer, business and public sector customers. For its global customers, BT provides managed services, security and network and IT infrastructure services to support their operations all over the world. BT consists of four customer-facing units: Consumer, Enterprise, Global and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Openreach, which provides access network services to over 650 communications provider customers who sell phone, broadband and Ethernet services to homes and businesses across the UK.

For the year ended 31 March 2020, BT Group’s reported revenue was £22,905m with reported profit before taxation of £2,353m.

British Telecommunications plc is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

For more information, visit www.bt.com/about