Tips to avoid awkward online meeting moments

  • 22-05-20
  • Chloe Weldon

We are rapidly approaching the end of our third month of remote working and if there is one thing lockdown has taught us, it is that technology has been our lifeline – not only keeping us connected to our teams at work but also to our families and friends.

But there has been, of course, the downside of technology – when ‘what could go wrong?’ does go wrong! Cast your mind back a few years to the now-famous interview with the BBC South Korea expert whose livestream was hijacked by his two children, and more recently the hapless girl who left her phone still videoing her while she took her ill-timed bathroom break. The stuff of legends for sure, but in recent months these examples have proved to be only the tip of the iceberg of technological fails.

So not liking to be upstaged here at Richard Lloyd, I present to you some of the weirdest, most awkward and funny video encounters we have had over the last 3 months:

The one with the 'hilarious, you had to be there' Zoom name change

Midway through a Monday morning candidate meeting with an experienced CFO, I looked down to the corner of my Zoom screen, and to my horror noticed that I was not called “Chloe Weldon”, rather I was hosting the meeting under my Friday-night-zoom-drink alter-ego “ChloDawg”. I’m not sure whether my red face was noticeable, but like a true professional the CFO in question did not flinch or question the name. I will be eternally grateful to him for that.

The one with 'Dad mode' activated

It's hard enough for parents to juggle work and home-schooling without the added pressure of live streaming. On a crucial call, a colleague was taking down a detailed job order with a CFO and the company HR representative, demonstrating just how patient and great at listening he was when all of a sudden his children broke out into a full-blown brawl on camera behind him. With an unsuccessful click of his mute button, he quickly escorted both children to their rooms, whilst screaming hellfire and all manner of threats only to return to his clients in hysterics at his verbal tirade.

The one with the Pug

No doubt you have all experienced the call when somebody’s pet is causing a bit of a commotion in the background and you’re all trying hard to keep calm and carry on with it. However, recently I was Zooming with a great Finance Manager, talking through his experience and his dog was trying so hard to get his attention; without even batting an eye I just suggested that his dog join the Zoom call if it would keep him calm. Safe to say, it is going down as my favourite meeting of this time and probably my first and most probably my last canine candidate ever. The Pug in question was surprisingly good at Behavioural interview questions too!

The one with the forgetful Zoom host

Gone are the days when we would just send our office address or the location of a coffee shop to meet a job seeker or employer and turn up. Now though a bit of extra planning is required before an online meeting. Recently a colleague of mine was waiting patiently for a client to join their Zoom meeting, and I mean recruiters are not entirely unaccustomed to being stood up from time to time, however being stood up on a virtual meeting – it was unthinkable! Turns out, she had forgotten to send the client the password to the meeting, so the Payroll Manager was stuck in 'the' Waiting Room wondering what on earth was going on.

The one with the 'just rolled out of bed' look

We all know that there is now a stark contrast in our appearance for meetings that are just audio vs. meetings that are videos. Maybe it was just an oversight or an assumption on my colleague’s part, but when she dialled into a very normal-seeming WhatsApp Video meeting with a potential candidate, as the faces popped up – she noticed a look of sheer horror on her candidate’s face. The poor guy had thought it was just a phone call, was in his pyjamas, had spiky bed hair and his eyes were a little bleary! Demonstrating true resilience, he didn’t shy away and he carried on and addressed his appearance head-on. Safe to say, he earned honesty (and hilarity) points with my colleague.

No doubt, you will also have your own horror stories that will live on thanks to the miracle of online technology. But if anything, this has given us great comfort in knowing that we are still our humorous, clumsy old selves during this pandemic and that regardless of how this virus affects the wider corporate world and its norms – we will always have those wonderful red-face moments to look back on.


No one is infallible during these times and something like the odd 'faux pas' can make us seem more human and 'real' in a time when everything else has been turned upside down.