5 Best Background Plants for a Remote Interview

How we interview for jobs has changed wildly in recent years — with travel restrictions and health concerns abounding, many companies are now turning to remote interviews to continue to find great employees. Back in 2019, I worried about nailing my outfit, getting there on time (aka early!), remembering to bring a copy of my resume, making sure I didn’t have anything stuck in my teeth—the list goes on and on. 

Remote interviews, which many of us are doing these days, bring with them a different set of challenges. I can get away with wearing sweatpants off camera, but I also have to worry about construction noises in my building or stray clothes strewn across my bedroom floor. Additionally, a study from Zillow in 2017 found that over half of young adults ages 23-29 live either with roommates or family. With rents continuing to rise, more and more millennials and Gen Z-ers are having to find ways to maintain professionalism while working out of shared spaces. 

Interviews are all about how you present yourself, and now in 2021 that presentation often includes not just you, but also the space where you live and work, so it’s even more important to make your surroundings work for you. Our spaces are doing double time as homes and offices, and it can often be tricky to walk the line between making your space comfortable while also keeping it appropriate for the workplace. 

We all want to put our best foot forward, so to help you do that, here are some plants you can use in the background to add both a splash of color and a dash of personality to your next remote interview!

1) Pothos

If you’re looking for an easy-to-manage, sophisticated plant, look no further than Pothos! Pothos plants grow fast and can thrive even without much direct sunlight, so they’re perfect as a home office plant (because there is, of course, nothing worse than logging on to a remote interview only to spot out of the corner of your eye that your plant has died). They can also grow well either in soil or water, which makes them the perfect choice for a hard-to-reach area, just place your Pothos in a jug of water and let them flourish.

When interviewing remotely, you want to be able to show your interviewer that you can handle all of the responsibilities that come with a position. Nothing says ‘I am a capable and reliable candidate’ like a vibrant, healthy Pothos sitting behind you. And if it doesn’t actually take much effort to keep your Pothos alive, well, they don’t have to know that. 

2) Snake Plants

Don’t have conveniently placed shelves behind you to easily display your plants? Never fear, there are over 70 different species of snake plants, and they can range in height from 8 inches to 12 feet! An added bonus for snake plant owners is that snake plants can filter toxins like formaldehyde and benzene out of the environment around them, keeping the air in your home office fresh and clean. Care is simple. Just plop your pot on the ground, water occasionally, and enjoy the looks of awe from your interviewers. 

One added benefit to having a snake plant companion is the ever-present reminder to correct your posture. Body language is one of the best tools you can use to convey confidence and strength, but in a remote interview, most of your body will not be in view of the camera. So roll your shoulders back, lift your chin up and sit (or stand) tall — if the snake plant can do it, so can you!

3) ZZ 

ZZ, or Zamioculcas Zamiifolia if you’re feeling fancy, is eye-catching but not distracting, not too tall and not too short, the perfect size to spruce up your video background without grabbing the attention away from you, the interviewee. If you’re looking for a plant to tell your visitors ‘I have a great sense of style and also shop at West Elm’, ZZ is the plant for you. They are also incredibly resilient,  can survive without natural light, and are extremely drought tolerant. These are some of the reasons why ZZ plants are often called heirloom plants, because they live long enough to pass from one generation to another. 

It may come off as unassuming with its shorter stature and moderately sized leaves, but the ZZ plant is also, and this is important to note, poisonous. So, handle with care and be sure to keep pets away. Companies are often looking for out-of-the-box thinkers, candidates who are willing, if not eager, to face challenges head-on. If you’re looking for something to simultaneously brighten up your office space while also demonstrating a willingness to take risks, the ZZ plant is the home office plant for you!

4) Aloe 

Perfect for the novice plant owner, Aloe is yet another plant that can survive with infrequent watering. Not only is it a cool-looking plant, but it also has many additional uses. Did you get a sunburn over the weekend? Need to quickly exfoliate before going on camera? No need to run to the store, instead just use the naturally occurring gel from your Aloe. And, once you’re done with your interview and want to kick back and relax, Aloe can also be used as an ingredient to make a number of refreshing drinks and yummy foods.

Your interviewer will want to know all the different ways you are able to tackle and resolve problems. In an interview it’s important to show off your flexibility and problem-solving skills, and one great way to do that is to walk through your thought process in handling a specific challenge. Another (admittedly more subtle) way to demonstrate this to an interviewer is using a conveniently-placed Aloe. The Aloe owner is resourceful and always prepared for anything, yet another quality your interviewers will be looking for. 

5) Sunflowers

Depending on your location, time of year, and what is going on in the world around you, it can sometimes be hard to fight through the gloom and present a positive and lively energy in a remote interview. This is where a splash of color via home office plant can come in handy. (Also, did YOU know you can grow sunflowers indoors?? I definitely didn’t…) Sunflowers are admittedly less resilient than some of our other suggestions, they do need a good amount of sunlight each day, and require regular watering.

However, adding Sunflowers to the background of your interview may be worth the work, as they can brighten both your space and your mood. Sunflowers are eye-catching and easily recognizable, so they can easily serve as both a conversation boost if needed and also as encouragement to smile even if you really don’t feel like it. If you want all the beauty of the sunflower without the added work, just stick some fake sunflowers in a vase. We won’t tell 😉  

Stand Tall and Stand Out in Your Next Remote Interview

In an interview, you’re going to be working double-time to convey not only your achievements but also your character. But now, in a world of remote interviewers, the world (or more specifically the space behind you) is a canvas that you can, with a little thought, use to your advantage. All it takes is a quick trip to your local plant store.

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