In theory, all you need to prepare for a video interview is an internet connection and a webcam. In reality, the ability to shine on-camera takes a bit of skill and planning. You do not need broadcast journalism experience to perform well in a video interview, but knowing a few video interviewing basics can help set you apart from the competition.
Preparing for An On-Camera Interview
While the internet and video technology have made it much easier for employers and candidates to connect, there’s a lot that can go wrong during an online interview. A slow connection or poor audio quality can derail what could have been a successful encounter. As you prepare for your video interview, consider the benefits on the following:
A Pre-Interview Equipment Check – Just because our webcam was working last week, does not ensure it will function when you need it. Consider making a few video calls to friends or family to ensure your camera and microphone are working properly.
Verifying Your Connectivity – Test your internet speed to be sure it can handle audio and video. If your wireless connection tends to drop intermittently, consider connecting directly to your modem or investing in a signal booster. If you are sharing wifi with a roommate, ask them to refrain from using precious bandwidth until after your interview.
Checking Your Screen Name – Some companies use online video conferencing tools such as Skype, Zoom, and Google Hangouts to conduct their interviews. Interviewers will typically send a link to the interview screen or send a call to your user ID. The fun, friendly screen name you used in college may not send an appropriate message to a prospective employer.
Staging Your Video Production
When deciding the best location to set up your equipment, it’s important to consider the interview environment. Select an area that is free from unnecessary background noises and distractions. It may be beneficial to post a note outside your door, unplug your landline, and silence your cell phone during your interview. Until then, there are a few more details to consider, including:
Selecting an Appropriate Background – When you select a location to conduct your interview, consider the view from your interviewer’s perspective. Since the video is about selling yourself, you don’t want your background to distract from your presence. A plain wall is ideal.
Planning Your Wardrobe – Although the interview is being conducting from the comfort of your home, you should dress as if the interview were being conducted in person. On camera, avoid bright colors and complicated patterns. Resist the temptation to only dress for the occasion from the waist up in case of an unanticipated reason to stand during the interview.
Setting Your Camera – Frame yourself in the center of the screen, like a newscaster, from the waist up. Leave a bit of space open at the top of the screen. If the interviewer can see your legs, you are too far from the camera. The camera should be set slightly above eye level. If you are using a tablet, find a way to keep the device stationary so the image is stable and your hands are free.
Verify Your Lighting – Aim for uniform, even lighting. In low light, your webcam may not project a clear, flattering image. If you will be in low light, consider adding a lamp or two to your locale. Harsh overhead lighting or sitting too close to a window can produce unflattering shadows.
Rehearsing Your On-Camera Presence
While most people are reasonably comfortable interviewing in person, the thought of capturing their interview on camera can make even the most experienced job-seeker uncomfortable. This is understandable; the camera can be much less forgiving than the eye. Many people find it helpful to record and evaluate themselves while answering a few standard interview questions. Before you begin recording, consider the following suggestions:
Make Eye Contact – Although you will be tempted to look at your computer screen during your interview, eye contact is made through the lens of your camera. If your eyes are fixed to your screen, you will be perceived as looking downward.
Resist the Urge to Glare – Locking your gaze on your camera throughout the interview can appear overly aggressive. Try to maintain eye contact no more than five seconds, look away, then reconnect your gaze.
Smile Naturally – Many people try to appear more confident than they feel by smiling broadly through their interview. While your goal is to project confidence and enthusiasm, grinning through the entire interview could be perceived as nervous or insincere.
Avoid Verbal Tics – During an interview don’t be afraid to pause while speaking. Some people unintentionally vocalize their pauses by saying “um” or “like” while searching for words. Resist the urge to vocalize your pauses. Silence is fine.
Watch Your Posture – Sit with your back straight and chest open. Keep your feet on the floor. You may feel comfortable at your computer, but slouching or hunching can send the wrong message. Crossing your legs could mess with your framing.
Pause Before Speaking – Avoid talking over your interviewer or allowing a lag in your connection to steal the first few words of your response by pausing a few seconds before speaking. Nodding and smiling occasionally as your interviewer speaks verifies that you are engaged in the conversation.
While some people are still uncomfortable with the video interview process, few are skilled. Preparation can help build your confidence and set you apart from the competition. To connect with employers in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Stamford, CT, and Morristown, NJ, visit Atlantic Group Recruiters. We measure our success by the success of our candidates.