I’m an 80’s kid who grew up watching sci-fi movies, marveling at what could be the technology of the future. I can admit that I am still waiting on flying cars and hoverboards to be the norm. Although we might not be quite there yet, we do have some impressive business technology today, including video interviews.
You don’t have to go back to the future to participate in a video interview – they’re happening all the time, right here and now! If you haven’t done one yet, there is a good chance that you will in a future job search. Even tools such as video resumes are becoming more common.
At Capstone Search Advisors, we have expanded our usage of video interviews to give a more personal relationship to candidates we aren’t able to meet face to face. We even have an online platform where candidates can record video answers for pre-qualification questions for a prospective employer. This tool gives candidates a chance to showcase their personality along with pertinent skills and experience that may not have been included on their resume.
In the case of a video interview, resume or just a plain video call with a recruiter, use these tips to knock it out of the park:
Dress to Impress
A key to a great video interview is making sure you look presentable. An interview is an interview. Just because you aren’t in the same room as your interviewer doesn’t change the fact that you should dress for the occasion. You might feel silly sitting at home wearing a suit and talking to a computer, but it will make all the difference. It’s also a psychological benefit to dress the part – you’ll feel more confident in a suit than in your pajamas for your video interview.
Choose Your Colors Wisely
While we’re on the topic of video interview attire, it’s best to wear neutral, solid colors. Try to stay away from colors that match your skin and hair tones and avoid overly-busy patterns because they will be a distraction. For men, it is best to wear a darker shade suit with a white or light colored shirt and darker tie (the colors will stand out better as opposed to blending together). Ladies, a blouse is fine in either light or dark shades, as long as it follows the rules above.
Let There Be Light
You want to make sure that you don’t have any bright lights or windows positioned behind you during your video interview. They have the tendency to drown out your image and you appear to be a solid dark figure like something from a horror movie. Adding a desk lamp or light in front of you is a quick fix.
Take the Right Angle
If you remember the movie “The Blair Witch Project,” you understand that camera angle is very important. The “up the nose” angle is not a glamorous look. Positioning your camera at eye level and at a moderate distance gives the look and feel of a traditional person-to-person interview. Don’t be ashamed to prop up your laptop or phone with some books to get the height and angle right for the video interview.
Can You Hear Me Now
Whether you are using your laptop or cell phone, the sensitivity of the microphone can vary greatly. Your voice can end up sounding muffled or create an echo effect making it very difficult to understand what you’re saying. If they can’t hear you clearly, they may miss that key experience that seals the deal and gets your dream job. Don’t be afraid to use a bluetooth or wired headset to make sure your audio is coming through clearly.
Clean Your Room
Your surroundings can be just as important as your personal presentation. The interviewer does not want to see you sitting in front of a pile of junk or a month’s worth of dirty laundry. Clean up the room so there is nothing to distract the interviewer from what you have to say.
Go to Your Quiet Place
Cell phone and laptop microphones pick up much more background noise than you might think. Dogs barking, children crying, funny ringtones or music can distract an interviewer. People walking in and out of your interview space can also be distracting. If need be, make yourself a “Do Not Disturb” sign and stick it on the door for the duration of the video interview.
Two Minute Warning
Right before the video interview is not a good time to realize that you’re having technical issues. Get everything set up the night before, then Skype a friend and get their feedback. Can you see and hear them? Can they see and hear you? Is the picture clear? Is the lighting okay? Is there too much background noise? When it comes time for the interview, close all other applications on your laptop or cell phone so you have as much processing power for your video platform.
Dealing with Technical Difficulties
You can be prepared, follow all the steps to test your system and still have issues. Even the best video platforms experience some transmission delays and internet connections can come and go. If you run into some issues, honesty is the best policy.
If you notice a lag in the video, pause before you talk to make sure the interviewer is done speaking. If you can’t hear them or vice versa, let them know as early as possible. Try to sort out the problem, or worst case – suggest using Skype for the video and a phone for the audio (be prepared for this backup plan, just in case). The main thing is to stay calm. This is not the time to display your vast knowledge of four-letter words, because Murphy’s Law dictates that will be the moment they can hear you.
Some Final Reminders
The key is to treat this like any other face-to-face meeting. Maintain good posture and smile throughout your video interview. Smiling is a big one – this makes you look positive, confident and enthusiastic about the job you are applying for.
Look straight into the camera when you are talking, as this will make the interviewer feel as if you are speaking directly to them. It’s very easy to get enthralled with your own face on the screen, so it’s best to pretend the camera is the interviewer’s face.
Don’t shout, but do speak loudly and clearly.
Lastly, relax and have fun. By the time you have done your research, know your stuff and look great, all you have to do is work the camera.