We have been using video for interviews for a few years now and I have watched many top candidates negatively impact the impression they leave because of simple items that could have been fixed with some preparation. Impressions are formed in seconds so, even if your technical challenges are ‘not your fault’, you might create an impression that even your best interview responses will not overcome.
Top 10 Must-Do preparations for a Video Interview:
- Start a few days ahead – Practice, test, practice, test. So many people wait until just minutes before hand and get flustered when things don’t work. This is not a team meeting or Zoom call with a friend – this is your first or second impression and your level of preparation, stress levels and competence will all be judged and extrapolated as to how you will manage in the job, so prepare.
- Camera angle – to come across as confident and compelling stand up and have the camera just slightly looking up to you (but not up your nose). Stand up desks are great for this, and you can also rest your hands on the desk limiting any temptation to fidget or touch your face. Purchase a quality camera that you can move and position for the best angle ($50-70). Do not do an interview on your phone unless there is no other option.
- Lighting– have light coming onto your face – soft and diffused light is best. An inexpensive solution for this is a strong light opposite a reflector disc ($15) in front of your face. You can adjust the angle to eliminate shadows on your face. Putting one on the desk under your face can make you look younger by reducing shadows under your eyes and nose. Play around with this to get it right.
- Background – keep it simple. A cream or blue sheet tacked up behind you can work fine. You can also get pop ups ($25) or a backdrop with a stand for around $60. Using these eliminates having to clean up every time you have a video call. Otherwise, declutter your background and make sure nothing looks like it is sticking out of your head. I do not recommend the digital backgrounds as sometimes they cut off your head or cause you to temporarily disappear.
- Sound – I prefer a headset with mic because I can hear better and control the background noise. Your listeners can also hear you better since it avoids the echo and change in volume when you turn your head. Invest in a quality headset as it makes a big difference in sound quality and reducing background noise ($150-$250).
- Distractions – turn off your phone, pop ups, and notification sounds. Lock your door – do not let kids or animals steal the show and waste precious interview time.
- Notes: Have your notes on your screen next to the camera so you can glance at them if needed. If you are not tech savvy or have too small screen, tape your notes onto the screen. Avoid looking down onto a paper.
- Video yourself doing a practice interview – Do you smile enough? Are you looking into the camera? Do you repeat a favorite word too much, touch your face, or twirl your hair? We all have little habits and quirks when we are nervous, which become accentuated in a video call, so control or eliminate these.
- Your Hands – keep them still on your lap or desk. If you use your hands make sure they are only used to support a point you are making, then put them back to their resting place. Hand motions on video can come across as aggressive.
- PRACTICE with the tool your interviewer will use (Zoom, Skype, MSTeams, etc) and make sure your mic and camera are set to work with it. If you are not sure what they will use, ask them to send you a link to test in advance.
In addition to the above preparation, you also need to prepare how you will respond to their anticipated questions. If you want to go beyond just getting the job and instead want to be the ‘must have’ candidate, giving you the ability to command more and better terms, follow these 6 key steps. Read more here.
About the author:
With over 20 years in executive leadership and recruiting, Leanne Abraham mentors executives and emerging leaders to help them significantly improve their leadership results and career opportunities. As the President of Premierehire, Leanne leads a growing team of skilled recruiters that work in partnership with companies to achieve higher quality hires with less effort and time.
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