More and more companies are using video services like Skype, Google Hangouts, and Join.Me to interview job candidates and for regular business meetings. Video conferences are a lot cheaper than face-to-face interviews and offer immediate insights. But doing well in video interviews takes some extra effort and understanding of the platform. Now, in addition to all the normal preparation for in-person interviews, you also must prepare for being on camera, which has its own etiquette and pitfalls.
In talking with recruiters, hiring managers, and job candidates who do a lot of video interviews for my new book, Graduate to a Great Career, I learned these 6 important tips:
1. Use the device you are most comfortable with: Is it your laptop, smartphone, or tablet? If you’re unsure, do some mock interviews beforehand to check each out. Avoid technical difficulties on the day of the interview by setting up before and having backup devices at the ready. When it’s over, make sure you end the call.
2. Frame your face so you make direct eye contact. Check your image on the computer, tablet, or smartphone. You want to have your face centered on the screen with a straight sight line between your eyes and the camera. Look directly into the camera, not the screen, as you talk. When others talk, it’s fine to look at them on your screen. One tip from the pros was to move your video chat window near your camera on your computer so you can look at both together.
3. Choose a simple, quiet setting. Pose against something simple and static. Avoid sitting in front of a window if there is movement outside. A cluttered desk or bookshelf with family photos and knickknacks or background noise can take attention away from you and your message. Don’t type during the meeting since the sound will be distracting. You can always keep paper handy to jot a note. To prevent a family member or friend from walking into your stage set, leave a note on the door with the words: “Video Interview.”
4. Set the scene with good lighting. Plentiful lighting is more important than you realize. That’s why they have so many lights on a TV set. So turn on all the lights in the room and bring in additional lights if necessary. Put lights in front of you to brighten your face. Put extra lights behind you for backlighting to avoid a flattened look or dark shadows behind your head. You can test your setup with friends before the video interview.
5. Look your best. In one study, 21% admitted to attending a video meeting with a professional top and pajama pants according to the Wall Street Journal. Take the time to dress as if you were attending in person but with some special adjustments for the camera. Wear clothes or suits in solid colors and avoid busy designs and patterns. Don’t forget hair and makeup. You want a natural look, but if you’re a woman, achieving that will probably take a little more attention to your makeup than usual. Make sure you have some powder on hand to get rid of any shine on your face before the meeting starts.
6. Keep your answers to the point. Video interviews can be less forgiving, not only in how you look but in what you say. Speak in a conversational voice and try to have a conversation as you would in an in-person interview. Avoid one-word answers, but it’s even worse to go on and on and lose your point. Keep your answers no longer than twenty seconds.
Video interviews are a great way to showcase your skills, experience, and personality without leaving home. Career experts predict they will replace telephone interviews for early screening of job candidates, so it’s a skill you’ll want to perfect.
Catherine Kaputa is a personal brand strategist, speaker and author. She is the author of the best-selling You Are a Brand. Her new book is Graduate to a Great Career: How Smart Students, New Graduates and Young Professionals Can Brand Themselves for Success out in April 2016. She is the founder of SelfBrand.
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