Following the events of the past couple of years, usage of video-based calling and conferencing technologies have skyrocketed – first out of necessity, now out of convenience.
With the use of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meetings, etc, becoming a staple at most businesses, more and more people are finding themselves pencilled in for “video interviews” – the question is, how can you make the best impression through a screen?
In this crash course, we’re going to make sure you are checking all the boxes of professionalism that you can project through a webcam, so let’s get started:
Setting and Lighting
First things first, we have to remember in an interview, you are providing the location – think for a moment about other interview rooms or spaces you’ve been to or seen, think about the elements of those rooms. They’re usually simplistic, functional, clean and well lit – and we want to recreate as many of those elements as we can effectively. Here are a few pointers:
Choose the correct background and setting.
Simplicity is usually what we’re aiming for, if you have a white or lightly coloured wall (nothing too vibrant), use that to start with!
Stay away from windows.
More precisely, keep you back away from windows! Having a window in daylight shining in the background of your shot, or even leaking in from the side, will cast you in shadow. You can use windows to your advantage however, by facing the window, we can use sunlight as a natural-looking front light for you (but more on that later)
This should come as a no-brainer, but in the comfort of their own homes, people tend to overlook the simple things. Keep your workspace, or wherever you’ve set up your laptop/webcam, clean. It’s okay to have other items in the background, but make sure they are tasteful and professional – a plant to give more interest in your surroundings, a bookshelf with relevant books, or similar examples, will indicate you are a structured and organised candidate.
Keep your webcam level.
We want to give the impression that we are conducting this interview in person, so assume that your webcam is your interviewer. Keep your webcam at eye level, so your image appears head-on in the centre of the frame, so no interviews from your lap. Make sure you are on an even and stable surface, with no tilting camera angles, so a table is your best bet. If you are conducting your interview on a smartphone or tablet, it may be worth investing in a reliable stand, as your camera slipping is definitely something to avoid.
As mentioned before, keep windows out of the background, but a backlight is very important. If you have a lamp, place that against your back wall to illuminate it, this will help give depth and brightness to your video stream. Front lighting is also very important, we want to maintain an even spread of lighting across your face. Some webcams are fitted with light alongside it, though homemade methods tend to work better. A window letting in daylight will do excellently, as will a strong lamp reflecting off a wall in front of you. As long as none of your face is in shadow, and you can easily distinguish features on your face, you’re doing great!
Now we’ve got our setting out of the way, we can focus on an equally important aspect – sound. This can be easy to overlook, as you are not able to hear how everything sounds from your interviewer’s end, but by following these tips you’re sure to be on the right track.
Using the mute function.
Sometimes the most important elements of a video meeting are the sounds you don’t hear. While some online meeting software has a ‘selective hearing’ function built-in, it’s best to stay on top of it yourself. Obviously, give yourself ample time to unmute when you have to speak, but eliminating background and ambient noise in a room will give your interviewer a better opportunity to assess how you listen and take on board information.
Mute your phone.
It’s okay, we’ve all done it: you’re in a professional environment and out of nowhere the dreaded ring-tone or echoing text tone blurts out. While you are in control of your surroundings, let’s eliminate that possibility. Mute your telephone and notifications, and keep it off the table – the sound of a phone vibrating on the table is picked up by your laptop (if you’re not wearing a headset) and is a very jarring sound. If you are conducting your interview on your phone or tablet, make sure you also turn off the vibration feature.
Using a headset
If you have access to a headset with a close microphone (like those you see in call centres) it may be a good idea to use that instead of your laptop or phone’s built-in microphone and speakers. While you may feel strange wearing them, a ‘close mic’ will eliminate nearly all invasive background and invasive noise, and give a clear representation of your voice. The visual element of the headset also shows that you are definitely taking on board information, and listening.
Here we are, we’ve set up all our preliminary settings, lighting and sound – let’s get down to brass tacks. Here on our Hunterskill Recruitment Blog, we have many tips and tricks to help you feel confident and effective in an interview environment, so feel free to see how you can use body language to maximise your potential. As for now, here are a handful of useful closing tips to make sure your interview runs smoothly.
Find a reliable internet connection.
While this is also an obvious one, some locations in the home will tend to be less open to internet access than others, so have a quick scout before you start, and build your interview space around there. Also make sure you, or anyone else you may live with, is not running anything taxing on your internet, this includes streaming video, downloading large programs or films, etc., as this can cause your internet connection to fluctuate.
Organise with others in your home.
The last thing you need is an unexpected visit during your interview, or a large shopping delivery when you are so close to sealing the deal. Make sure you make clear with anyone you may live with that you need time and space to conduct business effectively!
Look into the camera.
This one may be one of the most important on this list. The camera, as mentioned earlier is analogous to your interviewer’s eyes, looking anywhere else, will be noticeable on their screen, and may indicate inattentiveness. Be sure not to stare, but stay focussed on the camera, and use that as your point of reference.
Hopefully, we’ve given you something to at least make a start and boost your confidence in this ever-growing space of digital business. You can search for jobs on the Hunterskill website and complete our digital registration form to streamline the recruitment process. Most importantly, make sure you are taking the skills you have learnt about in-person interview techniques, online – perhaps except the handshake, and as always, good luck!