If you haven’t encountered the video interview yet, just wait. In order to better manage the time of Recruiters and Hiring Managers and to save travel expenses, many companies are turning to them.
There are two basic types of video interview. Live interviews, where you talk to the interviewer from your video device, were the first wave. While they are still used, their use is declining. Taped interviews, where you respond to prompts, either written or in an application, are becoming the norm. They allow recruiters and hiring managers to evaluate you at their leisure.
In either case, people are just becoming truly competent in the use of video for this purpose.
Over 50 years ago, John F. Kennedy handily defeated Richard Nixon in the first televised presidential debates. Kennedy’s team knew that there were certain colors (a blue shirt) that presented well on TV. Nixon’s crew thought that it was just another debate. Kennedy’s team prevailed because they knew how to manage the bias of the medium.
The same principle holds true in the video interview. The more you know how to make the technology work for you, the more of an advantage you’ll have. Video can make you look smart, shiny and competent or it can make you look untrustworthy, dumb and lazy.
Here are some tips for using video interviewing to your advantage. You’ll notice that none of the standard interview prep is covered here. These are tips for being effective when you are in a video interview:
1. Position the camera at the same height as the top of your head
You look better when the camera looks down on you. Looking up gives definition to your chin and that is a visual indicator of strength and character. However you set up your video space, having the camera sit slightly above your hairline, it will help you maintain good posture while giving you the most attractive camera angle.
2. Look directly into the camera
At the same time, you want to be making eye contact with the interviewer. This means looking at the camera and not the screen. There is a narrow range in which you can look up at the camera while making direct eye contact with it. That’s the right place for the camera. Making eye contact with the camera is critical. People read a lack of eye contact as an indicator of un-trustworthiness.
3. If you wear glasses, get an anti-glare coating
If they can’t see your eyes, they can’t trust you. Every reputable eyeglass retailer offers an anti-glare lens coating at a modest charge. Without the coating, your eyes look like circles of light. With the coating, the interviewers get the feeling that they are making a connection with you (because you are looking directly into the camera).
4. Use software to improve your image and performance
These days, most computers (and smart phones) come equipped with a video camera. For some reason, they do not come equipped with software that manages the output of the camera. Tools like iGlasses allow you to crop and control the image that you send out. Instead of settling for the default view, let your head and shoulders be what the interviewer sees. This will make your presentation stronger.
5. Don’t wave your hands around
Hand gestures are great for live presentations and good conversation among friends. On video, they distract from the message you want to convey. Unnecessary movements distract.
6. Watch your posture
Because the interview will be done in some place that you are comfortable, it’s easy to forget that it’s a formal interaction. Slouching, squirming, looking away from the camera (for more than a brief moment), looking bored, yawning and the many other things that you do in private are not useful parts of an interview. When you are in the interview, you have to act like you are in the interviewer’s office, not your bedroom.
7. Use anti shine makeup
Really. Even if you are a guy. People read a shiny face as a sweaty face. They read a sweaty face as a nervous face. Video amplifies any degree of shine you might have on your face. It turns it into a shiny white space that distracts from the real message. Anti-shine makeup is available in professional makeup stores and at department store counters. You want just enough to eliminate the glare. Too much make up is a bad, bad thing.
8. Wear solid colors and stay away from white
Ever since John Kennedy won the debate by wearing a blue shirt, people have been superstitious about wearing white on camera. It can give off the same kinds of glare effects as we’ve been avoiding elsewhere. Most importantly, stay away from patterns. Often, patterns (think about how stripes can bend) cause the optical illusion of movement. You want the interviewer focused on you, not your clothes.
9. Manage the Background
The interviewer isn’t interested in your books or other collectibles. Find a simple background and set your camera up to capture it. The best image is your head and shoulders against simple background (not white). The image shouldn’t show any of the table.
10. Take charge of the experience
It’s your house, your computer, your resume and your job hunt. You’ll be having some video interviews. Be prepared to practice and review your performance while you answer standard interview questions. Invest in better microphones (the embedded mic in your computer sounds tinny). After you’ve practiced a while, practice some more.