Camera Shy? Get Ready for a Video Interview

Raise your hand if you have already had a job interview over Skype. An ever-growing number of senior professionals like you are doing their initial interviews with companies via video. Organizations love the convenience and cost-savings of this technology, especially when they are screening candidates internationally. A survey by the business research firm Aberdeen Group showed that investment by companies in video interviewing increased 11 percentage points in just one year. At least one organization has quantified the financial gains – the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) claims that screening applicants via video software saves them 20 percent on recruitment costs.

ready for a video interview

If you think doing a job interview by video link is the same as conducting one in person, you are right…partly. Many of the same rules apply to this and any other type of interview situation: do your research ahead of time on the company and position, prepare strong answers to those tough behavioral interview questions, practice your elevator speech, make eye contact and smile.

There are, however, a few unique differences with video interviews that require you pay attention to special details. And since you never get a second chance at a first interview, you’ll want to follow these guidelines to make sure you’re fully ready for a video interview and get the career you want:

What to Wear

Naturally, you should dress as you would for an in-person interview. One distinction in video interviewing, though, is that some colors and fabric patterns are distracting on camera, so keep this in mind when you select an outfit. Avoid high-contrast stripes, checkered patterns, bold colors (red, orange, yellow), and prints as they can create a 3-D or moiré effect on the screen of the interviewer.

Both men and women should avoid wearing solid black, as it absorbs light and keeps your face from standing out. Soft, solid colors are best, including blues, greens, beige and cream. Women should avoid shiny, large pieces of jewelry since they reflect light.

For men, a gray or dark blue suit, white or light blue shirt, and simple blue or green tie – never red! — show off best. Pay attention to the background on your side of the camera. If you have a dark background, wear neutral pieces in off-white or beige. For mostly white backgrounds, don some understated color.

Light and Background Matters

You’ll need to create the right spot to do your interview by arranging the background and light. Simple, uncluttered backgrounds are best – that is, backdrops without windows, large wall hangings, wall clocks, too much furniture or other distractions.

As for lighting, try following the three-point lighting system that professional videographers use. Shine two lights on you, one on each side (but not in camera view) and aim the third light on your back. This wraps you in light and keeps shadows away. If the three-point option is not available, attempt to find a spot with natural light augmented by artificial light above you. Also, avoid the spotlight affect by keeping your computer screen brightness on low.

Tech Check

Technology becomes your worst enemy when it doesn’t work properly, especially during a video interview. It pays to prepare and practice ahead of time to make your are ready for a video interview. Do the camera and microphone function right? Is your connection speed fast enough? Do you how to display documents if necessary? The camera view should show your upper body, not just your face.

Log in at least 10 minutes before the real interview to test the features before going live. And, importantly, have the interviewer’s phone number and email handy in case you get disconnected during the meeting.

Body Language

How you interact with the interviewer on the screen during a video interview is as important as it is in person. While you can’t offer a firm handshake, you should still make eye contact, smile, nod and lean in to the interviewer to show interest and engagement in the discussion. But it works a little differently on camera, so you should practice this beforehand.

Look into the camera, not at the screen, to maintain eye contact and to keep your face focused forward. Sit up straight and check the camera’s height and distance to make sure it is capturing your upper body straight on and not from an angle. Check the sound level of your voice and keep in mind that there can be a sound delay due to inconsistent connection speeds.

As video interviewing has the same effect as a person-to-person interview, the same follow-up rules apply. Always send a thank-you note or email shortly afterward. If you have followed these guidelines for conducting a video interview, you’ll hopefully have had a successful discussion with the hiring manager, free of distractions.

Like all things in life, practice makes perfect. The more you do video interviews – and all signs indicate that they will soon become a norm — the more you’ll be able to be your natural, talented self in front of the camera and the more you’ll be likely to get the career you want.

About the author:

Kate RodriguezKate Rodriguez is a freelance marketing copywriter based in Munich. She has over 20 years of professional experience in public and private organizations. A former international trade analyst for the U.S. government, she also worked as a university career coach, specializing in international career search. Most recently, she was employed at Experteer as a customer service agent and online marketing manager.

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