How you can crush the video interview

With the popularity of the video interview on the rise, you never know when you might be asked for a close-up. Get prepared with these steps.

How you can crush the video interview

Movie studios and production companies aren’t the only employers that rely on a camera to scope out potential talent. Small and large companies around the world are tapping into the power of video to streamline and personalize their interview processes.

The appeal goes beyond saving money on travel—after all, a telephone call could accomplish that. Video interviews create an opportunity to connect on a more personal level. Both parties enjoy the benefit of eye contact and being able to read each other’s body language. Your appearance and behavior help convey your disposition and level of engagement, which helps inform employers as to whether you’re a good fit for their team.

“Tools like Skype and FaceTime give recruiters and hiring managers the opportunity to virtually be in the same room as a candidate,” says Richard Singer, CPA and senior vice president of permanent placement services for Robert Half, based in New York City. “Though many employers prefer to meet candidates face-to-face before making a final hiring decision, video interviews can expedite the hiring process.”

But what’s convenient for the employer may not be comfortable for the candidate—especially if you’re camera-shy or don’t have a lot of experience with video communication tools. Well, it’s time to get ready for your close-up. Here are some tips to help you crush your next video interview.

Test your equipment

The more comfortable you are with your equipment, the more confident you’ll look and sound during the interview. Don’t wait until the day of your interview to practice using the video program.

Do a test run with a friend to ensure your Internet connection is strong and the quality of your sound and video are high, says Andrew Fennell, a London-based recruiter, careers writer for the Guardian and founder of resume-writing service StandoutCV. If your friend can’t hear you clearly, you may want to invest in a standalone microphone, Fennell says.

A test call with a friend is also a great time to move some lamps around and get the lighting just right. Position the lights in front of you so they’re lighting your face, Muller says. If placed behind you, they’ll light the background and your face will appear dark.

During your test call, practice speaking while looking into the camera—not at your counterpart on the screen. This may feel odd at first, but it will actually mimic normal eye contact to those watching you, making the interaction appear more natural.

Set the right scene

The focus should be on you and you alone, so make sure there are as few distractions as possible. Keep your background neutral and professional. If you’re at home, sit in front of a tidy bookcase, artwork or a potted plant. Clear away dishes, laundry and any other visible clutter.

And while you can’t control everything that goes on around you, minimize the chances of interruptions from children, phones and pets, says Julie Muller, a career coach in Manitoba, Canada. If your home won’t be quiet enough, try reserving a private room at a local library or communal workspace.

Dress to impress

In addition to following the usual rules on how to dress for an interview, be mindful of a few extra guidelines that come with appearing on screen.

Deb Gallegos, videographer and owner of Making a Scene Productions in Prescott, Arizona, recommends sticking with dark, solid colors—though she cautions against wearing either a solid black or white shirt, as these don’t look great on camera. “Don't wear clothing with small checkered patterns, stripes, houndstooth, etc.,” she says, “as it will cause the video to continuously shimmer in odd shapes.”.

Finally, avoid wearing a color that’s the same as your background, Gallegos cautions. You risk blending in with the environment and looking like a floating head.

And with any luck, you’ll be looking at them face-to-face in the next round.

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