With 6 out of 10 recruiters using video to interview job candidates, it is crucial to understand how to make a video interview work to your advantage.
It’s hard enough to ace an interview, but the intervention of a video camera adds a new twist.
In the competitive job market you should consider yourself the actor, director and producer of an event that allows you to create your own storyline.
Well, that statement sounds bit daunting, but to me it says two things:
(1) Be clear what your key messages are, and
(2) Embrace the technology as an way to communicate those messages.
Some other key points are:
Make sure your lighting is clear and flattering. Two lights in front of you and one in back works well.
Don’t get caught off guard: cover the camera lens and turn off the microphone until you’re ready to be seen and heard.
If possible, invest in a better camera and microphone than the ones built in to your computer. (Bailo makes specific recommendations in his book.)
On a more basic note, if you’re using a laptop, make sure the battery has enough charge!
Some of the most crucial body language signals revolve around eye contact. In my previous post, “Skype Interview Technique of the Week,” I passed along the trick of putting a photo of a friend, with a hole punched in it, over the camera hole on your computer. But don’t stare at it the whole time, which would be like maintaining 100% eye contact in a conversation.
So I got to wondering, what is the right amount of time to maintain eye contact?
I found some guidelines on this in an entertaining article at a Toastmasters website, citing noted social psychologist Michael Argyle.
“The amount of eye contact in a typical conversation ranges from 25% to 100%, depending on who’s talking and what culture they’re from. When we talk we maintain 40 to 60% eye contact with an average of 80% eye contact when listening. The notable exception to this rule is Japan and some Asian and South American cultures, where extended eye contact is seen as aggressive or disrespectful.”
Where should you look when not “making eye contact” (looking at the camera)? You might put some key talking points (key words! not whole sentences or paragraphs!) right above or to the side of your computer; you will seem to be looking beyond the other person, as we sometimes do when thinking.
And of course you should occasionally glance at the interviewer’s face on your screen, but too much focus there can look evasive or disinterested.
Are we over-thinking all this? Possibly, but as the Toastmasters article points out, 55% of percentage of the communication in a video interview is via your face, and only 7% is the words you say. (The other 38% is tone of voice.) And even though interviewers may consciously make allowances for the unnatural circumstances, there will be an undeniable gut level reaction to these nonverbal cues.
Concerned about ageism? Realize that positively making the most of the new and technological – instead of visibly struggling with it – will help counteract a key stereotype about older workers. Also, give special attention to lighting and makeup. Attention, guys: even males get made up for photo shoots. Here’s a video of a fairly macho dude submitting to same. At least, borrow some face powder from your girlfriend or wife if you have very shiny skin, and maybe try a tinted lip balm if your lips look colorless on camera.
Don’t expect to be at ease with video interviewing all at once. Take it a little at a time, start well in advance, and prepare to stand out and get the job.