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How to Ace a Video Interview

With more and more recruiters conducting interviews remotely, it is crucial to understand that video interviews bring a unique set of challenges.

It’s nothing you can’t handle–just follow these tips.

Embrace the technology.

Make sure your lighting is adequate. A candidate sitting in gloomy darkness looks neither approachable nor professional. Good light also makes you look more attractive, which never hurts. Natural light is flattering, so facing a window works well. An inexpensive ring light (also known as a selfie light) clipped onto your monitor can be a big help, too. Avoid overhead light that casts deep shadows on your face. Light coming from multiple angles tends to work well.

Make sure the camera is at eye level so the interviewer’s view will be eye-to-eye. Nobody wants to look up anybody’s nose. If you’re using a laptop, this means raising it somehow. Beware of putting it atop a teetering tower of books!

The microphone that’s built into your computer may be good enough, but sometimes these pick up too much echo or background noise. A Lavalier mic is better. The webcam in your computer is probably all you need, but if you want to invest in something more high-end, the Logitech c922 webcam is highly recommended by video experts.

If you’re on a laptop, make sure the battery has enough charge.

Don’t get caught off guard. Cover the camera lens and turn off the microphone until you’re ready to be seen and heard.

Use good body language.

Some of the most crucial body language signals revolve around eye contact. In a video interview, if you look at the image of the person you’re talking to, they’ll see you looking downward, not into their eyes. Instead, look into the camera. To remind yourself to do this, get a photo of a friend (or at least a sticky note with a face drawn on it), punch a hole in it, and place that over the camera hole on your computer.

Don’t stare at the camera the whole time, though. That would be like maintaining 100% eye contact in a conversation, which is not normal. What is? According to 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.”

Do glance at the interviewer’s face occasionally, of course, to check on how they’re reacting to you and for purposes of mirroring.

If you gesture when you talk, be careful not to bump into the desk. The noise and vibration that creates can be distracting or even startling to the interviewer.

Use notes, but don’t look down at them.

Looking down at the desk tends to cut off the feeling of connection with the interviewer. Instead, put your notes above or to the side of your computer screen, perhaps on large sticky notes. Keep your notes minimal. That way you only need a quick glance to remind yourself of a talking point or a key fact.

Dress for video.

Of course, wear smart interview attire, but there are a few more caveats. Experts disagree about some aspects of dressing for video, but most agree you should avoid a white shirt unless it’s mostly covered up by a jacket or sweater, avoid black and extremely bright colors, and avoid print fabrics because they can seem to shimmer strangely as you move. Watch our for heavy jewelry that can clunk against the desk or your microphone.

Are we over-thinking all this? Don’t interviewers make allowances for the unnatural circumstances? They might, but they’re still going to have a gut level reaction to your appearance, the sounds they hear, your nonverbal cues and so on. Do everything you can to make them, and yourself,  comfortable.

Use makeup, even if you don’t normally wear it (even you, gentlemen).

The aim is not necessarily to look made up, but to look healthy. So men, consider a little moisturizer if your skin looks dried-out and lifeless, and a natural-looking tinted lip balm if you have pale or colorless lips.

The same advice goes for women who prefer not to look made up. You still need to exude vitality.

Do you think a woman with lipstick on looks more professional? I tend to think so, although I’ve seen women who can rock a business suit without it.

And everyone, please: You know the old expression, “Don’t let ’em see you sweat”? Even if you’re not sweating, a little face powder on those shiny spots gives a “cool, calm and collected” look.

To ace your video interview, practice in advance.

Whatever platform is being used for the interview, do a practice run ahead of time. Don’t just guess how you’ll look onscreen, and don’t assume you’ll be able to instantly figure out how to use the platform, or even that it will work as it’s supposed to. Try it out

Of course, you still have to do all the usual things you would do to prepare for an excellent interview in any format. But a virtual/remote interview does have special challenges. Prepare well to ace your video interview!

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