How To Conduct A Video Interview
Times they have a’changed. It is perfectly acceptable to interview a candidate from M.I.T. via Google Hangout or Skype while sitting in your office in Denver. Technology bridges the physical distance and you can now interview top candidates regardless of where they call home at no extra cost to you. Awesome right? But while you sit there in the comforts of your office or conference room, it’s important to remember one thing: the candidates are also interviewing you. And if you don’t know how to setup your video call so that it doesn’t look like you are in the witness protection program, well then you aren’t really going to be selling yourself very well. Here’s a quick list of tips and tricks on how to conduct a video interview so you come out looking like a boss.
Shut it Down
Running Mail in the background? Twitter? Facebook? Close everything including those extra tabs on your browser. The only thing that should be open is the app you are using to conduct the interview. Pop ups and notifications about your pals most recent posts to whatever social channel will distract you and can throw off your game. It goes without saying, but turn your phone off too.
Do not sit with your back to any windows or lights. Backlighting will basically create a blacked out screen with your body outline. Unless you are hiding from the mafia this probably isn’t acceptable. Lights should be at least overhead and better yet in front of you so that your face is highlighted. If you have natural light, face it with your camera in front.
Do not use your laptop on your lap. Nobody wants to look up your nose or get vertigo as the camera jostles while your nervous legs shake. Also? No one wants to look up your nose. Put the laptop on a flat surface, preferably a desk, and use your arm length as the distance between you and the screen. Extra points? Raise your laptop using books or whatever you can find so that the screen is more at eye-level.
Two People, 1 Screen
It’s possible you are conducting a group interview where everyone from your team is in the same room, then what? Should you pass the laptop back and forth depending on who is asking the question? Definitely not. This can make the person on the other end dizzy not to mention rattled. Set up the screen ahead of time so that everyone is in the picture. You don’t need to be close up – you just need to have your face on the screen. You’ve seen the clip from The Internship? Yeah… Don’t do that.
Use your headset. Rooms echo and that’s annoying. For the least amount of disruptions and best quality of sound use your regular headset.
So yeah, you are not going to physically meet the candidate but they can still see you. So while this post basically assumes that you are doing the interview remotely, pretend that it isn’t. Do all the same preparation you would for a face-to-face meeting. While the technology has arrived, the face masks from the Jetsons haven’t yet so you still need to put on your face and dress up even if they might never see your pants.
Stop Looking At Yourself
If the app you are using shows a little window of what you look like on camera, consider taking a couple of post-its and covering that up. The point of the video is to replace a face-to-face meeting, there’s nothing less engaging than feeling like the person on the other end of meeting is constantly checking themselves out and playing with their hair. Along this same point, position the window of the app you are using to the center of the screen. Assuming you have closed all the other tabs and this is the only thing open (see the ‘Shut It Down’ above), you can concentrate on looking the other person in the eye and it will feel like a better human connection.
Final tip: always do a dry run. It can never hurt.