By John G. Self, Career Advisor & Executive Coach

Keep your eyes on the ball is spot-on advice baseball coaches frequently share with their players. It is something you learned at an early age, and this phrase is an important part of every coach’s instruction.  

In the world of video job interviews, my advice is to keep your eyes on the green light. The one at the top of your computer’s screen.

Whether we like it or not, video job interviews are here to stay.  To be an effective, competitive candidate you must  master the skills of this form of television.  This is a subject I have written on in the past.  It is an important part of my course on interviewing skills.  (I will be presenting this material in Chicago at the American College of Healthcare Executives Congress in March.) Appearance, camera frame, backlighting, ceiling fans and water spots on your ceiling are directorial suggestions of things to avoid that I have mentioned at one time or another in this space.  

The reason I return to this subject yet again is to raise a warning, that a poor performance atmospherically can get you eliminated from consideration.  Simple as that.  Let me explain:

In a recent career coaching session, a simulated interview,  an exceptionally bright and capable executive who is preparing himself to go after a better position in a neighboring community, kept referring to his notes that were on the left and right side of his monitor, nicely out of sight.  The problem was  that he was screwing up some great answers because every time he would look at his notes it looked as though he was distracted and bored.  Not a recommended effect, I can assure you.  I stopped him and asked him to just focus on the green light at the top of the monitor.   Two hours later, after reviewing the video of the coaching session, he called me back, “Oh my god, I cannot believe the difference.  When I saw how I looked when I looked over  at my notes, I was embarrassed.  I looked like I didn’t care about doing a good job.  I know I have done the exact same thing in other video interviews that actually counted as part of the job search. No one wonder I did not get a call back.”

As I have said before, like it or not video interviews are here to stay in the job search process.  If anything, they will become an even more important as time goes by so now is the time to master this medium.  Your content is important but the visual atmospherics will kill you.  

Keep your eye on the green light.