“TV is the thing this year. Radio is great but it is outta of date. TV is the thing this year.”
A song written in 1953 by jazz musician Bill Sanford and orchestra leader Phil Medley who also co-wrote “Twist and Shout”
TV/Video is indeed the thing this year. For job interviews.
Job applicants who do not pay attention, who do not take this medium seriously, could limit their prospects. Recruiters across the country, especially in this time of limited travel and social distancing, say they are relying more and more on this medium to conduct critical screening interviews.
Executives who do not master the dos and don’ts of the video interview will hurt their chances of landing the job. Yet many do not seem to understand the importance of looking their best in the video screening interview. Employers are interested in what you say, but they also very keen on how you look – how well you present. Bad lighting, bad camera angles or poor sound can all add up to an unfortunate conclusion: you don’t get it, you are not up to date with technology.
Not only is TV/Video playing an increasingly important function in recruiting, but organizations now see the power of video to enhance communications with their workforce and customers. If you do not look good on video/TV, or if you look uncomfortable, this could, and probably will, hurt your chances.
A few recruiters provide their applicants with a “Tip Sheet” to help them prepare for the video session. Applicants would be well advised to follow those suggestions without fail. However, most employers and recruiters do not provide this type of information so here are the key 5 takeaways from what we teach our clients for video interviews:
- The camera must be at eye level. Most executives now rely on a laptop. While some of the newer laptops have cameras that are right above the keyboard (questionable design), most are at the top of the screen. The vast majority of people set their computer on a desk and then tilt the screen to capture their face. This is a cardinal sin. First, this is the least flattering video angle imaginable. Moreover, recruiters do not want to see the water spots on your ceiling, watch your fan spin or look up your nose. Think about it…
The fix: Place your laptop on a stack of books. Be sure it is stable and will not fall during the interview. Sit up straight. If you are using an office chair, do NOT lean back or rock side to side or back and forth. Sit forward in the chair.
- Do Not Sit In Front of a Window or a Bright Lamp. This will provide what is known as backlighting. If the back light is bright enough, the recruiter will not be able to see your facial features.
- The Background Is Important. This is the video equivalent of being self- aware. Do not sit in front of open closet doors, make-shift clothes lines, or cluttered shelves or counters. A plain background or in front of a nice piece of artwork is fine but you do not want any distractions. In my 25 plus years of working with video interviews, I have seen some laugh-out-loud major faux pas.
The Fix: Prepare in advance. Set up your computer in advance so that you can check the background and lighting. If you are relying on a wireless connection, test that as well. Recruiters will understand internet failures or power outages, but your failure to prepare in advance is a serious sin.
- Arrange for appropriate lighting. Bad lighting can you make you look terrible on camera. You want the lighting to highlight your face evenly. You should avoid “hot spots” where you can actually see light beam on your face. Bright glares can produce negative results and impressions.
The Fix: Buy a couple of inexpensive desk lamps. There are also lights made specifically for video conferencing. They use bulbs that soften the glare. One model also includes a holder for your cell phone in case that will be your “computer” for the interview. It retails for less than $50.
- Do Not Wait Until the Last Minute to Connect: The law of unintended consequences applies. Put another way, stuff happens when you can least afford it. Waiting until the last minute to discover that your camera is not working or that your computer’s audio settings are messed up, is a major no-no. It speaks to your inability to pay attention to the details.
The Fix: Test your video and audio connection. If you are using SKYPE, check to ensure that you have the latest version of the program on your computer. Note: SKYPE is now owned by Microsoft which has built a reputation around constantly updating software to correct programming flaws and security defects. If your audio is not good, consider buying an inexpensive headset or use your cell phone ear buds.