1. Be familiar with the technology
Make sure you are up to speed with the technology that you will be calling through and get comfortable with it before your interview – not the moment you are supposed to be calling in. Do a test run – technology can be tricky and you never know when your build-in microphone is going to have a bad day, or your wifi decides to take a break. Make sure you have taken steps to smooth out the process so you appear as professional as possible.
2. First impression
It is just as important on video as it is in person. Approach your video like a movie director. Lights, camera, action.
Lights: Your whole face should be visible and bright without shadows. Use two lamps, one on either side of the camera – that should do the trick! If the lamps are too sharp or harsh, soften it with a scarf or paper towel.
Camera: choose a neutral background that doesn’t disturb the eye, and remove any clutter from the frame. A blank wall or door is your best shot. The angle of the camera is also important – make sure you are neither looking up or down at the person you are talking to.
Action: you may think that the importance of body language decreases when you are on video. But it doesn’t. Even if they can’t see that you’re wearing sweatpants, you will know. Treat the interview as professionally as you would a face-to-face interview.
Be aware that 55% of communication through video is conveyed through your facial expression – so make sure you look relaxed and enthusiastic. And most important of all, make eye contact. Eye contact, on a computer? Yes. You need to look at the camera and not at the images on your computer screen. To remind yourself, you could put a colourful post it note next to your camera, and draw an arrow with a message that says ‘look here’. Now remember: there’s a fine line between good eye contact and the serial killer stare. Webcam eye contact can feel a bit awkward at first and a lot of people respond by over-compensating.
Here are some other tips to a positive body language
- Head nodding: shows patience and understanding
- Genuine smile: shows positivity and warmth
- Leaning forward: shows interest, concern and understanding
4. Take your time
Even though you have done a test run and your connection is perfect, it might not be on the other end of the interview. Therefore, make sure you speak slow and clearly – not only to ensure that the microphone picks up all you say, but to accommodate the possibilities of a transmission delay. Pace yourself and use a slower rhythm whenever there’s internet involved. Use a visual nod to confirm that you heard the question, and then wait 3 seconds to reply the question.
5. Don’t fidget
We all have some little nervous tics or twitches – it’s normal. But in this kind of interview, it is important to make an effort to avoid doing it. Not only do you risk revealing your anxiety but you also risk muffling the audio – a microphone records close sounds more clearly.
6. Be careful with screen sharing.
In this industry, it is not uncommon that the hiring manager asks you to share your screen with them, so you can walk them through your CAD designs or coding. To be prepared for this request, make sure you have all your internet browsers closed, so you don’t accidentally show them that you have just googled the last question they asked you. And make sure you are logged out of any chat on social media, so notifications don’t interrupt your interview.
7. Avoid too much body motion
This may create blurry or jumpy images at the receiving end. Make sure you are sitting in a comfortable position so you won’t need to shift around. A nice neutral stance in your chair, with both feet on the ground, should be fine.