International contractors are getting used to video interviews as a way to sell themselves to prospective clients who like the chance to see their candidate without traveling. The number of recruiters using video is also on the rise, with over 50% relying on it frequently according to one survey.
For a contractor, it only takes one video interview to land a great project or contract. But even if you have done many video calls there are always ways to improve on the set-up and delivery, especially if you are used to running down to local café to make the call on their wifi during a coffee break. (not really recommended)
Here are six basic tips to ace your next video interview:
1. Be Prepared
Don’t just ‘go for it’. This is a live commercial, so leave nothing to chance.
Preparation takes many forms, and even if you know what you want to say, think about the interview as a live commercial that you only get once chance to film. One thing I always do is to have a back-up internet connection in case my ISP provider decides to crash a server at the exact moment of my interview (I just wonder, how do they know…?).
Check your computer equipment and have a full battery charge to avoid your own embarrassing brown-out during the interview. You may not get a second opportunity. Anticipate the worst, plan a solution, and then you can relax and deliver your message.
2. Lights and Sound
Be your own technical director and stage the lights and sound.
Go ahead and experiment with different lighting combinations, both in front and behind to find the most flattering positions (especially if you are brave enough to use an HD camera). You want to look good and sound clear, so be sure to have a practice run so you can see how you will appear.
You might have to reposition your computer and cam so that you are not looking down at the person (which is the standard placement for working on a laptop, but not a good angle for video).
3. Speaking Rhythm and Transmission Delays
Wait for them to finish, pause….then speak.
At times the internet connection or video platform wont perform perfectly, so try to account for delays in transmission. You want to make a good impression, but in your excitement could ‘talk over’ the interviewer’s response or question. My tactic is to speak in one continual sentence to make my point without pausing, and then stop for 5 seconds to wait for transmission. The advantage of video is the visual clues that the interviewer is ready for you to speak again.
With very slow connections you may hear an echo of your own voice, so if you cant concentrate ask to call them back to reset the platform.
4. Background Set-up
Its best if you don’t have your open closet door or dirty kitchen as the background…
The only thing more distracting than transmission delays is a background that is too busy or cluttered. This works both ways actually, and I remember an interview with a prospective client who was in their living room. I had a hard time not checking out the furniture and décor for clues about his taste and color preferences.
Have a solid background like a blank wall so that the interviewer has to focus on you. You can hang a piece of cloth if you have to, since you are in control of the background set-up and can manage the entire stage for the call.
Dress like the person they want to hire.
Its great to be a remote contractor and never have to shower or dress up for work, but the video interview requires a bit more effort. Look like you are ready to start working right away (or have already put in a few hours with other clients).
Avoid really bright colors like red since they can be distracting on video, but anything that does not blend in too much with the background should be fine.
6. Look at the Camera, Not the Screen
Oh my gosh, is that how I really look??
If you have not used a cam much for video calls, you really need to record yourself on your computer and play it back. This way, you wont be shocked and distracted at your on screen appearance (some people are actually surprised at how good they look).
The best effect is to look at the camera (that thing with the green light) and not your own face on the screen.
No video interview is perfect, but following these tips will put you in control of the setting and atmosphere so you make the best impression possible.