So you’ve finally gotten your cover letter and resume through to the people that matter! Congrats…that was the easy part. Now, it’s time for the interview process. In today’s media landscape, that means you may be fighting for jobs all across the continent. Traveling 2000km for an interview might not be in the budget, but now, just as Back to the Future II predicted, video calling has become something of an industry standard. In order to land that job that might be the stepping stone in your career, you may be tasked with doing something you’ve never done before…be interviewed via Skype.
Not only are video job interviews happening more and more, these days, reporters and experts are videoing into shows on a regular basis. CNN, CBC, HuffPost and even Hockey Night in Canada is employing Facetime or Skype into their shows routinely. In the past, reporter would be on site and call in the news from a landline or pay phone. During the JFK assassination, UPI reporter Merriman Smith was in the front seat, next to the motorcade’s “wire car” which was equipped with a radio telephone, a position that would prove crucial to his breaking the biggest story of the 20th century. Today, people can video in from their computer or cell phone from almost anywhere in the world. We’ve come a long way from the grainy, almost un-watchable satellite video phones used to report on the Iraq War back in 2003 to video calling that is near high definition.
So, if you are video calling in for an interview or using this technology as part of your everyday workflow, here are 5 things to consider.
1. Look the Part
In the old days, you could hope out of bed, splash some cold water on your face and pick up the phone and call in your report to a news station or chat with a prospective employer. Now, you are seen. You need to look the part, meaning your appearance should be the same as if you were on-camera in the studio or at the office in front of a requiter. Hair and make-up should be presentable and your wardrobe should be professional for the environment or dress code of the people you are talking to, not the environment you are currently sitting in.
2. Consider Your Surroundings
Be aware of what is around you when you turn on your camera. Figuring out what should go behind you is almost as important as what you are wearing or how you look. If you are going for a job interview or are being interviewed as an expert on a topic…maybe do it where people can see your diploma hanging on the wall. Blank walls can be a bit too boring but a bookcase with a lot of clutter, family pictures or knick knacks could prove distracting. Try and have your surroundings being as clean and presentable as possible. No one wants to see your messy bed or dishes in the sink. Also, make sure there is nothing in the background such as a picture or a plant that makes it look like you are sprouting leaves or have a new set of horns growing out the side of your head.
3. Use Angles to your Advantage
We all have those friends who post a million selfies on social media and I bet not one of those photos was taken from a low angle, was it? No. You don’t want to be looking down. Gravity is not your friend. A double chin, extra wrinkles or bags under your eyes will appear and that’s not how you want to present yourself. Prop up your computer or phone so that it is eye level or higher. You want to present the best version of yourself…not one that’s only running on 2 hours sleep.
4. The Distraction Factor
Do you have kids or pets? Maybe a noisy roommate or an air conditioner that sounds like it’s about to explode? Make sure you are in a quiet area without any audio or visual distractions. Close the door to the room you are in. Keep anything that could derail the interview outside of your space. This is your time to shine. Turn off the AC and any TV or radios you have had on. By doing this, it will help you and your interviewer stay on point and keep any distractions to a minimum. The last thing you want is your kid screaming in the background or a cat jumping on your head.
5. Test Your Setup
If you know you are going to be doing a video interview, make sure you know how it’s going to look more than 5 minutes before you are supposed to connect. What’s your Skype log in or Apple ID details? Do you know how your lighting is going to be? The last thing you want is a massive shadow falling across your face after making the interviewer wait while you reset your Apple password for the 5th time. My advice would be to have a friend help you make a practice call. Position yourself in the space you want to do the interview from, dress how you want to dress and ask your friend to evaluate how everything looks and sounds. Make any nessesary adjustments for the real thing. Make sure you are looking into the camera and not at yourself in the little window at the bottom of the screen…as tempting as that may be, you want to try and make eye contact with your interviewer the best you can.
A few other things to consider as well: Your username. Try and keep it professional. Just like that email address you created in the 6th grade, maybe it’s time to update your skype ID if it’s something silly. Timezones. Make sure you have your timezones all worked out with the people you are calling ahead of time. If they say they will call at 11am but are based out of Vancouver and you live in Toronto, confirm if that’s Pacific or Eastern Time. Connection. If you can’t be hard wired into your router, get a close to it as possible. You want to maximize your connection to avoid any freezing or drop outs. We these tips in mind, I hope you nail your next video interview. Let me know on Twitter @tshold if these tips have helped or any suggestions you may have to add.
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