Meeting through the eyes of a laptop camera has become the new norm. During the early months of the pandemic, Zoom’s use jumped from just over 10 million to over 200 million in only three months. Microsoft Teams, Skype, and WebEx all saw remarkable increases in usage during the same time period. As quickly as we have adjusted to working remotely, people have grown comfortable with the video conference format. A few short months ago, it was common for people to disable their camera during a video meeting. Self-conscious and feeling exposed, they participated with just a name on the screen. Being camera shy is no longer common. People are now connecting naturally and communicating without hesitation.
As quickly as video meetings have become the norm, so has video interviewing. The convenience of connecting through a video interview is a cost-effective and efficient strategy commonly used by employers to evaluate a candidate that may be hundreds of miles away. Recruiting budgets are streamlined because airfare and hotels are reserved for only the top candidates or, in some cases, not needed at all. Since video communication is now commonly used and we’re all comfortable with having video meetings, preparing for a video interview shouldn’t be any different, should it?
In-person, face-to-face interactions involves not only listening to what the other person has to say, but it also includes non-verbal communication. Gestures, body language, and other social cues provide information to what is being said. Through video, non-verbal communication is greatly minimized because you only see what is on a small screen. You are missing a lot of valuable information that is conveyed without words.
On video, people are often distracted not by what they say but how they say it. It’s human nature to be drawn in by how you look on the screen. While communicating through video, people watch themselves and feel a greater sense of intense scrutiny in how they look when expressing themselves. The reality is that the other person is not as fixated on you as you think they are.
Preparing for a video interview takes thoughtful preparation to make a connection through a camera that would happen more naturally face-to-face.
Here are just a few tips when preparing for a video interview:
• VIEW: Consider minimizing yourself, so you’re not distracted by how you look while communicating.
• CAMERA LOCATION: Be aware of where the camera is located. It should be at eye-level. Put your computer on a box, if you need to lift it up. Talk to the camera when you are talking and move your eyes to the screen when you are in listening mode.
• PACE: Be aware of the pace at which you’re talking. When the interviewer is taking notes, slow down your speaking pace, and pay attention to any non-verbal cues that indicate a need to adjust the rate at which you are speaking.
• HANDS: We often talk with our hands. Adjust your camera so that you can see your full torso. When the interviewer can see your hands and torso, as opposed to just your neck and head, the person will feel more connected to the message that you’re conveying. We speak through our hands, our posture, and face. Consider how you look when you’re sitting at a board room table and mimic that.
• DRESS: It’s obvious that you will dress the part on the top half, but don’t forget the bottom half. You can skip the high heels or derby shoes, but don’t wear your trendy ripped jeans or Bermuda shorts just in case you need to stand up during the interview. Believe it or not, it can happen!
• Zoom Backgrounds: Creative Zoom backgrounds are fantastic when you have a messy desk, but let’s face it, a background is distracting. The focus is taken off you – which is not what you want. A bare wall behind you is boring, but the interviewer will then focus on YOU. The interview should not wonder why you chose a tropical beach as a background when the position is in Minnesota.
Finally, smile, relax and don’t be afraid to express your enthusiasm for the position. Even through a camera lens, the interviewers will feel the sincerity in your interest in the position.