Dear Career Tips: Interviewing on Camera is Tricky
From Career Tips, 2020 Volume 8, August 2020
Being on camera adds a new dimension to the interviewing process. For some of us, this can be a tricky minefield to navigate.
A recent interview with a recruiter through Zoom did not go well. Maintaining eye contact was the most challenging feedback item. Also, the Recruiter opted for a computer audio voice which I dutifully followed. My preferred audio selection is the phone. The conversation quickly turned from friendly and smiling to interview glum!
Any tips for overcoming these issues, especially effective eye contact and developing a Zoom-friendly impression?
Get an external webcam - they aren't expensive - with a good built-in mike. Always use that instead of the computer audio voice. Try it out with different people before you get to an interview, to make sure you have good quality on both the voice and the video.
I generally use an external monitor plugged into my laptop, which lets me have the webcam on top of the external monitor and a bit higher. The ideal is to have the camera looking slightly down on you, or at eye level. You never want it looking up at you.
Phone is fine if you aren't on video, but if you are on video, you don't want to be holding a phone, using a speakerphone, or using earbuds or a headset.
Take your Zoom (or whatever tool they use) session out of full-screen mode, and pull it up on the screen so that it's closer to your camera, which will make it easier to look at the interviewer's screen and still appear to be making eye contact. Again, practice this with a friend, and find out where you need the picture to be for you to be able to look at the other person and be perceived as making eye contact.
Make sure your dress, hair, and background are professional and uncluttered. Get good lighting going. Turn off anything that might create a distraction (cell phones, etc.) or interfere with your internet connection bandwidth (email, internet). And make sure you have a really good internet connection.
Test everything beforehand - get on some 1-on-1 calls with friends and have them give you their honest feedback on what you can do to improve your video presence.