Tips for digital interviews
Digital interviews are becoming increasingly common and many times will be the first chance you have to make a first impression. Whether you are interviewing for a position, a potential client or new account, or a colleague, you want to make certain that you are putting your best self out there.
Good lighting is probably the #1 trick to better quality video. You want lots of light, and you want lots of light shining onto your face – coming from behind the camera and not from behind you.
- Natural light is the best: Sit by a window, facing the window, so that the light illuminates your face. Don’t sit with your back to a window, you will become a silhouette.
- Indoor lights: If you are indoors and have a floor or desk lamp, place it behind the camera shining on your face; if you just have overhead lights, turn on all the lights you can.
- If you have multiple lights: Place one light on the left (at 45 degrees) and one light on the right (at 45 degrees) so that they illuminate both sides of your face.
- More light = better video quality. Low light = grainy video.
Speed Speed Speed. You want the fastest and most consistent internet connection you can get.
- Whenever you can, connect to the internet with an Ethernet cable – this is much faster and more consistent than a WiFi connection.
- If you can’t use an Ethernet cable, get as close to your WiFi as possible… the more bars you have for your WiFi signal, the better the quality of video you will get.
- If you have a MiFi or smartphone with a Personal Hotspot, run an internet connection speed test to see if your mobile hotspot connection is faster than the connection supporting the closest WiFi
CPU & Memory
Video calls require a lot of CPU cycles and memory. A key tip is to shut down as many of your open applications as you can to free up CPU and memory for Skype.
- Close applications that frequently check for updates, such as instant messaging (e.g. Sametime), email, social dashboards.
- Close your web browser, if you can.
- Close any graphics, photo, or video applications, if you can.
- If you know how, purge your memory to refresh your system and free up unused RAM.
- If you are using a smartphone or tablet (with Skype app), shut down other open apps to reduce the multitasking demands on your device.
A key to good video, is good audio. Webcam and video camera microphones tend to pick up ambient noise – the sounds of your environment.
- Move to a quiet location: Sit where there are no barking dogs, car traffic, passing trains, construction sounds, cube mates talking, etc.
- Headphones/Mic: If you have to do a video call in a setting that has some background noise, use a headphone/mic (e.g. the white iPhone ear buds w/mic) or Bluetooth wireless mic. A mic on your body, will capture more of you talking and less of the surrounding noise.
- If you don’t have a headset that works with your laptop, see bonus tip below on using smartphone or tablet.
Be mindful of your background. The background creates a sense of environment, of context.
- Make sure it’s appropriate and ‘professional’.
- Clean up or move clutter or distracting objects if needed.
- Adjust the camera angle to move something unwanted out of frame.
- Try to sit where the background has a relatively even color or brightness.
- Few things are more distracting from the real subject (you) than clutter in the background. Avoid things like bookshelves or walls with paintings or posters. Instead, use a clean, bright wall or other non distracting background, such as a sheet hung over that distracting bookshelf.
Put the Camera at Eye Level
- If you are using a laptop or tablet, you’ve probably got the device on a table or desk, looking up at you. If you are using a webcam, it is probably on top of your monitor, looking down at you. Neither setup provides a flattering angle: Nobody wants to see the contents of your nose or the bald spot on top of your head. Instead, move the camera so it is at eye level. That’s a much more flattering angle, and creates a more personal feel.
Add More Light
- Most webcams are very small and don’t capture much light. You can easily improve the quality of the video by adding more light. You can get small LED video lights for under $30 and mount them on inexpensive tripods for about $5 apiece. Or you can simply use a couple of desk lights, but make sure they have the same type of bulb to avoid an off-putting color clash — say, bluish light from one and yellowish light from another. Put your lights a couple of feet on either side of the monitor or tablet, slightly angled so they aren’t directly in your line of sight, and you’ll look much better. If you can’t make that happen, try sitting by a window to use the natural light.
Use a Headset, not Speakers
- The image is only half of the story: Audio is the other half. The microphone built into your tablet, laptop or USB webcam is probably pretty bad, especially when it gets drowned out by the speakers next to it that you are using to listen to the other person. Instead, use a USB headset with a microphone to get better sound from both ends of the conversation. You can buy a USB headset, such as the Plantronics 478, for about $40.
- If you don’t have a headset, try using the wired headset from your cellphone, as a surprising number of tablets and laptops (but not desktops) are compatible with them. If you have only headphones without a mic, you can still use them, after running the cable discretely around your back. Speak as loudly and clearly as possible into the microphone on the device you are using to make the call. At least that way you aren’t getting noise from the speakers in the mic.
Test It First
- Before you make an important call, do a trial run with a friend on Skype to make sure that everything is working properly. You can test your audio yourself by calling a service named Skype Test Call, which records and plays back your audio. Skype does not offer a similar service for video, unfortunately, but it is worth calling a friend just to make sure everything looks good.
If you want a complete list of the best cameras for digital video calls, how to dress for an interview, tips for appearance, warnings on what not to do or wear, and more contact Attrinti today!