You’ve landed the interview of your dreams. It’s for a remote job that pays more than you ever thought you could make working part-time (or maybe it’s for that international gig you’ve been daydreaming of). In short, you are over the moon!
If you do nothing else to prepare for a video chat, do this one thing: use headphones. An echo ruins a video chat, fast. And lags in connection and internet blips can easily create an echo, delay, or other sound disruption that can be lessened with headphones. People will forgive your video quality, but they won’t forgive your sound. If the person on the other end can’t understand what you are saying, you’re in trouble!
So, dig up those headphones that came with your first iPhone, or buy a pair of cheap headphones with a mic. (For example, Skullcandy makes a pair for $20.) Your sound will be crisper, the risk of echo will be reduced drastically, and those sirens and dogs barking in the background won’t get in the way of the great impression you’re making on screen!
Two common (and free!) platforms to use are Google Hangout and Skype. There is a quick plugin for Google Hangout that requires a browser restart (download here), and an easy application download for Skype (find your version here). There are hundreds of other video platforms that you could use, such as Cisco WebEx and GoToMeeting, so setting aside 15 minutes before your interview to make sure you have the right tech downloaded will ensure you are prepared!
Being on a video chat requires solid, fast internet speed. Starbucks Free WiFi just isn’t gunna cut it. Test the internet speed at the location where you are going to be joining the video interview by running a free test at speedtest.net. Google recommends an upload and download speed of at least 4 Mbps for a solid video connection.
Also, wireless internet signal can fade in and out. If you have an ethernet cable handy (they usually come free with your internet router or you can purchase one on Amazon for less than $10), plug it in to ensure you have a steady connection.
Do a quick check of your sound settings to make sure everything is set correctly. Every video chat system has slightly different settings, but most will default to “built-in audio,” which means the speakers and microphone on your computer. If you are using headphones and there is an option to set to your headphone audio (and microphone) instead, click it!
Actively think about setting up what is behind you in the shot for your video interview. As executive recruiter Jennifer Johnson shared, being in a big room and having too much depth behind you can be distracting. It’s best to position yourself a few feet from a wall, and have one or two tasteful decor components in the background. For example, a painting, a plant, or an organized bookshelf. Imagine meeting with the CEO of a huge company, and think about what how their desk is positioned: try to create the same setup for yourself. A white wall absolutely works, but if you have the time to “design” your set, it can certainly boost the impression you make!
Natural lighting is best, so face towards a window if you can. If you are in a darker room, or you are getting on video chat in the evening, find a lamp that you can plugin and place about a foot in front of your laptop to give you some good lighting. (Just relying on the lighting from your laptop might give an eerily creepy glow.) If you have the time, take the extra step and take away, turn down, or turn off the lights behind you, as well. Read more…