Technologies like Skype, GoogleHangouts or Facetime are Step One for employers to check you out. In thirty minutes or less, they can decide whether you’re worth the airfare to fly you to their home office for Step Two, the interview in person.
So, how do you increase your chances of impressing via webcam?
Here are five suggestions:
1. Dress professionally: The computer may make you feel like this is a less formal interview, but the employer is using it to screen you in or out. Make it count by making a great first impression.
Look at the camera. You’ll want to make eye contact with the person on your screen, but if you look at their eyes, you won’t be making eye contact.
Look at the lens of the camera, typically located at the top of your monitor.
2. Pay attention to what’s behind you: The employer will look for visual clues about you from the space you’re in. If you’ve got provocative posters on the wall, beer cans on the desk or a mess all around you, you’re communicating in ways that won’t be helpful.
Find a quiet, clean and neutral space for the interview so the employer can focus on you and not your roommate’s pizza boxes. Try not to have a strong light source behind you or your face will be too dark for the employer to see. Put the light in front of you.
3. Cover your tech bases: Test the connection ahead of time, make sure the laptop is plugged in rather than relying on batteries, test the settings in the webcam program so that both video and audio are selected, and figure out what plan B will be if the web connection fails.
You can provide your employer with your cell phone number as a backup. Just make sure the phone is fully charged and able to get service in the place you’re calling from.
4. Do a mock interview with a friend, family member or kind professor ahead of time to get some practice and feedback.
About the Author:
Kathy Bruner is an assistant professor of Film & Media Production at Taylor University in Indiana and also co-chairs the Media Communication Department. Kathy teaches documentary filmmaking, scriptwriting and media performance. She co-coordinates Taylor University’s Hollywood Internship Program.