Video conferencing in apps like Zoom, Webex, and Microsoft Teams are quickly becoming ingrained in every part of the work environment, starting first and foremost at the hiring level.

With video interviews, making a good impression can be more difficult than if you were meeting in person considering there are more external forces that can negatively affect how your interviewer sees you. Is your WiFi spotty so there is a delay in speaking? Does your dog have to go out, so he won’t stop barking? Are your kids in a meeting with their class in the room next to you, so it’s difficult to hear?

Following the steps below will help you set the scene for your interview so you can go into it confident and ready for any obstacles that may get in your way.

Find a Space for Privacy

We love our families and pets, but during an interview, they’re the last thing we want our potential employers to see walking behind us or hearing them in the background. It’s imperative that you prepare to have complete privacy and quiet during your allotted interview time.

When my own kids were younger, if I had to escape onto the front porch or lock myself in a closet while I was on a call, I did it.  It’s easy to explain to your family how important it is for them to stay quiet and out of sight for a while. Unfortunately, their cooperation doesn’t always come to fruition. By planning ahead to make sure that even if they’re unable to stay quiet, they still can’t be seen in the background during your interview. This will allow you to more easily relax, eliminating possible ‘what if’ scenarios.

How’s Your Background?

There’s nothing more distracting on a video call then when someone has a busy background, or you can see a TV flashing in the window behind them. Making sure you have a clean and simple wall to sit in front of during your interview eliminates the possibility of the interviewer’s eyes wandering.

Don’t have any good background options? Most video services allow you to change your background to a generic scene like a tropical beach or a forest. Check in your settings and see if there’s a way for you to make it look like you’ve left your home without actually leaving.

Lighting

It’s so important to adjust your lighting, especially as the sun shifts shadows in your interview space throughout the day. Is your interview in the morning, during a time when the sun floods your dining room, in turn making you appear darker to those on the other side of the call? If that’s the case, it may be best to find another place to sit. Adjust the lamps or your camera in the room you plan to use to, making sure to eliminate glares and shadows. This will ensure that you are the focus of the visual, no matter how the sun moves.

Check out the picture below and see my Do’s and Don’ts.

 
  • Don’t: Sit near a door or a hallway that family members may have to pass through during your allotted interview time. Avoid having any windows or doorways behind you to avoid distracting traffic.
  • Do: Choose a neutral wall that won’t distract from the interview. A single painting or a clock are ordinary enough that they won’t divert attention away from you.
  • Don’t: Touch your face! Keep your hands down in your lap so they’re not distracting to either you or the interviewer.
  • Do: Choose an outfit that is formal enough for an interview, but not distracting enough that it catches the attention of the interviewer more than your answers do.
  • Don’t: Set up your camera in a space where the lighting is bright enough that it distorts your own image, making your interviewer unable to see you properly.
  • Do: Center your camera so your face is in the middle of the screen. You’re the main focal point of the interview, not the wall behind you.
  • Don’t: Drink or eat anything during your allotted time, including mints or gum. Sound carries different through a microphone, especially if you’re wearing headphones. Interviewers don’t want to hear you slurping water or chewing gum.