So much has changed since Covid happened 3 years ago (gosh, it’s already been 3 years!). It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that virtually every aspect of our lives has been affected – I don’t have to go through the details here but one thing about work that is completely different now is the frequency of “virtual meetings”.
Whether it be work-from-home to client meetings to interviews, virtual meetings from home have become the default mode for most of us (even now). And regardless of how covid progresses from here, online meetings are here to stay, and we are going to do more and more online meetings & interviews going forward – which means it is increasingly imperative to master how to look great and engaging on video so that you can always make a positive impression.
So here are the top 10 super practical tips that will help you look awesome in your next VC interview (or any other meeting, for that matter).
1. Quiet Location
There are few things more frustrating than being in an online meeting where you cannot hear the other person due to background noise.
Make sure that you choose a location that is quiet and that you can control – avoid public places like a coffeeshop. instead, choose locations such as your home or a meeting room that you have reserved so that you won’t get kicked out.
If there are other people in the house, it may be a good idea to lock the door, too, so that no one (especially kids) will not come in during the interview unexpectedly.
2. Sound/Voice Quality
Talking about background noise, the quality of your own voice and sound is just as important.
I have a newsflash. The built in mic in your laptop is really not a good mic. at best, it will produce low-quality sound, and at worst, the other person will have a hard time hearing what you’re saying.
Ideally, you want to invest in a decent desktop mic or a lapel mic like this one which will noticeably improve your voice sound quality.
3. Phone vs Laptop
Should you use your phone or laptop for a VC interview?
There was a period of time pre-covid when using a phone for a VC interview was considered less serious or professional, but times have changed. these days both a phone or laptop/pc are both acceptable (and have their own pros and cons).
First, most cameras on your phone are vastly superior to your laptop or pc camera so you will get a better picture quality using a phone.
Also the default mic on your phone is usually much better than the mic on your laptop. so if you use your phone, you may not need to use an external mic
The biggest disadvantage with a phone, of course, is the small screen size. This is especially a problem if you need to share a screen or if you need to reference a document/PowerPoint during the interview. Chances are you won’t be able to see anything. In these situations, make sure you use a bigger screen like a laptop/pc or a tablet.
4. Background & Setting
Choose a clean, simple background. You’d be surprised at how often people don’t think about this. Make sure your background is clean and tidy and that there is nothing distracting or inappropriate. All of this affects your first impression.
The setting is just as crucial. For example, do not attend your interview in your bedroom, sitting on your bed, or something – this will only make you come across as not serious or unprofessional.
The best setting is at your desk or workstation, in a professional environment where you do your work at home.
Just because you’re having an interview at home, it doesn’t mean you can wear home clothes. Choose the same attire that you would have picked if it was an in-person interview at the employer’s office.
This is something that trips up many people.
Lighting is super important when it comes to an online interview because it directly affects how you look which is intimately tied to your first impression.
Lighting is actually quite a complex topic but for the purpose of this video, you just need to remember two things.
- make sure that you are in a well-lit location.
- that the light source is in front of you, and the light shining on your face.
If you do these two things, most likely, your face will look bright and clear, which will also make you look more engaging and confident.
What you do NOT want is placing the light source behind you and the light shooting against the camera. This will make your face look dark and hard to see clearly.
The most common mistake I see people make is to hold your phone low and point it upward toward your face. And the ceiling light is behind you. At the very least, move your position so that the ceiling light is in front of your face (not behind you).
The ideal lighting option is sitting in front of a window and facing the window in daylight. But of course, that’s not always possible. Another option (which I recommend) is to invest in a small tabletop light (which is quite cheap these days) that you can place in front of you to make sure that you have adequate lighting every time.
7. Eye contact
We all know that eye contact is important in an interview. It matters in an online interview, too (even though many ppl miss it).
Most people look at their screen which is understandable. But if you do this, that means you are not making eye contact! You need to look at the camera lens if you want to make eye contact.
Even if it may be subtle, the difference between making eye contact or not can be huge (even if subconsciously).
Remember, it’s not what you say that the interviewers will remember the most; it’s how you make them feel. And because most people do not do this, when you start intentionally looking at the lens, you can stand out that much more.
Of course, you won’t be able to look only at the lens the whole time. You do need to look at the facial expressions and body language of the interviewer too. Just be mindful about looking at the camera often, even if it feels a bit awkward or uncomfortable. A good tip is to stick a little note saying “LOOK HERE!” next to the lens to remind yourself
Talking about eye contact, another important factor is placing your camera lens at eye level (or slightly higher). This will give you your most natural & photogenic angle.
Many people simply place their phone or laptop on the desk, causing the camera to look up at you. An angle looking up usually does not produce the most flattering picture. Nor do you want the camera to be too high looking down. This is not a selfie time either.
Again, place the camera at the eye-level for the optimal angle.
9. Technical stuff
you’d be surprised at how many interviews get delayed or get canceled because of an incorrect VC set up, such as a wrong camera setting, no sound, an incorrect link, etc.
Please make sure that you test your device using the same vc platform (if your interview is on zoom, test it on zoom, if MS Teams, test it on teams, if google meet, again same thing) in advance on the same day.
You want to log on to the interview at least 5 minutes beforehand in case there is any problem with logging on or starting the meeting, etc. so that you’ll be ready to go when it’s interview time.
Also, super important is ensuring that you have a fast enough internet connection. We’ve all been there, nobody like a choppy or low-resolution video. Same thing when it comes to interviews.
10. (Last but not least) Stay focused
It’s much easier to be distracted when doing an online meeting especially when you’re at home. There may be notifications, messaging apps, phone, etc. tempting you to lose focus. There is nothing as off-putting as talking to someone who is not paying attention to you especially during the interview!
I suggest your turn off any notification and put away all devices that you don’t need for the interview and give your full attention and to the interviewer just as you would in a f2f meeting.