Recently this topic has, due to recent events, become more and more relevant.  Videoconferencing is necessary for multiple scenarios and being able to do so well via video is crucial.  No matter what people say, interviewing via video is just not the same as being there.  You do not usually see yourself during a face-to-face interview!

To have a successful interview, recognizing video ‘etiquette’ will help you be (and feel) prepared.

Before the Interview

  • Turn around and look at what is behind you – does it present the image you want to share?  Less is more.
  • Let others in your vicinity know you are participating in a video call
  • If working from a home office, make sure the dog is let out and that any other potential interruptions are addressed.

Julie Somerville provided the following tips on LinkedIn to make the interview as natural as possible:

  • Position the camera so your face, and the top half of your body, are in the frame. This enables parties to read your body language, thus emphasizing the message that you are sending.
    • You can check the positioning of the camera when you first dial into an online meeting – most platforms give you the option to “vanity check” what you look like before you connect your video.
    • If you’re too close to the camera your face will take up all the real estate on-screen — aim for your face and the top half of your body to fill about 50% to 60% of the screen.
  • Think carefully about how you present on video. Make sure your face is well lit – position your desk so natural light is on your face (and not behind you) or use a well-positioned lamp (or flashlight on your phone) to highlight your face.
    • Harsh or unflattering lighting can be distracting and take away from what you are saying.
    • Your goal is to make your appearance as natural as possible so that people are not distracted by your appearance and can direct all their mental energy towards considering the arguments you are making.

Internet and Technical Difficulties

It is so much easier walking into an office or meeting room, putting your materials on the table, and starting discussions.  Now, we are relying on quality Internet connections (or not), up-to-date technology, and the ability of the user to connect to the meeting in a timely fashion.

Technical difficulties are par for the course.  It is not unusual to have trouble connecting or to suddenly lose audio and/or video in the middle of the meeting.  These glitches can cause irritation because it interrupts the flow of a meeting. 

Don’t go in blind.  Practise using your video technology. Learn how to turn on the video (or off),  how to upload a document and/or share your screen to avoid disruptions.  If internet connectivity is a problem often, I would suggest rebooting your modem and computer to refresh things prior.  If you have minimal bandwidth, ask others in the area to avoid using Youtube, video-games, etc. during your meeting. 

Another tip – learn how to connect to the meeting via computer mic or phone and practice how to mute and unmute your microphone quickly.  (Many video platforms allow you to press the spacebar for a quick ‘unmute’ or use a key-stroke combination).  A muted line helps avoid the distractions – the microphone picks up far more than you think.

On-Screen

We have seen many memes and videos online where the video participant is dressed well from the waist up and they forget while the camera is running…. Or they take a trip to the bathroom while on camera.  And while that is funny, and likely does not happen too often, little things on-screen can either detract or add to the discussion:

  • Keep your eyes on the screen.  When you only see a person on a small screen you cannot see what is going on in their environment off camera.  If you are constantly looking off-screen, it can be perceived you are not paying attention or that there is someone offscreen adding to the discussion.
  • Keep your hand gestures within the frame of the camera
  • Strive to minimize sound and visual distractions
  • Concentrate harder on capturing non-verbal cues like facial expressions, tone and pitch of their voice, and body language.
  • Resist the urge to multi-task
  • Do not be afraid of silences, especially during a negotiation
  • Avoid unnecessary interruptions – mute your phone, shut down your email program, etc.
  • Avoid walking around during the discussion – we’ve all seen video clips where the user moves too quickly; it creates a feeling of motion-sickness.
  • Dress as you would to attend a face-to-face meeting to show your professionalism.

Camera Placement to Build Rapport

Through laughter, frowns, raised voices, and hand gestures, participants can build rapport and understanding.  With the placement of cameras on laptops being primarily located at the top of a screen, when we are looking at the screen we are not looking in the person’s eyes.  This can impair participants from building that same level of trust and rapport as if they were face to face.  As such, make every effort to be attentive to the discussion.  One tip that I use during video chats is to put a large binder under my laptop.  This lifts the camera to be more at my eye level – giving the perception of looking others in the eye.  If you are using your mobile phone or tablet, turn it horizontal to expand the video space.

I trust these tips will assist in making the video discussion more personal and avoid the distractions that could derail a positive outcome for a meeting.

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