Webcams are everywhere including your mobile phone and they bring great video capability to anyone with a computer or handheld mobile device. I have 10 Tips on how you can turn your video session into a great experience so you can get the deal, nail the meeting or score your next job.
The in-person interview or meeting is trending to become a thing of the past as executives of small and large businesses prefer the productive and financial benefits of video over phone or 1on1 sessions.
I am a daily user of services like Skype, Google Hangout or ooVoo and I could write a book about funny, disturbing and sometimes even embarrassing experiences from live video sessions but that is not my business. I am in the business of ‘helping‘ and giving useful insight and tips, so let’s get straight to it.
No matter what you intend to use your webcam for – video calls, planning sessions, updating a team, video recording or maybe even a job interview, knowing your technology and preparation and testing is the key if you want to turn the session into a success. No matter what side of the screen you are situated on, ensure to prepare and test and then deliver a great video experience with my tips listed below.
1) Wrath of Video – Avoid the “Can you hear me now?” scenario
Regardless of your video technology – it is rife with technical landmines, and we’ve all had those annoying “Can you hear me now?” moments. While most meeting partners are forgiving, they are also pressed for time. Do a TECH check before you interview.
Check this chart, if you want to understand why video conferencing is the 1st Choice over a personal 1on1 meeting for so many executives, recruiting firms and hiring managers. Time is Money. Don’t waste it!
Start with your internet connection. If your connection is flaky, find somewhere more stable. Dropped calls are understandable, but they distract from the interview and reflect poorly on your ability to plan ahead. Don’t rely on the built in microphone unless you want to sound like you’re in your bathroom. Get a dedicated microphone or good headset and test it out.
My tip: Test and use your headphone set from your mobile phone on your computer. It fits into most audio ports. Finally, have your documents, screen share, your resume and support material or link to your portfolio ready, just in case your counterpart needs to view it during or at the end of the meeting. Mention it during and after the meeting and offer to share it via email attachment. Information helps and it can also demonstrate that you came prepared!
2) Lust: Howdy, Pistol-Pete69
The first rule of any meeting is “dress to impress”. The next 3 rules are along the lines of – impress, prove and then deliver. On a webcam from your computer, tablet or even your mobile, your counterpart’s first impression of you is your username and profile picture.
So guys, if you have a cute name, versus a professional one, think about how that reflects on you (Confession: I recently changed mine to a more professional ulrich.schild.bondi).
Your profile picture is equally, if not more important. If your meeting partner(s), Hiring Manager or Recruiter decides to do voice instead of video, your profile image will be front and centre for the duration of the video session. Common sense guys, get rid of the cheeky Facebook style photo.
3) Torpor: Don’t mess up your prime time moment
(For those of you who are not up on this somewhat obscure word, Torpor could be summed up as neglecting to take care of something that one should do.)
Treat your video meeting or Skype job interview like you are preparing for your television debut. You are responsible for making sure that everything is right. Seriously – I mean it! It is so weird when the 1st five minutes are wasted by stuff that should have been done before.
Consider your background and the lighting. Make sure your room is clean and uncluttered. One candidate I interviewed had a TV running in the background. I learned a lot from looking at the background. Yes, it was late in the evening, I admit but it was an interview! I didn’t want to be imagining him preparing for bed, but rather getting into the office. It doesn’t matter what the local time is — you should always be dressed for 9 a.m. Monday.
I also think that proper appearance applies also to Start Up businesses and their employees. I don’t care if you are otherwise cool – with Beanbags – Table Tennis and a flip flop culture. I am a firm believer that culture eats strategy for breakfast but you don’t need to ruin your opportunities with bad visual impressions!
4) Dearth: Culture eats strategy for breakfast
If you are meeting to negotiate, solve problems or apply for business or a job then video is an excellent tool to assess your cultural skills. Bad Business jargon, poor communication skills and slack manners and listening skills can easily disqualify you in a video session.
If you haven’t done it, record a video session and review your appearance. Better yet, have a peer review it as well. You will be surprised by what you see. Be critical and realistic when you evaluate yourself but don’t be too hard on yourself. Focus on your language and body language skills and check your timing. One of the most common mistakes of video sessions is people speaking too fast and too much. This is particularly annoying and deal breaking when you are video calling across long distances.
My tip: Observe cultural differences, speak slower, keep it short and simple and most importantly, ask your counterpart as often as is reasonable if the reply has sufficiently serviced the meeting. This will demonstrate that you have polished culture, respect and will show efficiency and negotiation skills to name just a few.
5) Slack: Read past the wiki
Everyone says to “do your research on the company.” But, trust me, it’s easy to tell if all you have done is read the company’s Wikipedia entry. There is lots more – check out your video partner on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter. Or, conduct a Google Boolean search. Trust me, companies all monitor, and often help write, their own Wikipedia entries. Do your background work, read up or maybe even talk to people who work there. Take note not only of the company’s products and background, but culture and values, achievements – their passion for people, results and the world around them.
6) Vanity: I am not your shrink or biographer
It’s your responsibility to keep your interviewer engaged with relevant and interesting answers to her questions, especially in a Skype or Google Hangout interview, where your interviewer is still on their work computer and email notifications are appearing inches above or below your video feed.
My tip: Ensure that you are looking at the camera. The best solution for this is to place the image of your counterpart directly below your webcam. Another trick is to place a sticker below the camera to ensure that you re-point your face to the camera when you have to multitask on your screen. Fiddling and distracting activity can really kill a video session.
Also, assess the mood and energy level of your interviewer and adjust. Coming off a 6 am flight from Sydney to Melbourne, the last thing I want to do is interview someone over Skype or conduct a meeting session with someone who is motionless and monotone. Video partners or Interviewers are your audience, not your biographer. It is your responsibility to engage them.
7) Greed: Asking too many questions about what the company can do for you!…
It always amazes me how business negotiators or job interviewers get this one wrong without even being aware of it .This point is particularly relevant for Job Seekers and Career Changers who are invited to ‘first impression’ video interviews.
During an interview, employers are trying to answer the question, “Is this person right for this company?” That means you shouldn’t be asking “What’s in it for me?”
I vividly remember a number of video interviews where candidates put me off with their focus on what the company can do for them. So many job seekers are not aware of their questions and often fail to prepare. That made me less focused on what the candidate could actually contribute to our company and more focused on what we would have to contribute to him or her and so mentally, the interview was often over for me.
Don’t get me wrong here guys. I think it’s totally fine to ask those kinds of questions, but it shouldn’t be the focus of your first negotiation or job interview and certainly not on Skype or Google Hangout where you could pitch or interview in front of a panel and where it’s harder to read people.
9) Laggards: It’s ok if you are catching up, but I don’t need to know it
Ok, so you are new to all this ‘video – webcam’ stuff but you accepted a meeting because you want the business or the job. If you want a glimpse into reality – click here
Please, catch up on how it all works, test, record and familiarise yourself with the technology or you will kill the opportunity. There is no excuse for being a laggard when it comes to this simple technology. This might sound pushy but if you haven’t done it, get cracking and if you think you can deal without it, go back and re-charge your Nokia 3210, but don’t complain if you were not selected or if you end up feeling your counterparts were biased.
Technology is here to stay. It’s an opportunity not a burden.
10) Hubris: Authentic follow-ups
Lastly, I know it is the era of social media, instant chat and leisure communication but don’t chat me up when you see me online or follow up on Skype chat. It’s intrusive and a bit weird.
Skype doesn’t have strong privacy functions, like Facebook lists or Google+ circles. it’s more difficult to filter work and personal contacts. In any event, genuine follow-ups (if we agreed to it!) are always more impressive than over Skype chat.
Stick to an old school thank-you email. (And please, if I just interviewed you, don’t add me on Facebook… or send me a LinkedIn invitation)
There is more to video meetings than Skype. Several online services offer tools to use live and recorded video or to pre-screen candidates and conduct productive and cost effective meetings or job interviews.
In the time you’d normally spend doing one in-person interview, you can appraise, rate, and cull a slew of prospects. If you want to try out video vs 1on1, here are four useful video interviewing platforms to help you find your next superstar business partner or employee. Use it and enjoy the benefits and when you go out there to canvass,
remember to hunt wisely!