Looking at the Green Light: Tips for Digital Interviewing

Hi everyone! Life has settled down in the past little bit, and given me a chance to rest before prepping for my final interview! Since it’s going to be on Zoom, I won’t have any wild travel blogs that week, though I do have a special surprise planned for the Bay Path Interview report blog.

For now, I’m preparing for the unique experience of trying to introduce strangers to me, and convince them they want to work with me for two years… all over Zoom! Digital interviewing shares a lot in common with in-person interviewing, but there are special considerations as well. For anyone out there tackling a Skype or Zoom interview soon, and for me, here’s some ideas on nailing the video-based interview day.

Tip 1: The Green Light

Am I the only one who thought that your computer shows a green light when you’re using a webcam so that you know if someone has hacked into your webcam and turned it on? That is probably one reason, but it seems there’s another purpose for that little light as well. It’s for you to look at! It’s a hard habit to break, but looking at the person you’re talking to on video chat is actually looking away from them.

I found this picture from high school, a screenshot that my friend took while we were skyping, that shows what it looks like when you look at the person talking.

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Also a great example of weird lighting and a messy background. We’ll get to all of this. Lol.

Just like eye contact is crucial in an in-person interview, training yourself to look at the camera, not at the interviewers eyes, is crucial for video interviewing.

I read somewhere that it can be helpful to put a picture of your interviewer right by the camera. Personally, I haven’t tested that out, but let me know if any of you do. I find that the simplest way to ensure eye contact with your interviewer is to either sit far enough back from the screen so that you can look at the light and the video at the same time. Or, simply be conscious of looking at the light.

Tip 2: Arrange an Intentional Space

As you can see from the screenshot above, wherever your desk happens to be might not be the best place for the video interview. Items in the background can be distracting (like, why do we have 2 fans right next to each other), and a white wall could be too stark.

Find a space with good lighting and a pleasant background behind you, and a place to set your computer down where it will be a good height. If you can’t find all of these things in the same place, find a nice background, some kind of flat surface for your computer, then add a lamp and a perch like this…

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There’s chaos all around, but all the interviewer sees is my well-lit face and upper-body. As for the puzzle, hopefully that’s finished by interview day lol.

Tip 3: Find Your Best Wifi

A fact about me– my husband and I’s home wifi network is called “We Miss Google Fiber” because when I lived in Provo we had access to free high speed internet through Google Fiber (probably in exchange for selling our personal information and souls to Google, but IDK I didn’t read the Terms and Conditions). But now that we live in Taylorsville, we have to pay for internet that’s about 1/4 as reliable. Cool.

So, unless you’re like lucky college me, living somewhere that’s blanketed in Fiber hotspots, it could be worthwhile to consider what places have the best internet for you to use for your video interview. Work or school could be a better option for a reliable connection, and depending who you live with, quieter as well. I’ll be at home because I work 40 minutes away, so let’s hope the wifi gods give me a break just this once. 😂

Also make sure to test your connection, video input, and audio input before starting the interview. Tech mishaps are a huge source of distraction and a waste of time during video interviews.

Tip 4: Treat It Like a Typical Interview Day

So, compared to an interview day like, say, this…

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where you fly out, meet people, take pictures, and get Chinese Food in NYC…

An interview day where you sit in your home office on video chat, feels like less than a real interview day. But don’t let your interview day get Imposter Syndrome! An interview is an interview and a chance to pursue your dream! Like I said, I’m going to make Bay Path interview day a special one somehow. Make your video interview a close to the real thing as possible, without dropping everything and flying to Connecticut.

(btw the school is in Massachusetts, the airport is just in Connecticut haha.)

Along with this thought, prepare for a video interview like you would an in-person interview. Come with questions, dress the part (pants included, IMO!), and get ready to learn more about an amazing program that may be right for you.

Tip 5: Be Conscious of Distraction

This tip has a double meaning. On video interview there are opportunities for both you to get distracted and your interviewer to get distracted by you, your dog, a window, your shirt, and whatnot. My applicant squad from Discord offered tons of great tips on avoiding causing your interviewer distractions. As I’ve shared, a quiet and neutral space are important. It’s also great to be conscious of your appearance and movement and how they convey on video. Bright colors or patterns can wash you out in a video. You may need a bit more makeup to make it appear on video, if make-up is your thing. Most of all, sitting still is more important than ever because moving around with a less than perfect internet connection might leave you looking like this…

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I’ve also noticed through mock interviewing that, since I’m at home, I’m more easily distracted when doing a video interview. Buddy barks, Zach comes looking for me, the neighbor’s baby cries, and a couple ambulances go hauling down Redwood Road.

I certainly don’t have the perfect solution, but I find that wearing my AirPods helps to filter out outside sounds and keep me focused on what my interviewer is saying. I wear my hair over them so they’re not as obvious, although I don’t believe any interviewer would be offended at the glimpse of them. If you’re worried, ask if it’s okay if you use headphones!

*****

There’s my research on video interviewing! It feels a bit like a post from 2004 when people were learning to use Skype hahaha. But it was a good refresher of video interviewing etiquette before going into my video interview next Friday.

And can you believe 50 days until Match Day!! We’re almost there!

-Laura Cooper-Hastings

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