In our last blog post, we talked about the importance of preparation for a video interview; and briefly touched on the topic of cameras and lights. When you have a video interview scheduled, these are two of the most important pieces of tech that you should consider. Here are some tips to help you maximize the quality of both, with options for every budget.
Your best choice of a camera will be influenced by your personal preferences, and budget of course. However, here you will find Visium Resources’ recommendations stemming from many years of video interview experience, and with camera quality becoming more and more important, not only in the context of video interviews, but also in everyday life; it could make sense to invest a little extra on a more professional webcam setup over a cheaper video webcam.
At Visium we also believe it’s better to go with an external webcam over the built-in option on your computer— no matter whether you are using a laptop or desktop, PC or Mac. External cameras are a better bet because they allow for higher image quality and more flexibility in where you place them (which we will discuss below). There are many webcam brands, but the standard has been the Logitech brand (specifically the c900 series). There are numerous options on webcams, but make sure to read the reviews and consider your own pros and cons on each option.
What about tablets and mobile phones? While we all have access to a phone or tablet, and most of them have quality near as good as external webcams, there are numerous downsides you may want to consider before using them for your video interview. These devices often are more temperamental when it comes to the video software, as you will always have to download a separate app on mobile devices. There is also a larger risk of disconnection and/or unreliable bandwidth connections. Not to mention the difficulties that come with lighting, placement and mics.
The first thing you should think about whenever you are on video is that camera placement. Even famous models and entertainment personalities tend to look a bit off when a camera is shooting them from an upward angle. For optimal appearance, the camera should be placed just above your eye-level and angled slightly downward. There are a few ways to accomplish this flattering angle.
Option 1: External Webcam
Place the webcam on a stack of books, a box, tripod or webcam grip behind your monitor. You will want the webcam to be just above your eye-line, almost directly in front of your forehead and then tilt downwards.
Option 2: Built-In Webcam
Like the advice above, place your laptop on top of something (books, a standing desk, etc.) to get the webcam to the level of your forehead.
Option 3: Phone/Tablet
While we do not recommend this, we realize that some applicants only have a phone camera. For this to work, we recommend a phone grip that will hold your phone at a higher level. With the advent of video blogging and selfies many stands exist for recording video with your phone. While this doesn’t get rid of all the challenges related to using your phone, it can get it to the proper level and some even have a decent light built in!
The correct lighting for your camera is extremely important! In fact, many professional filmmakers agree, light is the MOST important factor to good quality video. Good lighting can make anyone look like a movie star! Why do you think TV shows and movies have such powerful lights on set?
Our friends over at Wistia put together a useful video full of tips for webcam and lighting which is recommended watching before your next interview.
While good lighting is important, it doesn’t have to be expensive. All you need to get the set up shown in that video are two clamp lights and daylight bulbs (which can both be easily purchased at your local home improvement store) and a couple of light stands or something else that you can use to clip your lights to.
Place the lights about 3-4 feet from you on either side of, and a little higher than your webcam. You want to get daylight bulbs as they are the most like natural light and make you look better than regular bubs.
If you’re either on a tight budget or short on time, you can create a similar effect by positioning two lamps (with daylight bulbs), one on either side of your desk with the light source ideally at the height of the webcam or a little bit higher (be sure to utilize the webcam positioning we discussed above). Or if you happen to have a window, you can use natural light for one side of your lighting.
While this won’t give you the exact same movie star effect as the set-up with the clamp lights, you’ll end up with a much higher quality effect than if you’d settled for regular room lighting.
Last but certainly not least, audio is also extremely important. After all, an interview isn’t worth anything if the interviewer can’t hear your answers! While all phones, webcams and laptops have built-in microphone, at Visium we recommend using an external microphone if possible. A microphone on your webcam, computer or phone will pick up a lot of background noise that you might want to keep out. Also, your voice won’t sound as deep or rich as it would if you use an external microphone. Since the tone of voice is proven to be extremely important for persuasion, using the highest quality microphone you can will help you land the position.
The least expensive and readily available option is to use your phone earbuds. These will usually have built in mics which, while not the best quality, at least get the microphone closer to your mouth to give your sound an overall better quality.
While there are many things during the interview process that you are not in control of, you can always control how you look and sound. Having a high-quality video interview can help differentiate you from your competition and may just be the key to landing your next position.