In another video job interview tips post , we went over 6 bloopers in video presentation and environment control. Today, we’ll talk about 6 technical/equipment pitfalls to avoid in your upcoming video conference interview. Video calling is still relatively new, and people sometimes don’t have enough experience using video conferencing software and end up making mistakes that can easily be avoided.
Mistake #7 – Using a computer that is underpowered or that crashes a lot
For example, a netbook running Atom CPU (1.2 to 1.6 GHz) may not have enough CPU power for a good video conferencing experience even though the minimum system requirement for several systems (e.g. Skype, ooVoo, GoToMeeting) is 1 GHz. This is especially true if the video call involves multiple parties or the use of features like desktop sharing.
Mistake #8 – Using a flaky WiFi signal or having inadequate bandwidth
Taking a chance on your Internet going down in the middle of an interview is not the way to your potential employer’s heart. Go to a business center or a public library study room if you have wobbly Internet. (Remember that college or university network resources are usually restricted and have firewalls.) Also, make sure you have more than the minimum required bandwidth. For example, Skype’s minimum download/upload speed for a 3 person call is 512kbps / 128kbps, however, they recommend more than double that for a quality call at 2Mbps / 512kbps. 3G or 4G wireless users should beware that your bandwidth availability may be affected by cellular traffic in your area which is something you can’t control.
Mistake #9 – Using a low-end web camera
While this is not an absolute must-do, it might very well be worth your while to invest in a mid- to high-end web camera for the $50 (or less if you catch a good Ebay deal) it will cost. Some built-in or low-end cameras produce very poor quality images which doesn’t reflect well on you, and as we noted in Part 1, how you look does matter! A good rule of thumb in selecting a camera is having good optics (lens) and auto focus. We think Logitech gives you pretty good bang for your buck. We generally recommend their C905 QuickCam Pro and the Logitech Pro 9000, which seems to be replaced by the HD Pro Webcam C910/C920.
Mistake #10 – Poorly positioning your camera for eye contact
Our CEO, Milton Chen actually wrote a paper for CHI on this. Experiments have shown that we are more likely to perceive eye contact if people are looking under our eyes rather than above or to the left or right. Milton found that this translates to the best placement of your camera being a little above your monitor, with the camera tilted down slightly. It also helps to place the interviewer’s video window right underneath the camera during the interview, so you’re eyes are looking in the right direction. Finally, if you’re using dual screens, make sure you’re looking at the right screen or turn off your second screen altogether!
Mistake #11 – Not familiarizing yourself with the software or audio/visual equipment ahead of time.
Make sure you play around with the software. You should know how to adjust audio and video settings such as volume, voice and camera mute, opening and closing video windows. Also, make sure you know how to use application sharing, desktop sharing and file-transfer functions, which are especially popular in tech interviews.
Mistake #12 – Not doing a test call with friends or family
Always, always do an actual test call with a real person on the actual computer you plan to use and with the Internet connection you plan to use. This is the surest way to avoid problems with audio or video, bandwidth or CPU problems. Even better, test call a few different people and give yourself enough time to do a test call half an hour before your interview in case you need to troubleshoot anything. Even though everything worked fine the night before, an unexpected software update could throw you for a loop.
At the end of the day, keep your cool if technical difficulties still occur. After all, technical difficulties are a fact of life and may not be a bad thing. A wise person once wrote – how you or your interviewer handles an unexpected problem gives both of you a lot of insight as to the kind of potential employee or potential employer is at the table.
Good luck on your video job interview!
Which tip did you find most helpful?