Best Practices for MBA Video Interviewing: Part 2 (of 3) – Physical and Virtual Interview Space Preparation

Hello, I’m John Hutchings, Associate Director, in the Jenkins MBA Career Management Center.  Thank you for watching this three-video series about how to best interview on video.  In the previous video, I discussed your pre-interview set-up.  In this video I will be addressing 7 best practices in setting up your physical and virtual interview space.

 1. Find a Neutral Background

  • Paying attention to your background is absolutely crucial. A bedroom with a sloppy bed, a home office full of clutter, a kitchen table … all of these connote information about you to the interviewer, none of it good.
  • It’s not only unprofessional, but it also distracts the interviewer.  You want the interviewer focused on you, not trying to figure out what something is in the background.
  • If you can, set yourself up against a completely blank background, but leave some distance between you and the wall.  Try to allow for at least 3 feet minimum between the back of your head and the wall, so you don’t blend into the background and flatten your shot.

2. Use A Virtual Background …If you Need It. If the location you’re using is either too messy, has too many distractions, is hideously ugly, etc, consider using a virtual background.  And be sure to practice with it first to see if it looks good.

3. Master Your Lighting. Getting perfect lighting for video can be very difficult in a home environment, but ideally you want to aim for the following:

  • Get plenty of light overall so it doesn’t look like you’re cowering in the dark.
  • Position two lights, if possible, at a diagonal in front of you, one a bit to your right, and one a bit to your left. Table lamps work fine.
  • Eliminate any direct backlighting (like a window behind you) and avoid light shining directly over your head.

4. Prep for Optimal Eye Contact – Don’t Sit Too Far or Too Close

  • When you’re setting up your chair, you’ll want to make sure you don’t end up looking too tiny or too huge. To be well proportioned, make sure there’s a bit of empty space on the screen above your head and check that your shoulders and upper chest are visible.
  • A best practice to get this is to have one arm length between you and your camera.
  • Position the webcam so that it is at eye level and you are looking straight ahead.

5. Prepare your physical interview space

Set up your desk or interview area so you have everything you need at hand. Put a copy of your resume out, along with any notes you have for answering or asking questions during the interview. 15 minutes before your interview make sure that you’ve got something to drink, some notepaper, and a pen.

6. Minimize Interruptions—But Take Them in Stride If They Happen

  • Do whatever you can to cut down on the chances of being interrupted. If you can, set up in a room where you can close the door and inform anyone else in the house that they shouldn’t disturb you during your interview. And make sure you turn off or silence your phone or any other electronic device that might make noise.
  • However, if there’s a high chance of you being interrupted by something outside of your control, mentioning it at the start can prepare your interviewer and show them you’re proactive. It can also help settle your nerves about the situation. If something really is unavoidable, you can apologize, address it very briefly, and move on.
  • Lastly, do not do your video interview in any public place, like a Starbucks. Beyond the problems with the setting and noise, there is a good chance your your Wi-Fi won’t be reliable.

7. Close Programs On Your Computer or Laptop

  • Close down programs to avoid a slowdown of your operating system than could affect the video and audio feed.
  • Close down programs so your interview isn’t interrupted by any alert chimes or popups.
  • And you want to avoid awkward situations on what may be on other windows if you have to share your screen