Lighting: Put the light source in front of you and behind the camera, not behind your head. If the light is behind your head, you tend to look like an angel/ghost.
Reducing Background Noise: Most video conferencing apps reduce background noises but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything to limit noise during your session. One of the most common noise distractions is typing. You do not want to be typing during an interview, even if you mute yourself. Also, make sure your roommate isn’t doing a workout routine in the room next door or vacuuming the house during your interview!
Camera height: Nostrils are important for breathing but no one likes to see them on camera. Your camera should be at eye level. Don’t have thick engineering textbooks to raise your laptop? Use a cereal box. Using your mobile phone? Other than the height, use a picture frame to lean the phone for proper angles (and we know this is obvious, but don’t forget to turn off the ringer).
Making eye contact: It’s hard to look at a green light or the dot of a camera on your phone. Some people suggest temporarily taping a really tiny photo/image of a person next to your camera light to focus your attention only when you are speaking and to look at the screen when the interviewer is speaking. This can work but be very careful to test this/record and review so you see where your eye movements go.
Clothing tip: When USC faculty do a TV interview and are wearing blazers, the producers ask them to sit on the back of their blazer so that their shoulder pads don’t rise up to their ears during the course of the conversation. To button a blazer or keep it unbuttoned? Since no one will likely see whether something is buttoned, producers say that each blazer style is different so do what looks natural—but definitely test it out.
Headphones: A TV producer confided recently confided that for Zoom interviews, headphone wires can be distracting. She suggested that if possible, put the wire behind your neck much like the secret service/security does so that it isn’t hanging in front of your chin. The key thing here is to keep the device close enough to you that this works versus running the risk of knocking down the device during the course of the interview due to movement.
Test, Test and Retest: As engineers, you are no stranger to experiments and labs. This is no different. Go on Zoom, open a new meeting, and record yourself speaking for practice, review and adjust accordingly.
Good luck and remember you’ve got this!
Published on April 20th, 2020
Last updated on April 20th, 2020