YOU Magazine - January 2012 - Webcam InterviewsWhat You Need to Know to Succeed
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Brent Prockish     Brent Prockish
Brent Prockish Team at Total Lending Concepts
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Brent Prockish Team at Total Lending Concepts
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Webcam Interviews
What You Need to Know to Succeed

Webcam InterviewsWhat You Need to Know to Succeed

Webcams have steadily grown in popularity in households across the country. Now, companies are embracing the technology as a cost-effective, timesaving way to conduct interviews. And businesses aren't the only ones turning to this technology. Colleges and universities are also using webcams to interview applicants before admitting them.

If you or someone you know is in the process of applying for a new job or to a university, the following information can help you put your best foot forward if you're asked to participate in a webcam interview.

Here's How Webcam Interviews Work
If you're asked to participate in a webcam interview, it will likely take one of two forms: recorded or live. The live webcam interview is similar to the type of interview you would expect if you travelled to the company. You'll agree on a time with the company, log on with the webcam, and take part in a question-and-answer session.

The second format offers a very different experience. Typically, you'll sign into a website where you will be presented a series of questions to answer in a set amount of time–while being recorded. This can be challenging because it's such an unfamiliar setting. And, once you start the recording, you usually can't stop, edit, or re-record it. The questions will keep coming regardless of how much you ramble–and there isn't a person sitting across from you providing subtle body-language cues to how well you're doing. All of that can add up to an unsettling experience if you're not used to it.

Regardless of the format, webcam interviews are often conducted through third-party companies like that help facilitate the interview. So don't be surprised if you're contacted by a third-party company or even shipped a webcam to use during the interview.

Tips for Success
To help you prepare for a successful webcam interview, keep the following tips in mind.

Eliminate distractions. When you interview at a company's place of business, you have the benefit of a predetermined room that's free of noises and distractions. When you're at home, however, you're not so lucky. That means you may be interrupted by the phone ringing, the kids playing, or the doorbell ringing. Make sure you find a quiet place where you can avoid any distractions that may compromise your interview.

Remove the clutter. A webcam interview doesn't just allow the company to see you; they can also see into your home. If the background setting looks messy, cluttered, or less than professional, it may taint the company's perception of you. Make sure you carefully consider where and how you'll position your webcam for the interview. Then, clean up everything that will be in the background, including those things that are off in the distance. The best advice is to have a clean, simple background setting for the interview where only one or two major pieces of furniture can be seen.

Dress for success from top to toe. While it may be tempting to dress professionally from the waist up while wearing shorts or pajamas below, don't do it. There are too many stories of people who found themselves reaching for a book or retrieving an object during the interview, only to be embarrassed by the lack of professional attire on their legs. And while the situation may sound laughable, the company interviewing you may take it as a sign that you're either trying to get away with something or that you're the type of person who does things halfway. So play it safe and spend the extra three minutes it takes to dress for success right down to your shoes.

Check the lighting. The camera isn't always your friend. Anyone who's ever used a webcam realizes that you can sometimes appear pale or tired in an online video. To overcome this problem, you can take a few simple steps. First, make sure you are well rested before the interview. Second, make sure your face is clean and dry to help eliminate any shine.

You should also check–and double check–the lighting. You'll want the room to be bright, but not too bright. If you can move your webcam and chair closer to a window that lets in natural light, do so. If you need additional lighting, bring a lamp or two into the room. Try to position the lamps in different locations to make sure the room is bright, but that your face isn't washed out by too much direct lighting.

Finally, if you can't quite get the lighting right, the problem may be that your built-in or inexpensive webcam may not adequately pick up the lighting. If that's the case, you may want to consider borrowing or purchasing a better quality webcam before the interview.

Maintain eye contact. Eye contact can be tough. That's because you'll be tempted to look at your monitor to see the person you're talking to. Unfortunately, that means you'll probably appear to be looking down, since most webcams are positioned above the monitor.

To overcome this problem, make sure you look into your webcam–rather than at your monitor–when you're talking and when you're listening to the other person. It may be challenging and feel awkward at first, but it will appear natural and professional to the person on the other end.

If you're really having trouble with eye contact, you may want to consider purchasing a periscope-like reflector–such as the SeeEye2Eye teleprompter–that helps you look at the person and at your webcam at the same time.

Test your equipment. No matter how familiar you are with a webcam, you should arrive at your desk well before the interview and test your equipment. Make sure the webcam is working and that the lighting is still appropriate. In addition, check the sound levels to make sure you don't come across too softly or loudly.

You may even want to consider video chatting with a friend for a few minutes to make sure everything is working correctly and that your background setting appears professional.

Send the right body language. Like a face-to-face interview, your posture and body language are important online. So sit up straight, use simple hand gestures as you talk, and resist the urge to fidget or make a lot of unnecessary movements (like scratching your head or constantly readjusting your seating position).

Be specific, yet concise. The final word of advice is to speak eloquently. That doesn't mean using corporate buzzwords or jargon. It means providing concise answers that convey specific details.

Remember, you won't have the same visual cues that you do in a face-to-face interview. So make sure you don't ramble. Prepare specific talking points and details about your accomplishments, and then practice saying them succinctly. Don't memorize a script like you would a speech. Instead, focus on working some talking points into different types of answers.

Finally, don't be put off by a short silence after you finish speaking, which is likely due to the time delay. Remain confident and stick to your concise statements.

Practice Makes Perfect
In the end, interviews come down to how well you're prepared. Whether you're interviewing in person, over a webcam, or through a webcam recording, you'll have a better chance of getting the job if you practice.

If you have friends or family members with webcams, ask them to give you a mock webcam interview. You can also record yourself while a friend sits on the other side of the webcam and asks you questions. You may not like how you look the first time or two, but it's better to notice those things during a practice session before a new job is on the line.

If you're really uncomfortable with the prospect of a webcam interview or if you want to receive some professional feedback, you may want to consider working with a company that specializes in training people for webcam interviews, such as

By paying attention to these details, practicing, and following the tips above, you'll position yourself for a successful webcam interviewwhich may help you land that new job or get into the college you want.

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