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Video Interview Background Tips

Written By: Don Ross

So you’ve got a video interview coming up and you’re trying to get ready for it. Interviewing on camera adds another layer of complexity to an already stressful activity. Just like any interview, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of details that could ruin your interview. The video interview background and how you are going to look on the other side of the screen is just another thing to worry about.

There’s no shortage of information on how to pick the best background for video interviews. The problem is that most of the information out there is intended for commercial level production where you need to spend a lot of time and money picking the perfect backdrop. This type of interview is intended for a wide audience.

You are in a different situation. Instead, you are trying to convince one person (the hiring manager) that you are the right gal or guy for the job.

Video interview backdrops still matter for you, but that’s because choosing the wrong background can make it difficult for the hiring manager to see you on the other side of the screen.

Keep these video interview background tips in mind when you’re choosing where to set up.

What the hiring manager wants to see: Your Smiling Face

The hiring manager wants to see how excited you are about the role and that you’re confident that you can do the job.

This can be difficult to do if you use a video interview white background, especially if the room is poorly lit. You basically just blend into the backdrop. To avoid this, pick a spot that has more contrast than a plain white wall so you stand out from your background.

What the hiring manager does NOT want to see: NSFW Material and Distractions

Make sure your background doesn’t include anything that might be offensive or indicates you’ll be a bad employee – no questionable posters, no alcohol or shot glasses, and definitely no drug paraphernalia.

Just to be on the safe side, also remove anything that shows your political leanings from the background. For example, the hiring manager might also “Feel the Bern” but then again maybe she doesn’t.

Also, look out for distractions. The hiring manager wants to see you, not the background. Anything that might take her eyes off of you is bad. So keep the background away from windows and mirrors. Those backgrounds can change during recording, and that’s not good for you.

Keep in mind that your clothes are also part of the background. Plaid or striped shirts can look different on camera, which can be distracting for the viewer.

Testing Out Backgrounds

You could rack your brain trying to pick the perfect background by yourself, and be no better off for it. You just don’t know how it will look on the other side of the screen.

Instead of doing that, ask your family or friends for help picking the best background on your next Skype or Facetime conversation. They will be able to see what you can’t.

Treat this like a dress rehearsal. (Literally. Wear your interview clothes.) Before you call, pick out three potential spots for the interview and scrub each of them for the things that shouldn’t be in the background.

Your family and friends can help you pick out the best camera angle and lighting so that your face can be seen. They also may catch any distractions that you originally missed.

Good luck on your next video interview and remember to check the background!

Don is the founder of Habit Engineering, a blog that analyzes habits that contribute to health, wealth, and happiness.

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