Video interviews for beginners

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This blog is dedicated to talking about video interviews from our technical team’s perspective here at The Needle. We might be geeks, but we realise not everyone is, so here is a simple run down of what you need to know from a ‘techie’ perspective.

You’ve just been invited to make a video interview for the first time, you’re keen to do well as you are really interested in the job, and you think you can ‘wow’ the recruiter with your know how and experience. So which choice of device works best to make a real video interview impact? The minimum you’ll need is some type of laptop with a webcam, a web browser and an Internet connection. No problem? Well, you can improve the results significantly if your set-up exceeds the minimum. Here are some suggestions on what works well, and what to avoid.

How old is your chosen device for recording your video interview?

Older laptops and netbooks will suffer from two main problems. Firstly, they will tend to have low-resolution webcams, and have limited computing power. Resolution is important, as that translates into how sharp your video image will be. Older laptops – say, more than three years old – will probably have 0.3 megapixel (MP) webcams. However, you will probably not even get that resolution as that’s the theoretical maximum for the camera and is highly dependent on lighting, focus and general ageing of the optical sensors. So older webcams will produce blurry, images which might detract from your interview performance.

Is your laptop powerful enough for video interviewing?

You might not know this, but the laptop microprocessor or CPU will be working hard to process the video images. If the CPU is running at close to its limits, then the frame rate of the video will be reduced. In some cases this can go as low as 10 frames per second (FPS), which gives very jerky motion. Compare that with 24 FPS for movies and 50 FPS for normal TV. The amount of light you have on the camera sensor can also help to increase the frame rate, but the CPU will typically be the limiting factor.

Webcam quality

Newer laptops and Apple Macs will have much more powerful CPUs and higher resolution webcams – 5 MP or more is common on most laptops, while 8.3 MP is standard on Macs to support HD FaceTime applications. The improved resolution and increased video frame rate will make your video interview look much better. All the same, good lighting is still very important to optimise both picture quality and allow the webcams to properly focus.

So if you have the latest Dell or MacBook Air, your video interview is going to look pretty good. But you can get even better! Most Smartphones and Tablets today have not just very high-resolution cameras – sometimes over 10 MP – but they have been designed to produce HD quality images and videos. However, the highest resolution camera tends to be on the other side of the screen. When you’re making a video interview, you’ll be using the front facing camera, which typically has a 1.3 MP resolution. But using the front facing camera you can still record a 720P HD video – that’s 1280 x 720 pixels at 30 FPS. In our experience, recording your video interview on your tablet gives you the best video quality, and allows you to see clearly the interview questions and any speaker notes you may have made on the tablet display. But remember; make sure you have a lot of light on yourself for optimum results.

Lighting and positioning

Regardless of the webcam capability, make sure you have lots of light shining on you and sit close to the webcam when making your video interview. Also make sure that you close down all other applications to maximise your share of the CPU.

Camera, lights, action!

It’s probably not surprising that newer equipment gives you the best results. You can also find other tips to help you make the best video interview you can on our FAQs. However, you can make a good video interview even on older devices. That’s because the one key component of the interview is not the technology – it’s you!

Let us know how you completed your video interview, and whether you have any other tips to share.

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