Use this checklist to make sure your video self leaves a positive first impression.

Share story

One of the great pleasures of working in the digital age has been the advancements in video and audio communication. Nothing used to annoy me more than enduring conference calls that cut off the first words of every sentence and muddled comments in an echo chamber.

Today, social media tools such as Skype, GoToMeeting and Meeting Burner make it easy to hold one-on-one interviews with sharp, real-time video and audio. Increasingly, hiring managers are saving time and effort by using these online tools to conduct screening interviews. But fancy equipment doesn’t guarantee you’re being seen in the best light. Use this checklist to make sure your video self leaves a positive first impression.

1. Take the interview seriously. You may be at home and relaxing in a comfortable environment, but remember that this is not just a casual chat. Treat it as you would any face-to-face interview. Dress for success, maintain good posture and show your enthusiasm for the job.

2. Know the weaknesses of your equipment. Make sure you have a secure connection that can handle a continuous video feed. Keep your battery charged in case the power cord gets dislodged. Have your cellphone and the phone number of the interviewer handy in case something interrupts the transmission. Being ready with a Plan B will demonstrate your ability to solve problems.

Most Read Stories

Sale! Save over 90% on digital access.

3. Be aware of what’s behind you. You may look great, but did you remember to remove the stacks of papers behind you or the silly poster on the wall? You don’t want any distractions to take the focus off of you, so make sure you’re in a quiet room where no children or pets can create distractions.

4. Maintain “lens contact.” Though you may instinctively look into the eyes of the interviewer on your screen, you are most likely focusing on a spot a few inches below the camera. To the interviewer, it appears that your eyes are cast downward. Find out where the lens is on your equipment and look directly into it as much as possible.

5. Take a test run. Call up a friend or colleague and make sure the video conditions are optimal. Is there enough light to see your facial expressions? Can you be heard clearly? Is the image jerky? Can the interviewer see your hand movements? Try to smooth out these kinks before the real interview begins.

Randy Woods is a writer and editor in the Puget Sound business publishing arena and a veteran of the local job-search scene. Email him at