When it comes to the admissions process, video interviews are a great opportunity to highlight your personality and enthusiasm to admissions advisors, which can’t always be communicated as strongly through a written application or telephone interview. As an added bonus, pre-recorded interviews allow you extra time to consider potential answers carefully before the interview begins to ensure the best response.
The remote nature of the interview process also gives you the freedom to choose what hardware you want to use, where you want to film, and how you want to come across.
Choosing the right technology
It’s always a good idea to record on the device you feel most comfortable with. However, while you can record your interview on any device (laptop, mobile, tablet…), the ability of your admissions advisor to see and hear you clearly during your recording should also be top of mind.
Below are three key aspects to check ahead of time, regardless of the device you choose.
1. Your internet connection:
- Ensure your connection is reliable enough to avoid freezing or cutting out mid-video.
- Avoid using public or unsecured networks for the sake of your privacy and to maintain a strong connection.
- Make sure notifications are turned off to avoid distractions during recording or consider putting your device in Do Not Disturb mode.
3. Headsets and microphones:
- Always test your headset and microphone well in advance.
- Using a headset can help with sound quality if you have issues with echo. To minimize the risk of disconnecting, we recommend using either wired or USB headsets or earphones.
Setting the scene
A great recording space is one that offers natural light, neutral-colored walls, and a closed door to minimize distraction. For those with family or friends nearby, make sure you let them know when you’re starting and make sure pets are kept away to avoid guest appearances.
Here are a few considerations to help you set up before filming:
Lighting: The best angles for lighting are overhead and at 45-degree angles in front of you, either to the left or to the right. A window directly in front or behind you can create washout or ghost-like effects.
Background: Make sure you are centered within the video’s frame. While you want to avoid clutter (for example, piles of books, papers, and laundry), accents like plants or pictures are perfectly acceptable. If you do include accents, make sure that you’re still featured predominantly, and that you aren’t overshadowed by other features in your background.
For those who want to take an advanced approach, consider using the Rule of Thirds. If you think of your video’s scene as nine quadrants with three main horizontal sections, placing yourself slightly off center, either at the intersection of the first and second sections or where the second and third sections meet can help create a natural, eye-catching view.
Pro Tip: While mirrors are great to check before getting in front of the camera, including them in your video can be a risk. There’s nothing worse than having something accidentally revealed in the background that you hadn’t intended!
Technology: If using your mobile phone or tablet, make sure it’s attached to a stand or prop to avoid wobble or strange shifts in view as you speak or gesture with your hands. Using a flat surface will also help to avoid unwanted noise if adjusting your position.
Audio: In addition to a closed door, choosing a space with carpeted floors can help to prevent echo in your video’s audio.
Highlighting your best qualities
Dressing in a professional manner is a key factor in making a positive first impression.
• Do: Dress as you would for an in-person interview.
• Don’t: Forget to extend the professional attire from head to toe in case you need to stand unexpectedly!
In a video interview, the “eyes” of your interviewer are the webcam, not the screen.
• Do: Look directly into the camera to appear more engaged.
• Don’t: Focus too much on the screen, or flit back and forth, which can come across as downcast, drowsy, or distracted.
Admissions advisors will get a sense of your personality from your body language and facial expressions in the same way they would if conducting the interview in person.
• Do: Underscore who you are as a person, separate from just your answers.
• Don’t: Forget it’s still a professional interview.
Getting comfortable with video ahead of time
Confidence comes with time…and with multiple reshoots. One way to ensure you don’t get nervous during the interview is to research ahead of time what types of questions you might be asked. This gives you the chance to plan your answers thoughtfully and will help you feel more confident for questions that are similar in nature, if not exact.
Do you have friends or family members going through the same process? Consider taking turns interviewing each other online, or swapping recordings for review and feedback.
Whether it’s on your own, or with others, practicing ahead of time can help the process feel more natural.
Still feeling nervous? You’re not alone! There are lots of ways to minimize stress ahead of your virtual admissions interview. Take a look at our article “How to Overcome Job Interview Nerves” to learn more!