young caucasian business man looking at a picture or watching a video

Make Your Interview Video Stand Out

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

I recently spoke with a restaurant owner in California who was opening up a new location and needed to hire 45 people. The interview process was taking too long so his son offered a new idea: ask job candidates to send in videos. Eureka! Why schedule in-person interviews when you can “meet” people digitally?

The good news is that he received a lot of videos. It turns out that there are many video-creation tools, and almost everyone knows how to use them.

The bad news is that not all videos are created equal. Although numerous digital tools have been created to showcase speaking, many people have failed to develop the skills needed to impress while using those tools. The owner was able to instantly reject many applicants because the videos revealed a fatal flaw: lack of speaking skills.

Clearly, verbal communication is still important. It was always important in the workplace, but it’s now critical in many more “places”—online and face-to-face. Today, speaking skills are on display in many more ways (Think: Face Time, Skype, Periscope, Marco Polo, Webex, Yammer, and so on), and how well or poorly you speak will be noticed. If you want to succeed socially and professionally, improved oral communication is required.

Readers of Own Any Occasion know that all speaking involves creating a message and then performing that message. In the evolving world of business, this applies to digital speaking, too.


Not surprisingly, a critical tip for creating an impressive video is to pay attention to your appearance. Yes, that means your personal appearance. You need to present the right look for the occasion and dress appropriately. What people commonly forget, though, is that they must also pay attention to the appearance of everything that will be caught on camera. A sloppy desk? Odd items on the shelf behind you? Some wrappers from your lunch? So, before recording, take a still shot and analyze the picture. Does it reinforce the impression you want to make? Bottom line: set up the shot to make the whole picture impressive.

Now, let’s review a few best practices for performing in a video. First, be sure to look into the camera. When meeting face-to-face, we all know how important it is to make eye contact. It is critical to look at the people listening to you to engage with them and receive feedback.

In the digital world, it is just as important to make eye contact. You do that by looking at the camera, not the screen. Unfortunately, people commonly focus their attention on looking at themselves on the screen. Stop it. You already know what you look like. If you’re looking at yourself as you record, the video viewer will likely get a terrific view of your forehead. Instead, remember to look into the lens as if you are looking into the eyes of a listener. This is a tiny adjustment, but it will make your video stand out.

Second, add life—lots of life. A small screen and a small speaker diminish oral communication. What sounds normal in person sounds dull in a video. No doubt, all speakers must work on adding more feeling, emotion, and passion to their talks. (Check out this video to learn more.) But talking via digital media demands even more life. Record yourself saying, “I think I’d be an asset to your restaurant.” Play it back. Did it convince you? Keep recording until you hear what an employer would want to hear: someone clearly enthusiastic about joining the staff.

Like the restaurant owner, many companies are using digital tools instead of in-person meetings to make hiring decisions. Thoughtful application of these simple tips can make your digital presence superior to the other candidates—and help you land the job.

For more advice, check out Own Any Occasion. This book offers 11 steps for how to craft the perfect message and captivate audiences with exceptional delivery, no matter the circumstance. Or you can join me March 22-23 at the Core 4 Conference 2018 in Philadelphia for the session: Better Speaking, Better Training.

About the Author

Erik Palmer is an author, speaker, and consultant from Denver, Colorado. He focuses on improving oral communication—whether one-on-one, small group, large group, informal or formal, in-person or digital—by sharing practical, understandable ideas that help all adults become effective speakers and teachers of speaking. Erik previously spent 10 years managing an office for a prominent commodity brokerage firm, where he was the national sales leader), and trading on the floor of a Chicago commodity exchange. He also taught in one of Colorado’s premier school districts for 21 years, and was named a Teacher of the Year. A frequent presenter at conferences, Erik has given keynotes and led workshops for adults across the United States and around the world. He is the author of the ATD Press book, Own Any Occasion, as well as Well-Spoken: Teaching Speaking to All Students, Digitally Speaking: How to Improve Student Presentations with Technology, Teaching the Core Skills of Listening & Speaking, Researching in a Digital World , and Good Thinking: Teaching Argument, Persuasion, and Reasoning. Erik has a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and a master’s degree from the University of Colorado, Denver. 

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