If you’re a soon-to graduate senior or junior who is finishing up semesters abroad, the chances are good that you’ll have to experience an interview conducted over video at some point in your professional life. With more than 63% of companies doing this type of interviewing these days, now might be the time for you! As I nervously prepared for my overseas internship interviews over Skype, the anxiety was palpable – where should I sit? Was it awkward to look at myself on camera? Why did the lighting make me so pale?! (Oh and of course don’t forget to wear pants!) Thankfully, after reaching out to a few professionals, I gathered some invaluable advice from makeup tips to tech tricks that helped ensure I put my best self forward.
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1. Choose a matte foundation.
Makeup maestro Mariana McGrath of San Francisco emphasizes that for on-camera makeup, having an even skin tone is paramount. “The goal,” she states, “is to look like a more refined edition of yourself.” To achieve this result, one should opt for foundations with matte finishes as they won’t give off a shiny effect.
2. Tap on that concealer.
“Use a concealer that matches your skin tone to cover any discoloration coming through your foundation such as blemishes, under eye dark circles, or redness around the nose,” Mariana said. “Try MAC Studio Finish Concealer for good coverage and skin-like texture. Apply your concealer in a patting or tapping motion. This will build coverage and blend without irritating the skin or wiping the foundation underneath it away.” To complete your look, she recommends setting your makeup with a mattifying powder or blotting film.
3. Accentuate your features.
“Finish the skin with a natural bronzer or blush to put color back into your cheeks,” Mariana said. “Be sure to accentuate your features so they don’t get lost. Fill your brows in, use a bit of eyeliner on your upper eyelid, curl your lashes and apply two coats of mascara. Finish the lips with a neutral color that flatters your skin tone.”
4. Apply your makeup in the same lighting where you will be in front of the camera.
This secret is essential, as the outcomes of your makeup will differ substantially depending on lighting. “It’s ok to wear a little more makeup than you would in person as it translates differently on camera,” Mariana said. “Even if you are not used to wearing any makeup, do it for the camera!”
1. Avoid fluorescent light like the plague.
To gain insight from a lighting connoisseur, I spoke to Betsy Chester, Light Assistant at the Woolly Mammoth Theater Company. Her expertise ensures that her actors always appear their best on stage! “Fluorescent light can be harsh on your skin and wash you out no matter how great your makeup looks,” Betsy said. “And why put all that hard work to waste!?”
2. Plan B: Fight the light.
“If fluorescent lighting is unavoidable, don’t panic,” Betsy said. “You can help fight the light! Just grab a small desk lamp with a normal warm lamp (think your traditional amber light—it does wonders for your skin tone) and place it on the desk in front of you or slightly off to the side. This will cast a nice warm light on you and brighten you right back up!”
3. Avoid sitting directly in front of a light source.
A single light source, specially if it is the brightest light in the room, “will pull the focus away from you and onto the bright light in the background and put you into a shadowy silhouette, making it hard for the interviewer to see your amazing face and focus on your even more awesome personality,” Betsy said.
4. Use the rule of two.
“Try to sit in a place with at least two light sources,” Betsy said. “These can be any combination of the following: an overhead light, a desk lamp, or a floor lamp. Have them at least a few feet away from you and out of the video so they are not distracting. You want to have light coming at you from more than one place so you stay nice and dimensional (and appear as if you’re sitting outside on a nice sunny day and not at your kitchen table on a rainy afternoon). Ideally, you want an overhead light, a “front light” and/or a light coming from somewhere within your peripheral vision. For example, if you’re sitting on a sofa with two end tables, each with a lamp on, and then there’s an overhead light on in the room, that is perfect!”
1. Use camera angles to your advantage.
If anyone is sure to have the answer to this, it’s Angie Hall, Skype Marketing General Manager. She has been successfully leading a team and working remotely for five years now. Remarkably enough she even used video interviews as her recruitment method when hiring their new Social Media Manager – we can only assume that guy must’ve followed our tips! “Play around with your camera to find a good angle that lets you sit up straight and look confident,” Angie said. “You’ll want your whole torso in the frame so you can use natural hand gestures. If your computer camera sits too low on the table, stack a couple of sturdy books underneath to boost it to eye level—no one will know but you!”
2. Mind your virtual first impression.
“Before the interviewer starts the call they’ll see your profile, so double check that your picture, status, and contact information reflect how you want to come across,” Angie said. “Swap out any crazy spring break pictures or fish faces and choose a recent, polished headshot.”
3. Always, always do a test run.
“Avoid last-minute stressors by doing a test run,” Angie said. “Set everything up for the interview and call a friend to double check connection, audio, and lighting and practice any features you plan to use. While you’re at it, run through a few warm-up questions to calm the pre-interview jitters.” Furthermore, make sure you nail your makeup look and perfect the lighting for a flawless presentation.
4. Make eye contact (ish).
“Just like during an in-person interview, it’s important to make strong eye contact,” Angie said. “Make sure to look straight into the camera lens to give the impression you’re looking at the interviewer instead of something else.” She also gave me this golden pro tip: “if you get distracted watching the little image of you, move it up to the top of your screen where it’s close to the camera lens.”
5. Be prepared to show off your skills.
“If you’re doing an interview where you’ll be required to demo a skill such as writing code or using a certain tool, make sure you’ve practiced how to share your screen,” Angie said. “Before the call, have the appropriate programs ready to go and close out any other windows. Don’t accidentally give everyone a view of a personal email or awkward article you were reading!”
[Related: The Art of Writing a Thank You Note After an Interview]