Put your best face forward – towards the light source – and nail your video introduction.
While a video introduction is nothing new, their importance has definitely increased over the last few years. In the remote world, being presentable on-camera is a necessity, and many hiring managers like to know that you can handle performing under the white hot lights of a Zoom call.
Not only do we include video interviews as part of our developers’ Gun.io profiles–they pop up in so many other places that we thought it was high time to set the record straight on the best way to make your own.
If you’re anything like me, talking about yourself is not high on the list of favorite activities. Sure, I like casual conversation and trading stories about life, but on camera? Alone? Ewww. No thanks. And yet, I know the importance of a skill like this–so I make myself practice.
Let’s start with what to say, because you’re going to want to practice it a few times before switching on the camera. I like to use a basic 3-2-1 outline:
3 skills you’re really great at
2 projects or examples of how you’ve used your skills
1 personal reason why you would be a great addition to any team
It’s simple, it’s straightforward, and it should be easy to write, since it’s information you already know! Now, read it aloud MULTIPLE times. Look in a mirror and say these things. Believe them with every fiber of your being. Or, you know…just be comfortable with the words coming out of your mouth, because we’re about to turn on the camera.
Ready camera one
Okay, you’ve got your pitch down cold. Now it’s time to turn on the camera. There are entire posts dedicated to things like this (including some great camera tips on Cal’s video about prepping for your next client interview) and probably entire blogs unto themselves about video recording, but we’re going to keep it short and sweet.
Clean up your background
Some people are lucky to have a dedicated office area at home, but if your “office” is a desk in your bedroom or spread across your dining room table, there are a few basic things you can do to, as my grandmother was fond of saying, “church it up.” Is the space behind you small? Set a timer for five minutes and clean up as much as you can. You’d be surprised what you can accomplish in that short amount of time.
Is the space behind you much larger, like a living room? Or maybe shared with roommates who are also working from home? It might be time to get creative. This video is going to be short, so as long as you can situate yourself somewhere for long enough to record, you’ll be fine.
Grab a taller stool or chair, and set up a recording area right up against a wall. No tall options? Set it directly on the chair, and sit on the floor! Bonus points if you can do it near a window or open door to get great natural light.
Another option is…the bathroom? Yep, that’s right! Shower curtains are a creative way to make a background, and you can be pretty sure nobody will walk in while you’re recording. Set your computer on the sink and shoot from there.
The idea is that you want the entire focus on you. It’s your time to shine, so don’t let a roommate’s video games or an unmade bed serve as a distraction.
Get the lighting right
I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to hating how I look on camera, stretching my neck to avoid the double-chin bad lighting is giving me or shifting slightly, trying to capture the last rays of good light coming through my office window so I look better. And all of it could be avoided if I would just make a little extra effort.
Try to record your video during the day, near a window. Natural light looks the best, and the more angles it hits from the front, the brighter your face looks. Avoid, at all costs, sitting with a major light source BEHIND you. It will shadow your entire face and body, and it looks awful.
Can’t get natural light to work for you? Artificial can be your BFF here. At the very least, you can turn your computer screen brightness all the way up on a white background! Another cheap and easy option? Your phone’s flashlight. Move it around, take a couple still shots with your computer camera, and see what looks good. Make a note of it for later.
Now we get to the fun part! If you’re still feeling a little unsure about your self-promotion, write it down on a piece of paper and tape it to your computer, right above the camera. This keeps your eyes centered where they’re supposed to be, and keeps you from looking away.
Open your video recorder of choice. Whatever comes standard on your laptop is fine, but if you don’t love that option, Vimeo has recording capabilities and is pretty easy to set up.
Now click record, and share your story with the world! Or whoever is watching you on the other end. Don’t overthink it, act natural, and you’ll do amazing. We know our clients love seeing your smiling face when we present candidates, and showing your willingness to open up a little bit will always score points with a prospective job.
Interested in working with Gun.io? We specialize in helping engineers hire (and get hired by) the best minds in software development.