Agencies are turning more and more to video interviews to accommodate nationwide growth as well as to make for easier logistics of both managers and staff. If you haven’t already made one, chances are you’ll come across a request to film a video next time you’re registering with an agency. So what are important points to keep in mind? What do agencies look for?
As a former booker at a London agency before making the move to Watu, I used to be one of the recipients of our video interview applicants. From the weird and wacky to the downright brilliant, I have seen a lot. And whilst they were wildly entertaining, only a small number could actually be forwarded on to the client. From errors that are easy to oversee – like someone’s knickers in the background – to the more inappropriate-for-client’s-ears type mistakes, I thought I’d share with you the in’s and out’ s of creating a video interview that gets seen and shared.
The Video Set Up
First step is to set the scene. Choose a private, quiet space far from kids, animals, or a TV. Then focus on what shows on screen. Hint: the less, the better. Background props may highlight your personality, but they’re actually distracting from what you’re saying. Not to mention, you don’t know which brand you’ll be representing week-by-week, so what if you have their competitor’s poster stuck to the wall behind you? Best to keep it simple by having a blank wall behind you meaning you’ll be the centre of attention.
Next up, secure your device so that it’s stable whilst filming. This is probably easiest from a laptop, but if using a mobile device, simply use a stand or create one using books or shelves. You want to ensure the camera height is equal with your eyes so you’re looking straight ahead, and not craning your neck or showing the clients a tour of your nostrils.
You’re ready to record, but what software do you use? Almost all phones or tablets have a built-in recording software via the camera button. If using a computer, Mac users can go to imovie or Photobooth, whilst Windows users can use Quicktime, Windows Movie Maker or other options detailed in this WikiHow.
But before you hit the red button, do a check first. Practice answering a question, then watch yourself. Is the sound coming through ok? Is the video clear? Check it over, fix whatever is going wrong, then get started.
What to say in a video interview?
Chances are you’ve been given some guidance along what to say, or even handed some questions to answer. Even if this is totally open to interpretation, do a few practice sessions first. The goal isn’t to come off sounding robotic, but to make sure you’re confident and speaking smoothly. And after saying it a few times to yourself, you may realise a better way of wording things.
If the agency asked you to answer specific questions, answer these as you would in an in-person interview, and remember, even if an agency gives off a ‘fun vibe’, it is still business and clients may not feel the same. Think fun, but professional. For example, if they ask the classic “what is your weakness”, don’t mention that you’re always running late. That’s not a weakness, and it’s definitely not something managers or clients want to hear.
Also, bear in mind the industry. Promo requires confident people who aren’t afraid to speak up, be engaging and have their voice heard. You have one video to demonstrate that you can do so – and what better an opportunity than this? Beats having to fill out another ‘about you’ section where you say how bubbly and outgoing you are.
Presenting yourself in a video interview
Equally important to what you say is how you present yourself. Clients and agencies are looking for people-people…that is, people who genuinely like to, and know how to, engage with others. Body language is a huge part of this communication so here’s how to get it right.
Look directly into the camera and think of them as the eyes of your interviewer. Looking at your screen comes out appearing awkward, as if you’re trying to avoid eye contact (it seems as if you’re always looking down), and looking near your camera but not at it looks like you got confused as to where your camera actually is, or like you may be distracted.
Saying that (and this was one of the more common – and creepy – mistakes) please, please remember to blink! Not blinking leads people to think you memorised your answers, are super nervous, or are just really strange which is not a quality of promotional staff. In short, be natural. Look at the camera, look briefly away (think about it…do you stare directly into someone’s eyes all the while you’re talking to them? Because that can be really intense) and blink. Treat the camera like a person you’re interacting with.
Have you ever had someone snap candid photos of your whilst you’ve been speaking? Notice how you pull some really awkward faces? Video, although fast moving like in-person, has the option to be paused or re-watched, and with the addition of the viewer focussing mainly on your face. In fact, this is one reason why, during photo shoots, models are asking to pretend to talk rather than have a real conversation. Fact is, we can be pretty expressive and this doesn’t come off well on camera. I noticed once after filming myself how many goofy face I pull and maybe I can get away with this in a live interview, but for a short interview clip, my expressions looked out of place. The next time, I kept in mind “smile as a default” and presto, I looked like the more secure, confident and happy candidate that I know myself to be.
Ok so your video is filmed – now what? Check how the client would like it to be submitted. If the question asks for a link, that means you have to upload the video to be hosted on a site like youtube or vimeo after which point you can just paste the video link in the application form. Or, if there’s an upload button, simply upload your saved video directly from your computer.
Keeping it real
Agencies want to see your personalities, your individuality and your vibrant selves. But there’s that fine line between recording a few memorised lines whilst you stare into the camera, versus dressing up in your favourite anime outfit before bursting into scene to show off your creative, artistic self.
With a bit of planning, a clean set up, and a few minutes of effort, you’ll be able to set these boundaries, stay within the lines and yet still let your personality shine through. Even if your agency doesn’t explicity state they will show your video to clients, treat this task with the same importance and with the knowledge that they just might in the future. And by doing so, you just might land that dream campaign.
Photo by David Burillo