webcam/microphone and background for video interview

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leeks
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Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2011 4:33 pm
Location: new york

webcam/microphone and background for video interview

Post by leeks »

I have a job interview - via video call - in about a week for a long-term freelance gig and want to look reasonably professional, as if I have this work-from-home thing down (which I don't actually, this would be mostly new for me!). There is another thread about enhancing work-from-home setups: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=277393, but I am at a much more basic level (no $1200 office chairs in mind).

I have a lenovo laptop and the only video calls I have done are Skype with family using the built-in webcam and microphone. I use a fold-down secretary desk in my dining room (no dedicated home office space in our small NYC apt). I don't want to spend much money on a better setup as I'm not sure this particular opportunity will pan out and just a laptop works fine for my current uses (home use, graduate courses, and some other minor freelance gigs that do not require client video calls). I'm primarily a stay-at-home parent.

1. Should I get a separate webcam and microphone/headset? If so, recommendations for not-too-expensive ones?

2. Any tips on background (what you see behind me during the call)? Obviously seeing clutter/kids stuff should be avoided (and kids will be at preschool so no potential interruptions). I don't want to sit at the desk as the the background would include my kitchen sink. I could sit at my dining table with plain white curtains behind me, is that too bland? Other options would be a window to my deck/backyard or a window with closed brown wooden blinds. I don't really have anywhere with blank wallspace other than a basement which does not have reliable internet.
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RickBoglehead
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Re: webcam/microphone and background for video interview

Post by RickBoglehead »

1)No.

2) DR w white curtains is fine.

Wear no pants. Keeps you relaxed... :D
Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.
HoosierJim
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Re: webcam/microphone and background for video interview

Post by HoosierJim »

Ask your family how your built in mic sounds to them. Many times it's tinny or picks up sound from the pc fan. If so - get a headset. Also your paticipants may be quite or in a large conference room and difficult to hear. Turning up the pc speaker volume can sometimes lead to feedback. Another reason for a headset unless people you trust say the pc sound/mic is good. The mic on the headset is more localized and won't pick up annoying background noise.

Been on hundreds (or maybe thousands) of calls and would like to buy a logictech headset for every person that thinks their sound is great.

Also connect to the meeting at least 5 minutes (maybe 10 minutes) before the call to start. Nothing more aggravating than having the convenience (avoiding a commute or even air travel) of a call just to for participants to wander into the call over a 20 minute period while everyone waits and makes small talk.

Wear clothes a notch up from the office people you are talking. SOLID clothes and white solid background to reduce bandwidth requirements (for all participants) You never know how low the bandwidth is for members joining from remote areas or tethering on their phone.

MAKE SURE you have the highest bandwidth possible - use wired internet vs wifi.

More tips https://www.panopto.com/blog/7-tips-for ... -optional/
GT99
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Re: webcam/microphone and background for video interview

Post by GT99 »

Had a series of video interviews last month, and found this to be very helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQwanxQmFnc

Three most important things I got from this:
1. Make sure a light source is in front of you, not above or just to the side. I put a lamp directly behind my laptop camera.
2. Set up your camera so it is eye level or a little higher 0 don't look down at a laptop sitting on a desk. I propped mine up with a stack of books.
3. Look into the camera as much as possible, not at the screen. Gives the impression of eye contact.

And it seems obvious, but check your camera view before actually getting on the interview.
runner3081
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Re: webcam/microphone and background for video interview

Post by runner3081 »

RickBoglehead wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2019 12:21 am Wear no pants. Keeps you relaxed... :D
So true. I worked from home for two years. Took plenty of video calls with a shirt, tie and... boxers.
TravelGeek
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Re: webcam/microphone and background for video interview

Post by TravelGeek »

Turn off cellphone sound and exit all apps that pop up alerts/notifications on your computer to avoid interruptions or distractions (eg, mom calling on Skype to ask how things went *during* the interview). If you are expected to present something from your computer, make sure your desktop looks uncluttered, your browser doesn’t have 78 open tabs etc.
GatorFL
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Re: webcam/microphone and background for video interview

Post by GatorFL »

I work from home full time. I use a wired headset as the audio quality is much better than the laptop speakers/microphone. You also need to check the audio settings in particular. Take Zoom (popular video meeting app), it has audio settings where it "auto-adjusts" microphone levels, which never work. I had to uncheck that box to get it to work properly.

I use the logitech HD pro webcam (under $50) with good results instead of the laptop webcam. I do this because I have a 32" monitor that I use and this way I can look directly at the larger screen.

Most of the popular web meeting applications allow you to join a test meeting to work out the kinks before the interview. For example, here is Zoom's:

https://zoom.us/test

Now for the funny part. I was thinking about the background question and thought to myself, "I bet there is some enterprising person that sells home office background on Amazon!". Sure enough, you can buy your own custom background!

https://www.amazon.com/backdrop-Compute ... B06Y16XKC2

Good luck!
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leeks
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Re: webcam/microphone and background for video interview

Post by leeks »

GatorFL wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:05 am
Now for the funny part. I was thinking about the background question and thought to myself, "I bet there is some enterprising person that sells home office background on Amazon!". Sure enough, you can buy your own custom background!

https://www.amazon.com/backdrop-Compute ... B06Y16XKC2

Good luck!
Gator
That is too funny! I'd rather get a beach background and maybe put a tray of sand under my feet for the feeling that I work from somewhere exotic.

My husband suggested bringing up a folding screen we use in the basement to put behind me to block the kitchen view. I'm going to do a test call using that (would allow me to keep the laptop plugged in at the normal desk location) and in front of white curtains to compare lighting and see which looks better.
megabad
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Re: webcam/microphone and background for video interview

Post by megabad »

I think it sort of depends on the job as to what is acceptable, but when I have interviewed people for non customer facing positions I really didn't care much about how good the webcam shot was or if the audio was perfect (as long as it was loud enough). 480p and loud audio would be more than enough in my book. I would say the single most important thing (other than presenting yourself and skills well) is that the video call functions 100% perfectly correctly. Since you will be remote this would be very important to me. As such, I would make sure your internet is 100% reliable that day and have a good backup (ie. 4G LTE phone tether). I would also make sure you have a backup computer, webcam and headset (if you go that route).

Other than that just test out your gear with the app they will be using ahead of time. I typically call in with my computer 30 mins early, check to see if anyone is on and then if empty I call in with my phone (if possible) and make sure the audio from computer is coming through loud enough and adjust my volume accordingly. I know this sounds paranoid, but for an important presentation I do this to ensure I come off well remotely.
HEDGEFUNDIE
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Re: webcam/microphone and background for video interview

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE »

I did my final round interview for a $200k+ job on my personal iPad, in my car, in the parking lot of a McDonald's. Because the conference rooms at my office offered no privacy and no way was I going to use my work laptop.

Thankfully the Wi-Fi stayed strong and I got the job. Had a nice chuckle about it with the VP afterward.
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