The Freelancer’s Survival Guide to Video Interviews in 2020

David Yeo
By     October 30, 2020   Focus    Advertising Disclosure

Remember the anxiety we felt as a kid performing on stage? Our parents used to tell us to imagine the audience in our underwear.

 

Now that video-call interviews are rapidly becoming the norm, the tables have turned on us! Video-call interviews can be nerve-wracking but they’re a necessary evil for any freelancer seeking new work from clients.

 

So, for the anxious freelancer, here are some tips to help you confidently nail your next client interview, with or without pants. Here’s what we’re going to cover:

 

 

1. Get the tech stuff out of the way

 

As that age old adage goes “failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. Before jumping right into the video interview, you should get yourself ready.

 

Planning ahead will leave you less to stress about during the interview, so you can focus on making a good impression.

 

First things first, check your equipment.

 

After all, connectivity issues, webcam issues and audio issues were found to be the most common complaints by hiring managers conducting video interviews in 2020. And they’re annoying for you too.

 

So, make sure you’re taking the interview from a spot with stable and fast internet. Then, it’s time to check your mic, webcam and headphones.

 

Zoom users on Mac can check the quality of their equipment by…

 

  1. Go to your Settings.
  2. Click on Video to check your webcam settings – you’ll be able to check what’s in frame.
  3. When that’s sorted, click on Audio to test your mic.

 

checking camera and mic in zoom on mac

Zoom on Mac: How to check your camera and mic

 

Zoom users on Windows can check the quality of their equipment by…

 

  1. Click on the settings icon under your profile picture.
  2. Click on Video to check your webcam settings – you’ll be able to check what’s in frame.
  3. When that’s sorted, click on Audio to test your mic.

 

checking camera and mic in zoom on windows

Zoom on Windows: How to check your camera and mic

 

All Skype users can check the quality of their equipment by…

 

  1. Clicking on your profile.
  2. Going into Audio & Video Settings.
  3. Selecting Audio & Video – the below screen pops up. Go ahead and check each component by scrolling down.

 

checking camera and mic on skype

Skype interview tips: How to check your camera and mic

 

Done? Great. Now, let’s move on to the other big considerations.

 

Let’s start with the most important aspect, your client.

 

 

2. Focus on the client

 

Why? Because your video call interview revolves around the client. That’s the person you need to convince to work with you.

 

A client is searching for a solution to a very specific problem. So, try and consider their needs and expectations, and how YOU can solve it. Read over the job posting again and do any research you can into their company so you can better understand where they’re coming from.

 

Seasoned freelancers know to prep themselves and their tools before a video-call interview.

 

Having a digital portfolio on hand can be hugely beneficial for you and the client, especially if you’ve completed any similar projects in the past. It’ll let you showcase your talents and help the client understand the way you work, and your credentials – so be sure to also collect any glowing feedback from past clients!

 

On top of preparing your portfolio, consider rehearsing your answers to the questions that freelancers are frequently asked:

 

  • What are your rates / will you charge by project, or by hour?
  • What’s your availability for the coming weeks?
  • What tools do you usually work with?
  • How would you approach a project like this?

 

Thinking about your answers ahead of time will help you give a smooth and considered response. Clients will notice your professionalism. In short – you’ll look like you know what you’re talking about!

 

And our last tip on coming across as professional? Double check the timezone of your client! The last thing you want is to miss your video interview altogether because of a miscomm about time difference. It happens way too often for freelancers working with multiple clients overseas.

 

 

3. Pick the perfect interview location

 

A perfect location is an important factor of expressing your personality to the client. The location you choose can potentially reflect your soft skills and interests.

 

For example, cleanliness indicates level discipline. Visual presentation indicates a sense of taste. Personal belongings such as paintings and instruments indicate passion and creativity.

 

Thus, in order to convey a better picture of the image of you to the client, the perfect location must be both functional and a e s t h e t i c.

 

Find a spot with good connection and privacy

 

First and foremost, video-calls require stable internet connection and privacy. Sourcing for a spot that offers both is the baseline for a smooth interview and lets you communicate smoothly.

 

On another note, by facing the door, you are able to minimize interruptions from other people.

 

Now let’s move on to aesthetics. A visually pleasing video-call location would require lighting and a strategic setting.

 

Look for natural light and check what’s in frame

 

You want your client to be able to see you clearly, so look for a well lit location.

 

The best light to bring out your charm on the webcam is natural light. Sunlight is bright, warm to the eyes and can bring out your natural facial features. However, avoid sitting with your back to a window – this can cause backlight and make you look too dark on video.

 

Find yourself a spot with plenty of natural light

Find yourself a spot with plenty of natural light

 

If sunlight’s not an option – just make sure you have a light source directly in front of you, behind your screen (you might need to adjust your screen brightness too, to avoid looking pale and ghostly).

 

And your background? Many people prefer a blank wall or neutral background.

 

That said – it’s not the only option. Your environment can help tell your story and give the client an insight of who you are. Some freelancers like to arrange their space in a way that portrays their personality; a piece of art perhaps? A guitar? Shared interests with the client can make you more memorable, or be a talking point to more informal conversation.

 

However, it’s very important not to overdo it or come off as cluttered – this can suggest you have poor organisation. Keep messy clothes well out of the frame. Even as freelancers there’s such a thing as too much exposure!

 

Remember, it is not about erasing the fact that you are at home, it is about being as professional as you can given the circumstance.

 

 

4. Prepare yourself

 

Freelancing is a competitive field. Chances are, there are numerous other freelancers in your field vying for a contract with the client. The client needs a reason to pick you.

 

Freelancers as a person can be considered as a packaging of their product. You’re not just selling your services, you’re also selling your own image brand.

 

Traditional interviews may be easier to compartmentalize your personal and professional image, but video-call interviews allow you to merge the images together. In a way, freelancers are able to humanize themselves with their clients.

 

How? Well… yes it may look like a formal interview in the video, but chances are you’re both at home in sweatpants. Keep that in mind, and let any anxious feelings pass.

 

Of course, don’t get too comfortable! It is still an interview after all. You will need to maintain your body posture and level of eye contact. Talk loudly and clearly into the microphone or camera. You can show your interest in the client’s offers by smiling, listening and asking questions.

 

This step provides a contrast of your image for your clients. The professionalism that you are displaying against your cozy living space merges to create depth to your own freelancing brand.

 

 

5. Don’t panic if something goes wrong

 

As we all know – not everything in life goes according to plan. If your video interview is interrupted by something unforeseen – don’t let it throw you off!

 

Here are some ways of dealing with the most common problems that occur.

 

  • If your call cuts off
    Keep the client’s contact saved in your phone in case you experience technical difficulties. If the video call stops working, you can contact them through their line. Ask if they are alright to continue the interview on the phone or would they prefer to reschedule at another date.
  • If a random noise interrupts
    If there are noises such as construction or traffic, apologize for the inconvenience and try to relocate to a quieter spot. If that is not possible, try to mute yourself while the client is talking. If you’re waiting for the noise to pass, you can keep the client busy by sending them your portfolio for a read-through.
  • If people/pets unexpectedly walk into view
    In the case that you are interrupted, apologize lightly to the client and deal with the situation as you see fit. But don’t panic! If your children or pets are looking for affection, it reflects on you as a person positively. If you’re in a busy household, inform everyone that you will be taking a call and need some privacy. And you can also inform the client of a potential disturbance beforehand.

 

 

You’re now ready to ace your next interview!

 

By being mindful of your client, the location and yourself, you are able to convey yourself in a professional manner while being comfortable at home.

 

Keep these tips in mind and be it bunny slippers or boxers, you can convince your clients in full confidence!

 

 

David Yeo

About The Author

David is a content creator and freelancer. His journey started with writing songs, poetry and academic dissertations in Vancouver. David has freelanced for multiple companies around the world. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn.

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