These days, I often find myself interviewing with companies on Skype and Zoom. My original setup to prepare for a video interview was simple: I used my laptop with a built-in microphone and camera, cleaned up the area behind me, and I was good to go. While this basic setup worked fine, I began to think about what equipment I might need to enhance video, audio, and lighting for interviews. The more I researched this topic, the more I noticed that most of the advice I found came from YouTube and Twitch content creators. In order for their channels to grow, these are topics video content creators need to address, and over time many have become expert videographers.
What is the best streaming device to prepare for a video interview?
When it comes to video, choosing a video streaming device can be difficult because cell phones can often offer better quality than many webcams available today. Currently, I watch a YouTube and Twitch streamer called Alpha Gaming, and he suggests three specifications to consider when choosing a webcam:
- Resolution: Look for a camera that is equal to, or higher than, 1080p resolution. This is industry standard at this point, and going lower will greatly affect video quality.
- Frame rate: Frame rate, or frames per second (fps) is another important factor to consider. While you may not need as high an fps as streamers do, try to aim for 30 fps or higher.
- Field of view: The last specification to consider is field of view. Look for a higher field of view if you want the space behind you to look larger. You can also make your space look larger by repositioning your camera farther away. The standard field of view specification is 78 degrees. Try googling the field of view for a camera model because this information is sometimes not included.
Always note to observe a side-by-side comparison before purchasing. I suggest you look up examples for side-by-side comparisons on a platform like YouTube. From your research you can determine what image clarity and quality of the camera is right for you. Two suggestions Alpha Gaming provides:
- Logitech C920 (best webcam under $50)
- Logitech BRIO
I currently use a Logitech C922 Pro Stream Webcam because I noticed the image was slightly brighter when comparing against the C920. This runs for around $100, but is often sold around $130-$160 because demand is high.
What mic should I use to prepare for a video Interview?
When it comes to audio, I recommend Podcastage for all your microphone information. They will recommend their own website called FindTheRightMic.com which is a great resource. Frankly, this site offers more info than you need to know, so here’s a summary of the key points.
First of all, I’m going to focus us on microphones with a USB connection. I don’t think many of you will want to buy additional audio hardware to support XLR mics, so I will stay away from these.
On FindTheRightMic.com, they have a convenient chart to help people to select mics. After diving through this chart, I selected Cardioid Condensers as the best option.
Cardioid Condensers work best in a quiet room (preferably sound treated) that is distant from noise outside. Compared to other choices, this type of microphone can be placed further from the subject. This feature is also important to keep the microphone out of camera view. I currently use a Blue Snowball Mic because I wanted to go for a cheaper option and it works fine for interviews.
FindTheRightMic.com suggests using these mics which are under $150:
- Samson C01U Pro
- Blue Yeti
- Audio Technica AT2035
What is the best lighting to prepare for a video Interview?
I recommend that you always think about three point lighting when it comes to illuminating your video interview.
This includes a key light (main light), fill light, and backlight. Think Media has a great video to help you understand how this setup works. Let’s talk about this in more detail.
The key light will either be pointing to the left side or right side of your face. Which side doesn’t matter–just know that the fill light will be pointing to the opposite side of your face. The fill light is necessary to limit face shadows that the key lamp misses. The backlight comes in handy to stand out more by creating separation between you and the background.
Even though you are trying to limit shadows, some shadows are necessary in order to provide shape to your face. For each of these light sources, you preferably want lights that dim. If that isn’t an option, simply move the light back to get the same effect.
Other lighting specifications to consider are brightness. Brightness can affect how far away you can place a light to illuminate yourself, and color temperature can affect the “color of light” shown.
In addition to the video I mention above, I suggest watching DSLR Video Shooter. They have a great video that recommends seven LED lights for under $50. I currently use two Aluratek LED Foldable Desk Lamps as a key and fill light for my webcam setup because I can dim them, and have various color temperature settings.
Some LED lights that DSLR Video Shooter suggest for under $50:
- VILTROX L116T
- YONGNUO YN300 Air
- NEEWER CN-216
- Aputure AL-M9
I hope these recommendations help you start to create space ideal for online interviews. The equipment recommended is what some pros use, or simply what they start with to record content on YouTube and Twitch. To recap, it’s important to look up camera specifications, USB Cardioid Condenser microphones, and lights optimal for a three point lighting setup. Taking advantage of these tips will place your appearance ahead of others in online interviews. Good luck whether you’re applying for your next job, or searching for talent.