Lights, Background, Camera: Look Your Best on Video

When recording timed video responses, or in any video interview setting, you want your environment to reflect the prepared and polished individual that you are.
You aren’t going to get ‘accepted’ based on lighting or choosing the right background, the content of your interview responses is what’s most important. However, just as you wouldn’t want to show up to an in-person interview with food in your teeth or a stain or your blouse, there are precautions you can make to look your best on video.
 
Lights
Choose a well-lit environment to take your video assessment or interview. Natural light is a great resource, but for those of us responding in the evening or from a basement, it’s important to get lights set up effectively. 
Using a desk or table lamp, or a window, test positioning the light above your device to shine down on you like a spotlight. Use this light as your primary light. Try turning off other lights in the room or closing blinds that are competing with your primary light.
This is one simple way of setting up lighting, but several orientations can get you the same result. If the lighting setup is too bright and in your eyes, try something else. You need to be comfortable during this assessment, not squinting.
 
Background
When choosing where to situate yourself in your interview, consider how you want to portray yourself to the admissions committee. An unmade bed or cluttered shelf, a window with passing vehicles, or a mirror where the backlight of your screen is reflected can all compete for the reviewers’ attention. If you can find a relatively ‘plain’ wall that’s ideal, but it’s certainly not expected.
No one is expecting you to have a professional backdrop in your home or office.
 
Camera
Center yourself in front of the camera.  Get your camera and screen at an angle where you’re comfortably able to read your screen, but you’re also visible and in focus for the viewer.
Quick tip: You can stack a laptop computer on a few books to raise the screen if that helps bring it to eye-level.
The more you can get your webcam just above eye-level, the better. You don’t want the webcam to be looking ‘up’ at you as that will likely be the least flattering angle of your face, and harder for the reviewer to see your eyes and mouth as you can communicate.
 
Do not sit too close to your webcam. In an ideal scenario, some of the background should be visible on either side of you rather than your full-face filling up the entire webcam screen.
 
Action
When you’re ready to take your assessment: Look at the lens. Resist the temptation to watch yourself.
When you look at the lens, you’ll look more engaged and interested in the viewer. Plus, you risk triggering yourself to feel self-conscious if you watch yourself. While practicing, you can always watch yourself back, wait until then to fix your hair or glasses, or correct any nervous behaviors.
Take advantage of our Practice Assessment as much as you like before acing your next interview or Kira assessment!