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Tips for Virtual Interview Setup

Snaketail

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Hey y'all!

What do we think of setting up a make-shift studio for virtual interviews? I have never interviewed virtually before, but I would imagine that having a decent camera, lighting, background, etc. would be advantageous for an applicant interviewing this cycle (in the same way that proper attire and grooming is a must for "normal" interviews). Clearly, we want to make sure that we are working in a presentable space (no offensive posters on the wall or unmade bed in the shot), but I feel like someone with nice lighting/background and a clear microphone would be perceived better than someone with a grainy laptop camera and scratchy microphone. Anyone have any ideas for setups or inexpensive ways to improve the quality of a virtual interview? Would adcoms deem me borrowing a friend's nice recording microphone or getting a cheap studio light as trying too hard? I've been looking for tips online, and I'm curious to hear if anyone else has thought about this.
 
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SeaHusky

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Probably the most important: Nail down your Ethernet cable with some duct tape, especially if you have a pet that tends to scramble around and disconnect it all the time. I've lost count of how many online meetings I disconnected from due to my roommate's kitten scampering around and pulling out the cord before we finally secured it.
 
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proudofmykids

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Hey y'all!

What do we think of setting up a make-shift studio for virtual interviews? I have never interviewed virtually before, but I would imagine that having a decent camera, lighting, background, etc. would be advantageous for an applicant interviewing this cycle (in the same way that proper attire and grooming is a must for "normal" interviews). Clearly, we want to make sure that we are working in a presentable space (no offensive posters on the wall or unmade bed in the shot), but I feel like someone with nice lighting/background and a clear microphone would be perceived better than someone with a grainy laptop camera and scratchy microphone. Anyone have any ideas for setups or inexpensive ways to improve the quality of a virtual interview? Would adcoms deem me borrowing a friend's nice recording microphone or getting a cheap studio light as trying too hard? I've been looking for tips online, and I'm curious to hear if anyone else has thought about this.
poor images or audio quality definitely will reduce the impression you make during an interview. Deep shadows will take away from any make up or dress shirt you may prepare. Low volume or scratchy audio will definitely take away from the content you wish to convey. Using a standard phone ear buds and microphone should be good enough audio quality. To handle lighting, I suggest two lamps off center and in front of you, at head height, to eliminate shadows. It will look natural to the viewer and it won't cross their minds that you went out of your way.
 
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KnightDoc

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If you are going to be on campus during fall, can you use your school facilities? May be check with your premed office.
Yeah -- I would NEVER risk doing something like this with equipment I didn't control in a space I didn't control. Anyone could take the money they are saving from not traveling to just one interview to buy whatever they think they need (lights, fancy cameras or mics, etc.). Total no-brainer vs. trying to do it in someone's office on campus.
 
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EdgeTrimmer

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Yeah -- I would NEVER risk doing something like this with equipment I didn't control in a space I didn't control. Anyone could take the money they are saving from not traveling to just one interview to buy whatever they think they need (lights, fancy cameras or mics, etc.). Total no-brainer vs. trying to do it in someone's office on campus.
Can you setup all the fancy gear in a small dorm and leave it like that for 3-4 months?
 

KnightDoc

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Can you setup all the fancy gear in a small dorm and leave it like that for 3-4 months?
Yes -- you're not talking about building a TV studio!!! Camera, lights, microphone and background can be set up and taken down in 5 minutes!! What do you think would be available in a library, study center, or advising office in a school? It's not like the conference room in the president's office is going to be made available for you to do your interviews!!! :)
 
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LizzyM

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Here are some very simple--and inexpensive-- tips I've found useful with Zoom.

Have a tidy or at least neutral background. A bookcase with books and knicknacks is fine as is a wall with a piece of artwork. A plain background or a wallpapered wall is okay too.

Do not sit with your back to a window. Sit facing the window so that the light falls on your face. If you don't have any natural light use artificial light behind your camera to illuminate your face but check that it doesn't cast shadows on your face or behind you.

Women: wear lipstick! Being able to see your mouth on video confernce helps a great deal.

Sit about two feet from your camera with the camera at eye level or a bit higher. Elevate your laptop or tablet with some books if needed to acheive the height you need.

Don't lean in; do look up.

Avoid interuptions. Have a "do not disturb" sign on the door if needed.

Close all other browser windows and apps. Ask those with whom you share an internet connection to not sign on while you are doing the interviews.
 
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EdgeTrimmer

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Yes -- you're not talking about building a TV studio!!! Camera, lights, microphone and background can be set up and taken down in 5 minutes!! What do you think would be available in a library, study center, or advising office in a school? It's not like the conference room in the president's office is going to be made available for you to do your interviews!!! :)
schools can reserve a conference room for interviews easily if they want good outcomes. I rather do it from a conference room than from dorms where you don't know who shows up at what time in what state :)
 
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KnightDoc

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schools can reserve a conference room for interviews easily if they want good outcomes. I rather do it from a conference room than from dorms where you don't know who shows up at what time in what state :)
Sounds great -- you can start the online petition to get every UG in the country to spend the necessary money to make the arrangements to host the 1,000,000 or so interviews that will now be conducted online and cannot possibly be done well in the privacy of the applicants' own space. Don't forget all the non-trads, who will require their own semi-professional accommodation so as not to be at an unfair disadvantage. After all, everyone deserves an equal shot at a "good outcome." :laugh:

Trust me -- students (and their parents :)) are far more invested in "good outcomes" than the UGs, who have the law of large numbers on their side when it comes to professional school application cycle outcomes. It's not a simple matter of providing a space for a single kid on a one-off basis. Schools actually spend a ton of money to either build or rent facilities to host on-campus recruiters for job placement. Doing this for all professional school applicants would be a huge, and entirely unnecessary and wasteful expense. Let us know how it works out for any applicant in whom you might have an interest. :)

Also, not sure what "state" you're talking about, but someone living with someone who might ruin an interview while under the influence during regular business hours probably needs to make better life choices as opposed to expecting a subsidy from the entire campus community to pay for a virtual interview center. Maybe the kid needs to travel home instead of traveling to an interview in order to have a controlled environment (or would he still not know who is going to show up at what time in what state?). :)

All kidding aside, I think it's safe to assume whatever arrangements were made to take online exams, and attend online live classes, with video would be sufficient to conduct a virtual interview while anticipating a "good outcome."
 
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EdgeTrimmer

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Sounds great -- you can start the online petition to get every UG in the country to spend the necessary money to make the arrangements to host the 1,000,000 or so interviews that will now be conducted online and cannot possibly be done well in the privacy of the applicants' own space. Don't forget all the non-trads, who will require their own semi-professional accommodation so as not to be at an unfair disadvantage. After all, everyone deserves an equal shot at a "good outcome." :laugh:

Trust me -- students (and their parents :)) are far more invested in "good outcomes" than the UGs, who have the law of large numbers on their side when it comes to professional school application cycle outcomes. It's not a simple matter of providing a space for a single kid on a one-off basis. Schools actually spend a ton of money to either build or rent facilities to host on-campus recruiters for job placement. Doing this for all professional school applicants would be a huge, and entirely unnecessary and wasteful expense. Let us know how it works out for any applicant in whom you might have an interest. :)

Also, not sure what "state" you're talking about, but someone living with someone who might ruin an interview while under the influence during regular business hours probably needs to make better life choices as opposed to expecting a subsidy from the entire campus community to pay for a virtual interview center. Maybe the kid needs to travel home instead of traveling to an interview in order to have a controlled environment (or would he still not know who is going to show up at what time in what state?). :)

All kidding aside, I think it's safe to assume whatever arrangements were made to take online exams, and attend online live classes, with video would be sufficient to conduct a virtual interview while anticipating a "good outcome."
I will leave the online petition drives and budget worries to you :) I am giving out ideas so that everyone gets an equal shot, otherwise I would have given the idea to my kid in private :)

I am sure most schools have study rooms or conference rooms you can reserve and seriously doubt this burdens most schools. May be my kid can leverage the facilities at his school, I will defintely let you know since we became fond of each other and you are not competing with him :) Like dorms not every home is good for doing online interviews, so I can't recommend that either, otherwise you will ask me to start a petition drive for new federal program to upgrade all homes :)
 
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Snaketail

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Here are some very simple--and inexpensive-- tips I've found useful with Zoom.

Have a tidy or at least neutral background. A bookcase with books and knicknacks is fine as is a wall with a piece of artwork. A plain background or a wallpapered wall is okay too.

Do not sit with your back to a window. Sit facing the window so that the light falls on your face. If you don't have any natural light use artificial light behind your camera to illuminate your face but check that it doesn't cast shadows on your face or behind you.

Women: wear lipstick! Being able to see your mouth on video confernce helps a great deal.

Sit about two feet from your camera with the camera at eye level or a bit higher. Elevate your laptop or tablet with some books if needed to acheive the height you need.

Don't lean in; do look up.

Avoid interuptions. Have a "do not disturb" sign on the door if needed.

Close all other browser windows and apps. Ask those with whom you share an internet connection to not sign on while you are doing the interviews.

This is great advice (as are the other tips in this thread...though I don’t plan on starting any petitions at the moment)! Luckily I just graduated and live in a fairly quiet apartment so I shouldn't have to worry about unexpected interruptions that may come with dorm life. Those tips on camera placement are gold! Definitely thinking I’ll invest in a serviceable webcam, as my laptop’s built-in camera is pretty rough. Thanks y’all!
 
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