September 1st

"Tips for a better webcam interview"

Posted by Abby Leafe in Research //

I was asked recently by a colleague if I had any tips for her as she embarked upon her first webcam interviews.  After composing a mental list at the gym, I realized that I had more than enough to start committing them to paper…

  • Set the room:  And by that I mean, tie up the dog and put away your junk.  I recently rearranged my office furniture mainly because my current set-up wasn’t working for webcam interviews.  The camera was aimed right at the window and with no window coverings you can imagine what happened to the image during the daytime.  In other news, I am in the market for blinds.
  • Set your screen:  There is nothing more distracting than watching your own image while you’re trying to moderate.  (You don’t face the mirror in a facility, do you?)  One neat little trick is to open your discussion guide on your computer and then use the guide to cover up your face on the screen.  This approach has the added benefit of ensuring that you are always looking in the general direction of the monitor, where your webcam is probably located.  For a lower tech solution, just tape some paper on your monitor.
  • Invest in a headset:  If you don’t have one, the brilliant Julie Francis turned me onto  They do one thing and they do it fantastically well.  Just call them and they will talk you through what is the best brand and model for your needs.  And they put tootsie rolls in every package!  What’s not to like?  My own headset is a Sennheiser Office Runner and I couldn’t be happier with it.
  • Set your Livescribe pen:  I love, love, love using my pen during webcam interviews, but you have to know how to do it.  Take the ear buds that came with your pen, and plug them into your pen.  Take one of them and put it in the ear that you use for your headset.  A neat little fact about these earbuds is that they can be used for both playback and recording.  So just start your interview, record as you normally would with the pen, and miraculously it all works.  (And if you don’t have a Livescribe pen yet, seriously, do not pass Go, just buy one now. Sorry if this is becoming an expensive endeavor, but trust me, it’s worth it.)
  • Choose your provider wisely:  I think this market is quickly becoming commoditized and one of the main ways that a provider can differentiate themselves is with customer service.  There are some good companies in this space; for my needs I’ve been loyal to the folks at Civicom for a while, because my man JJ is completely unflappable and always takes care of everything for me.  They’re easy to work with, and with a lot of balls in the air that’s worth a lot to me.
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