Tips for Video Introductions

So you’re ready to film your Video Introduction? Well remember what’s been said countless times before; you only get one chance to make a first impression, so make it a good one. Your video will accompany your CV so you need to take it just as seriously and treat it with the same amount of care if you expect a potential employer to consider interviewing you of the strength of it.

Creating a strong video introduction can work wonders for you in regards to getting noticed by potential employers, but a weak one can also work against you so it needs to be relevant and concise. Remember that the employer should by this stage already have your CV, so you don’t need to repeat what’s on it in your video. Rather, try to get across the qualities that you bring to the table that don’t show on your CV, qualities like passion, charisma, contentiousness and energy will all help to make you more personable and employable. Think about what you can say, and how you can say it so as to bring across these qualities and catch the employer’s attention. This will help to make the most of the short space of time you have, and help leave a lasting impression.

How to put together the perfect video introduction:

Below are some tips for using video technology to your advantage; the same tips that applied for video interviews apply here, along with some specific tips for your introduction…

Setting up:

Environment and clothing: Make sure the background is simple and clean (not white as this can give off glare); the viewer should be focused on you, not your posters, books etc. as this will only serve as a distraction. Make sure that only your head and shoulders are in the shot and not the desk. In regards to clothing the same rule about white applies; avoid it! Just as with the background this will give off a glare. Make sure your clothing is smart (dress just as well as you would in an interview) and make sure your shirt is plain and not patterned as this can also be distracting on camera.

Face and accessories: Wash your face and make sure it’s not shiny. If you’re sweating you’ll just end up looking nervous and this is not good as your face will produce camera glare in the same way as a white shirt will. One option would be to use a little anti-shine make up; you want just enough to get rid of the glare, too much will just look bad. If you wear glasses ask your optician to install anti-glare coating on them so your potential employer can clearly see your eyes.

Camera position and eye contact: This should be setup looking slightly down on you as this forces you to look up and by default helps you to keep your back straight. You should also be looking directly into the camera and not the screen. Looking into the camera lens means that you’ll be looking at your potential employer in the eyes rather than at their mouth!

Technical prep work and upgrades: Double-check all of your equipment and connections; make sure you have plenty of battery life if using a laptop. Check the sound quality is clear and audible and clean the camera lens as the slightest smudge can ruin your presentation! If at all possible, invest in a HD camera and separate microphone; these are wise investments as the improved quality can really help to elevate your introduction above the competition.

Keep out: Turn off your phone, shut your door and let any family or friends know that you are recording so they should avoid any impromptu interruptions as this will only mean you need to start over or unnecessarily edit your video.

General rules for filming your introduction:

Tone: The way in which communication is conveyed in video interviews and introductions is quite surprising, with 55% coming from the face, 38% from tone of voice, and amazingly only 7% from the actual content coming out of your mouth! If this isn’t enough to tell you that how you say something is just as, if not more important than what you say then nothing will. You need to speak with clarity and confidence. Practice your introduction beforehand and play it back to check your tone and demeanour.

Body language: As the interview will likely take place in an environment in which you feel comfortable you may be tempted to relax more and forget your body language; do not under any circumstances do this! This is the first time a potential employer is seeing you so follow these rules:

Make sure you DO:

  • Keep your feet flat on the floor (this will help keep your back straight and upright)
  • Look directly into the camera lens
  • Lean forward slightly whilst speaking

Make sure you DO NOT:

  • Look away from the camera (for more than a second)
  • Lean back or slouch
  • Fold your arms
  • Wave your hands around as this can be distracting on camera
  • Yawn (try to get a good night’s sleep beforehand to avoid this)

What’s the purpose: Your video introduction will essentially answer the question “tell me about yourself” that employers like to ask in interviews, and should also provide a compelling answer to the other question “why should I employ you?” 

Structure: You want to grab the interest of the viewer by making a strong impression, sharing details about your experience, interests, achievements and goals. Practice your introduction again and again to the point that you feel confident delivering it so that it appears natural and not prepared; you want to exude confidence, professionalism and enthusiasm. It might also be useful to structure your introduction in the following way:

  • The type of position you are wanting to take on.
  • Highlights of your achievements from past experience/employment (the more relevant to the role for which you are applying for, the better).
  • What your goals are, and how you can achieve those goals using the skills, knowledge and experience you have gained previously.
  • How these skills, knowledge and experience can benefit an employer’s business (if you have done your homework on their company and are specific in your justifications, then this can be very impressive)

Remember that this is your chance to draw them in and let them see what they cannot see on your CV.

Sell yourself: As mentioned earlier this video is your opportunity to show off some of the qualities that you can’t show on your CV. Showing passion and charisma can have a lasting effect on a potential employer and be an essential and attractive complement to your CV. Don’t just read aloud your CV either (you won’t have enough time anyway), but sell yourself on your personality, and show energy and enthusiasm within the first 5 seconds to catch an employer’s attention and leave them wanting more (think of your video like a film’s teaser trailer). They’ll be thinking about what you’d be like to work with so get this part right and an interview should be on the cards.

To sum up, the way you compose yourself here will help an employer build up a profile of you, so the way you communicate is essential. You should be appearing confident, energetic and enthusiastic but not take yourself too seriously.

Tailor your video: Just as you would tailor your CV for each specific job, you can do the same with your video. It should be fairly conservative if you’re entering a more conservative position, such as in finance or accounting for example, but you can get more creative with it depending on the role for which you’re applying. If you’re looking at entering TV advertising you can produce a slickly edited 30 second video to show what you’re capable of.

Length: It’s possible that you’ll have enough material to fill a 10 minute video, but it’s highly unlikely any employer will sit through it. Remember to treat this as you would your CV (which should be no more than two pages of A4). You want to keep it short and sweet; around the 30 second mark is ideal but no longer than 1 minute. This short length will ensure that your viewer watches it from start to finish, and they’ll appreciate concise responses to questions which shows that you waste no time getting to your point.

Don’t repeat yourself: You have a limited amount of time to get everything across so use it wisely and stay on point throughout; only mention skills that are relevant to the job/industry you’re applying to and if you can effectively sum yourself in two sentences, then why use five? Lastly do not repeat anything as this not only wastes time, but will make you look disorganized and give the impression that you do not have enough relevant information to talk about.

Fine tuning: It will most probably be difficult to get a perfect 30 second take in one go, so you should learn to edit your video and use the best parts from multiple takes to get the perfect cut.

Look mum, I’m on the Internet: Be aware that no matter how unlikely, your video could potentially end up going viral - so don’t put it up unless you are prepared for this. This is very unlikely, but imaging it happening can help you to avoid being foolish and to stay professional at all times when filming.