Now that virtually all of us have video cameras in our pockets, I am surprised by how few career coaches use them to help clients see themselves as prospective employers would. Career coaches are just as surprised when I tell them that my clients come because they know I will record them for this purpose. Yes, really. The story of how video feedback impacted one small group of students in one hour will demonstrate the value of developing a trusting relationship while teaching an important process. Because of the impact demonstrated by students while I was a research associate, I have built my practice around this important process.
A Job Search Team's Video Experience
On this day, like every other, each of six clients in a weekly job search team had a device for recording their image and voice for instant playback. First, I shared how my professional and personal fortunes have been enhanced beyond measure by experiencing myself from the outside as others do. Then I offered to commit the next 50 minutes to giving them the opportunity to get a taste of the kinds of life-altering “aha’s” that I had just described.
They looked back and forth at each other and, gradually, each one gave me a thumbs up. I admit to feeling excited for these young adults along with respect for their willingness to try something new. Most clients who seek me out for my video feedback method are much further along in life. These young people would have their whole careers ahead of them to benefit from the insights they were about to experience.
On the other hand, I would never force anyone who didn’t want to do this exercise. In this case, I had developed strong collaborative relationships with each of these six clients during one-on-one appointments. I would not suggest offering this experiential activity to a person or a group where there isn’t a pre-existing foundation of trust.
The Process and Outcomes
1. Clients chose what they would record and watch.
Option One: pull out drafts of the networking introductions they had worked on, record, then review for five minutes. Most chose another option.
Option Two: review the response they had developed to the question, “Tell me about yourself.” A recording of under a minute is ideal. They spent five minutes reviewing their drafts and making mental notes.
2. They spread out to give each other space.
Each student had five minutes to record their response to my prompt, “Hello, nice to meet you! How about telling me a bit about yourself?” The first “aha” came when students realized their responses were two to three times longer than they expected. No one I have ever worked with has an accurate sense, without practice, of how long it will take them to express themselves.
3. They played back the recording and instinctively turned the volume down.
No one wanted their recording to be overheard. When I reminded them that literally everyone in the room already knew exactly how they sounded, they laughed out loud and broke the tension. Relief lit up their faces as smiles of mutual appreciation ricocheted amongst them.
4. Each participant, when ready, volunteered their new insight out loud.
Their six “aha’s” that forever changed their prospects:
“I had no idea I talked so fast... I’m almost incomprehensible, especially if English isn’t the first language of the interviewer.”
“OMG, my umm’s are longer than a lot of my words. I’d never hire me!”
“I talk unbelievably slowly. Sure, I’m proud to be from the Deep South, but I don’t want them to know it the moment I open my mouth.”
“My words aren’t even in complete sentences. I sound incoherent... like I didn’t bother to prepare for this interview – or worse, like I don’t know my field.”
“I sound and look morose! I’m talking about skills I love using, but look like a total corpse. I didn’t crack a smile even once. They’d never call me for a second interview.”
“My eyes are all over the place because I’m trying to remember what I want to say. If I want to look prepared, well, uh, I guess I really have to prepare!”
5. They spread out again and focused quietly within themselves.
For five minutes they concentrated their attention on an ideal vision of themselves they wanted to come across to their audience. There would be plenty of time for “how to” strategies later. The two who preferred to share their vision out loud teamed up together. I invited them to envision themselves thoroughly engaged, focused, and impassioned.
6. They made another recording and watched it. Each improved significantly.
In the space of under an hour and with relatively little effort, they proved that they could present themselves more authentically and professionally – and bask in growing self-esteem. Just think, they each said in their own way, what more sustained and focused practice could yield!
7. They reflected on what could they shift within themselves so they would come across more in line with who they are. Regardless of the issue, their strategy came down to two kinds of practice:
a) Using words and vocal variety skillfully to articulate their skills, passions, values, and personal qualities;
b) Focusing their minds more fully and for longer periods on the purpose and passion that sparked the employer’s desire to meet them in the first place.
8. Debriefing questions wrapped up the hour they had devoted to this experiment, including:
a) What fears keep you from using video?
b) What is the cost of not questioning these fears, especially when you’re preparing to interview for your dream job or even the one that will pay off your loans?
Video recording is an effective tool that is extremely accessible for independent practitioners. Why not give it a try?
Barnes, A. (2014). Using Video Feedback to Increase Eye Contact During Mock Job Interviews for Transition Age Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders. University of South Florida. Graduate Theses and Dissertations. Retrieved from http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=6374&context=etd
Fukkin, R. G., Trienekens, N., & Kramer, L. (2011). Video Feedback in Education and Training: Putting Learning in the Picture. Educational Psychology Review. 23,(1), pp 45–63. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10648-010-9144-5
Kimbrough, S., Davis, J., & Leah E Wickersham-Fish. (2008). The Use of Video Feedback and Semi-structured Interviews for Reflection Among Pre-service Teachers. Journal of Education and Human Development 2(2). January 2008. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/286969316_The_use_of_video_feedback_and_semi-structured_interviews_for_reflection_among_pre-service_teachers
Moore, J. L. (2015). Using Video Feedback to Increase Job Interview Skills for Young Adults with Developmental Disabilities. University of South Florida. Graduate Theses and Dissertations. Retrieved from http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=6943&context=etd
Roter, D. L., Larson, S., Shinitzky, H., Chernoff, R., Serwint, J. R., Adamo, G., & Wissow, L. (2004). Use of an Innovative Video Feedback Technique to Enhance Communication Skills Training. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Medical Education, 38. 145–157. Retrieved from http://www.tau.ac.il/medicine/cme/pituach/030210/30.pdf
Carlyn Saltman, CDF, Certified Psychosynthesis Life Coach, is a full-time career and communication coach who uses video recording with her clients in her private practice. She developed Video Mirror Feedback® as a Research Associate at the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center at Mount Holyoke College after a career as a documentarian and video memoirist. She is a chapter author of “Polish Your Presence with Video Feedback” from the book, Ready, Aim, Soar! Most recently, she held the position of Career Coach for two years at SIT Graduate Institute. Carlyn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit her website, www.carlynsaltman.com