In working with potential candidates who are exploring job options in China, I'm often asked why and how candidates should make a self-introduction video. Schools do not always ask for self-introduction videos, but they always appreciate them.
”In many situations, an organization will choose a candidate who has submitted a self-intro video over a candidate who hasn't.“
Hiring a foreign worker is a serious commitment for both employer and employee, and for candidates applying outside of China or from another city, an in-person interview is often simply not an option.
A self-intro video gives the hiring manager who is viewing your application a chance to see you speak, and it also gives them an idea of who you are, your passion for your work, your mannerisms, and your demeanor. In many situations, an organization will choose a candidate who has submitted a self-intro video over a candidate who hasn't, simply because they feel a better sense of familiarity with the candidate after watching their video.
In this article, I'll break down the process of putting together the perfect self-intro video that will help you land the job you've been searching for.
While this is written for teachers looking for work in China, you can make a self-introduction video for any industry.
Follow these steps and your self-intro video will stand out above the rest!
1. Prepare and rehearse
2. Freshen up
3. Dress smart
4. Nail the lighting
5. Use a good camera
6. Record and use your best take
Write down what you want to say and practice, practice, practice until it sounds natural
A self-intro video must be short. As tempting as it may be to make a fifteen-minute exposition of your life, your experience, and your qualifications, it's not practical to send around a file of that size when applying for teaching jobs. The ideal self-intro video should be anywhere from 40 to 120 seconds. In this short time, you want to highlight:
Your background (age, where you're from)
Your qualifications (education, experience)
Your interest in working/living in China
Why you're interested in and qualified for the position
It's important to write up a quick outline and rehearse your introduction several times. Practice in front of the mirror, or better yet, film a few takes and re-watch them with a critical eye. Note any ways you can improve your content and delivery. Are you saying 'umm' and 'er' a lot? Keep practicing until you can deliver your message fluently without hesitation. Are your eyes nervously darting around? Look straight at the camera and deliver your intro with confidence. You might not even realize you're doing these things until you see yourself on video!
Another great way to improve is to practice delivering your intro to a live audience. Grab a friend and ask for their constructive criticism. You may not get the perfect version on your first try, but keep practicing until you can fluently deliver your intro in a short video clip!
You don't have to shave your beard, but you should look presentable
You may think it goes without saying, but let me tell you, as a recruiter, I have seen some horrendous self-intro videos. From unkempt facial hair to serious bedhead, it's obvious that some people need a reminder to clean up before they hit the record button.
“ Don't have your application rejected because you look like you've been sleeping in the woods.“
I've seen candidates rejected simply because "their facial hair is too long". You might think, 'what does that have to do with my teaching ability?' But remember, the employer watching your video doesn't know you or how awesome a teacher you are! There are also cultural differences at play. Beards and facial hair are not nearly as popular in China as in other parts of the world. I've lost count of how many times I've heard Chinese people say "Why are you growing a beard? You'd look much better if you shaved".
Trim your facial hair, take a shower, do your hair, wash your face! Remember that the impression your video gives is likely the only one the school will get before they decide to invite you for an interview or move on to the next applicant. Don't cause the hiring managers to reject your application because you look like you've been sleeping in the woods.
Dress for success, not the gym
Once again, you may believe this pointer should be a given, but in my experience, it definitely bears repeating. I've seen it all in self-intro videos submitted to me: shirtless men, basketball jerseys, and spaghetti-strap tank tops.
Please remember, this video often serves as a preliminary interview. The clothing you wear should be appropriate for any other interview you would attend. In my opinion, and in the opinion of many other recruiting professionals, you should dress like you would dress for a day of work at the position you're applying for. If you're applying to be a teacher, dress like a teacher!
Don't have a full-blown home studio lighting setup? No problem! Sit in front of a sunny window or move outside.
Most cameras don't pick up light as well as the human eye. If your video looks like you're in a dungeon, it may raise unfavorable questions about you as a candidate. Think about what the quality of your video says to the employer. They're not expecting Hollywood-quality production, but if you can't be bothered to create a decent-looking video, don't expect them to give you serious consideration.
Natural light is best. It brings a living energy to your video and helps to put your best possible foot forward in the application process. If you have trouble getting the lighting you need, bring in some extra lamps, change location to a brightly lit room, or record your video outdoors in the beautiful sunshine (as long as its not too noisy). Make sure the viewer can see you and your lovely face clearly!
While this setup is overkill, you don't want a cheap-looking pixelated video either
Be sure to use a high-quality webcam or cell phone camera to record your video. I understand that you have a laptop with a webcam from the early 2000s, but a pixelated video that is difficult to see clearly will hinder the personal connection you want to cultivate.
“Your intro video should show your personality as vividly as possible. Making your video shine will give you the upper hand in the hiring committee selection process!”
Most smartphones these days have great cameras that will do the job just fine. Or you can buy or borrow an external HD webcam and hook it up to your computer. The key is to make a video that shows your personality as vividly as possible. Making your video shine will give you the upper hand in the hiring committee selection process!
Record your intro a few times and pick the best one
Now that you have everything set up, it's time to record! First thing is to check that you're in frame. If you're sitting at a desk, make sure the camera shows your entire face and shoulders and don't get uncomfortably close to the camera. Your goal is to emulate an interview setting, as if you were across the table from the viewer.
Record three or four takes of your introduction, then choose the best one. Remember to keep the time limit in mind, smile, measure your rate of speech, enunciate precisely, be enthusiastic, and show the hiring administrators that you will bring both productiveness and positive energy to the work environment.
Once your video is recorded, you're ready to send it off with your applications. Include it in every application you submit. Schools love them and recruiting agents will favor you over other candidates they're working with, as candidates with excellent self-intro videos are generally more successful. If you really want to take your application to the next level, you can personalize each video by explaining why you want to work for each individual school or company.
Make your video today!
Having a self-intro video is essential for any job seeker in China. By creating a personal connection with the hiring manager at the school or company you're applying to, you give yourself an advantage over other candidates.
“A self-intro video is essential for any job seeker in China.”
If you'd like to see my example self-intro video, you can check it out here.
And if you have any questions on how to make the perfect self-intro video, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(By Ted Solanek)