A candidate’s guide to Skype interviews
Skype interviews are becoming more and more common and in many cases replacing the telephone interview, and sometimes jobs are even rewarded based on the results of Skype interviews.
Despite this many of us are still unprepared for online video interviews with little practice or preparation taking place. Skype interviews can be a little daunting but with the right preparation and know-how they can actually be a bit easier then telephone or in-person interviews, you just need to know how to make them work for you:
Prep your interview area
Whether you like it or not, you’re going to be judged by the background shown on your Skype cam and you should prep you interview area with a lot of care. If you’re in a room which is messy, dirty, or generally has a sense of chaos about it you’ll immediately lose points with the interviewer.
If however, you’re in a very clean and professional looking environment such as a study or home office, you’ll make an great first impression. Not everyone has access to a home office or study; in that case you should just keep things very minimal, maybe find an area of a room which is very plain or find a spot with nothing too distracting in the background.
You need to be conscious of what is off camera and you should prep your area so that your computer/laptop has somewhere stable to sit on and you look and feel comfortable.You should also have lots of desk or tabletop space in front of you where you can keep any necessary material (reference material, your resume and portfolio pieces), and have space and stationary for making notes.You’ll also want to make sure this is an area which is quiet and where you will not be disturbed. This means turning off any other electronic devices and appliances which could make noise or cause interruptions, and letting other people around you know that you are taking an interview and should not be disturbed.
Dress to impress
Just because you are in the comfort of your own home and not meeting in person it doesn’t mean you can take any liberties when dressing for the interview. In fact, the interviewee will be looking even closer at your appearance, and in most cases you’ll get even more bonus points by dressing professional and showing that you are taking this job very seriously.
If you are unsure how to dress one tip is to look at the company’s website and Facebook page and try to get a feel for the company dress policy. However, if the company seem to have a very relaxed dress code it’s still advised to dress formally unless you have been told otherwise; you’re highly unlikely to get marked down in an interview for dressing too smart or formally.
You should also take care about your generally appearance; making sure your hair is neat and your facial hair is presentable. Ultimately you should be treating this in exactly the same way as you would an in-person interview; in fact I know some people who even like to wear shiny, clean office shoes to Skype interviews and meetings, as even if it may not be seen it still sets the right tone and makes them feel more professional.
A whole new set of body language
Body language is an important part of any interview, and a Skype interview is no exception. While all the usually mannerisms and body language will come into play, you should also be conscious of how you position yourself and how far you sit from the camera.
For starters, you shouldn’t sit too far away or too close to the camera; test out the framing of the camera before you take the interview, making sure you are nicely framed with the top half of your body all in shot (from about your bellybutton up, and about 4 to 8 inches between the top of your head and the top of the shot. You should also sit in the center of the shot with the camera close to eye height. If the camera is positioned at a weird angle or with poor framing it won’t bode well for your interview.
Smiling and eye contact are also important things to remember. There’s a certain art to smiling and eye contact at an in-person interview which can actually be even more important when in a Skype interview.
Try to remember to smile at the start of the interview, especially during introductions, and give occasional smiles throughout, especially when listening to the interviewer.
As for eye contact, try to keep you gaze on the interviewer on screen for the majority of the time, this will be picked up by the interviewer (as long as your camera is set just above your screen).Resist the temptation to get distracted by things in your room or spending too long looking at your notes.
It’s not cheating if you don’t get caught!
One of the big advantages of having a Skype interview is being able to keep lots of notes and references right in front of you while also out of sight.Don’t be afraid to keep a list of cheat notes, facts, and things you want to mention during the interview. As long as you don’t spend too much time staring at your notes the interviewer won’t be distracted and you will come across as being very well prepared.
Along with notes and a check list of things you want to cover in your interview you should also keep a copy of your resume and portfolio close at hand.
It’s also worth printing out any key information about the company you might want to refer to and a set of talking points or questions to ask the interviewer at the end. The trick is to keep these notes pinned up in front of you or close to the camera/screen so you don’t have to make any large eye/head movements to view them, and do so with fairly quick glances.
Prepare for any tech problems
Be sure to check that you have all the relevant software updates for your computer and Skype, make sure that your mic and speakers are working fine, and that you have a reliable internet connection. It can be rather embarrassing having tech problems during an online interview so do everything you can to avoid your computer or internet playing up.
Obviously you can’t always avoid tech problems so try to have an emergency solution, such as a smart phone at hand. If you are experiencing problems at your end but the interviewer doesn’t seem to be having any difficulties, make sure to speak up and let them know that things aren’t working; putting on a brave face and not speaking up when the audio is cutting out or your connection keeps fading will likely mean missing key information and looking a bit silly, so speak up before it’s too late!
Remember, practice makes perfect, and just as you would practice an in-person interview, it’s a good idea to ask a friend to help you practice a Skype interview. Good luck!