How to Succeed in the Skype Interview
As the job search process becomes increasingly internet-based, more and more companies are conducting job interviews over Skype. Skype is an easy-to-use, simple voice and video messaging software that can be downloaded for free. It allows for a face-to-face meeting without the inconvenience of having to travel to meet in person. Skype interviews are particularly common when you apply to positions that are far away. It allows the prospective employer to get a good sense of the job candidate before they go through the expense of flying them out for an in-person meeting.
If you have not used Skype before, it is important that you get familiar with the software before you begin conducting the interview. You will need a webcam and microphone in order to take advantage of Skype’s capabilities. Many newer computers already include these features, but you will want to test them out beforehand to ensure that the quality is up to par. Practice making a few calls beforehand to friends or family to see how well the sound and video quality are. Ask if they can clearly understand everything you say. The last things you want to happen come interview time are technical problems that delay the start of the interview. It’s no different than showing up to an interview late and will reflect poorly on you.
Conduct a Skype interview in the same manner you would an in-person interview. Remember to dress professionally and be well groomed. Even if they will only be seeing your face, get in the proper mindset by wearing your interview attire. Just because you can do the interview lying in bed in your pajamas doesn’t mean you should. Additionally, choose a professional username and profile picture when you set up your Skype account. Just like you wouldn’t want to include firstname.lastname@example.org as your email address on your resume, you wouldn’t want to use it as your Skype ID either. If possible, use your professionally sounding email address as your Skype ID.
Choose an appropriate spot in your house to conduct the interview. It should be clean and uncluttered. The fewer things in the background, the better, so try to choose a blank wall. If necessary, buy some large, neutral-colored paper to put behind you if you can’t find a suitable, uncluttered place in your home to use as a background. Choose a comfortable chair you can sit upright in, i.e., preferably not a recliner.
Find a quiet place where you can be alone during the interview. Just because you are conducting the interview from your home, doesn’t mean you should simultaneously be taking care of your kids or waiting for the laundry to finish. The last thing you want during your interview is any background noise. It will distract you and make it difficult for the interviewer to listen to what you have to say. Unnecessary background noise can look about as bad as having your cell phone ring tone go off in the middle of an in-person interview. If you have kids, have somebody else temporarily take care of them while you are conducting your interview. Consider putting an “Interview in Progress – Do Not Enter” sign on the door to minimize the risk any accidental intruders who may disrupt your interview. Don’t forget to turn off any notifications that may pop up on your computer and make a noise or distract you, such as your email client or a social media application.
When you are setting up your computer for the interview, try to position the camera at a level that is just above your eyes, as this is a much more flattering angle. This may require you to elevate your computer a little bit, for example in the case of a laptop. Prop some books underneath to give it a little more height. Test out the video quality. Sit upright in your chair; don’t hunch over your computer like many people do. You will want your head and shoulders to be fully visible in the video feed while sitting upright. Test this out ahead of time with a friend and ask how you look. Also, ask about the sound and video quality. Make sure there is no audio feedback or echo. If the quality is poor at all, you may need to purchase a new microphone or webcam before your interview. You may also consider using a headset to get the best sound quality and block out any background noise. Make sure to get any technical kinks out ahead of time so you are not struggling with them when it comes time to conduct the interview.
During the interview, practice the same interview techniques you would at an in-person meeting. Try to maintain eye contact by looking at the camera instead of the screen. This may seem awkward at first, but you will appear more presentable and personable to the interviewer. Besides the difference in format, conduct the interview the same as you would any other. Remember, the interviewer is already investing their time in setting up the Skype interview and hearing what you have to say, so make every word count.