Interviewing by video conference can bridge long distances, meaning if you’re in a different city or even country from your prospective job, you’re not necessarily at a disadvantage. However, Skype interviews bring their own set of challenges. Here are our top tips on how to ace your next Skype interview:
Give your profile a professional makeover
Ensure your Skype profile is up to scratch now that it will be used in a professional capacity. An unprofessional username could lead to a bad first impression, and you want to start one step ahead if possible. Be sure you use a profile photo, and make sure it’s a professional-looking headshot that clearly shows your head and shoulders.
While you’re at it, make sure your social profile is up-to-date and looking professional too – employers are known to review social media accounts to help with hiring decisions, so you don’t want to give them any reasons not to give you the job.
Test all the technology – and invest in a Plan B
Technology is always reliable until it isn't. Make sure you’ve got a good failsafe in case of a Wi-Fi outage, which might be an Ethernet cable, tethering from mobile, a portable USB modem or asking your neighbour if you can jump on their network.
If you're using a laptop, be sure to have the charger in, and keep your phone on silent to avoid any unprofessional interruptions. Technical difficulties happen – and though they might not lose you the job, it could disrupt the flow of conversation and add more stress to an already stressful situation.
Think about your surroundings
Make sure you find a clutter-free, well-lit space to conduct the interview. Find a simple blank wall to sit in front of, to ensure you are the centre of attention, avoiding distractions like mess, personal photographs, and artwork.
Be sure to test out the lighting as well, even if it means setting up a lamp facing you so that you are well lit regardless of the weather or time of day. Avoid having light sources behind you as it will create hide your face.
Dress to impress
Like it or not, personal presentation is part of a job interview, and it’s one of the things that will influence whether you get hired or not. Like any other job interview, one conducted via video conference requires you to dress your best. Experts suggest avoiding colours that are too bright as they don’t always look great on video – shades of blue translate well and are nice and neutral.
Not only is it important for the interviewer to see that you’re taking the job seriously, but dressing the part (including wearing the right kind of shoes, for example), helps to get you in the right frame of mind. Dress the part, and you’ll feel the part, guaranteed.
Interruptions and distractions can be a problem in Skype interviews as they can make you lose your train of thought, disrupt the interview and seem unprofessional. Close any open browser tabs, and turn off alerts for incoming messages or other notifications (silent and otherwise). If you live with others, ask them to avoid the room and to be quiet during your interview.
Have you ever noticed the slight lag on some Skype calls? That’s often caused by low signal strength on either end, and can lead to awkward moments as each person tries to speak over the other. To help the conversation flow smoothly, wait a beat longer than you usually would to reply – otherwise you could interrupt your interviewer.
Make ‘eye contact’
Video calls are close to having a face-to-face conversation, but not quite the same, so it helps to approximate the in-person experience as much as possible by creating a sense of eye contact. This can be achieved by looking at the web cam rather than the screen.
It may feel strange staring at the little dot of your webcam, but eye contact is crucial in demonstrating confidence. Looking into the camera ensures the person conducting the interview feels like you’re engaging with them. Try not to get caught up staring at your own image, which can make you seem aloof. Additionally, be sure to keep a smile on your dial, stay mindful of your facial expressions and avoid fidgeting.
Be prepared for the questions
In preparing for the Skype aspect of things, don’t forget to be fully prepared for the actual interview as well. You’ll be asked all of the usual questions: why you want to work for the company, what you’re looking for in a career, and what you would bring to the role.
You could be asked some curveball questions, so try and be ready for them. It might be a good idea to work out your communication style so you can talk about your work style.
Follow up afterwards
Make sure you have your interviewer’s phone number and email address to hand. This allows for the worst-case scenario if you need to call them after any technological mishaps, but it’s always good practice to get in touch afterwards to thank them for their time and for the opportunity to speak to them.
For more advice on preparing for job interviews, see our blog posts here.
Remember that an interview is an interview. Being prepared, no matter what the interview environment, will increase your chance of success.
- Prepare the basics – a professional Skype profile, power, lighting and a quiet room. Keep emergency contact details on hand in case of technological mishap.
- Dress the part, smile, and act confident. It will show on the screen.
- Don’t forget to prepare for the interview itself.