OK, maybe its not so much dreaded as it is frequently botched. So for our third installment talking about the internet and the job search lets talk about how to successfully navigate a Skype interview.
Typically you will be doing a Skype interview if, for one reason or another, you can’t be physically present for your interview. Keep in mind that Skype interview will not necessarily use the webcam, especially if they are intercontinental calls. If your particular interview is not using the webcam the traditional tips and tricks used for a telephone interview will work as well. We will probably cover the basics of a telephone interview in a different post.
For the purposes of this post lets take it as a given that your Skype interview is also a video interview. With that in mind, here are some general hints to use to increase your chances of having an outstanding Skype interview:
1 – Verify your timezone
One of the main reasons for an interview to be conducted on Skype is that the interviewee (you) can’t travel to meet with the interviewer in person. In some cases the distance may be big enough that you and the interviewer are in different time zones. Make sure that you are aware of what timezone your interviewer is in and that you are 100% sure what time the interview will be taking place in /your/ timezone. For example, if you live in Florida and you are having a Skype interview with a corporate recruiter in California 4:00 PM for the recruiter will be 7:00 PM for you. Missing the interview (or even worse, calling them 3 hours early trying to figure out why they haven’t called you) because you forgot about the time differential will be embarrassing at best and will most likely lose you a job.
2 – Pro check your Skype username and profile picture
By ‘pro check’ I mean that you should verify that your username and profile picture are both appropriate for a professional interview. If they are not either change them or open a new Skype account using a professional username and profile picture. For tips of picking professional pictures and creating professional usernames check out The Job Search and The Internet: How To Choose Your LinkedIn Picture and Twitter: The Hidden Job Search Tool respectively. OH, and extra hint? Do this now, before you are asked to do a Skype interview, so you don’t have to tell your prospective employer you need to get back to them with your Skype information.
3 – Test your tech!
The day of the interview use Skype to call a friend. Use this call to verify your connection, that your webcam is working properly, that your sound is working and the proper microphone is active, that your connection is stable… Generally, ensure that all the technology involved is working appropriately. And, please, make this test call early enough so that you have the time to fix or replace anything that malfunctions.
4 – Invest in a good microphone
Yes, most modern webcams have built in microphones. But almost without exception the pick up on the built in microphones is horrible forcing you to either sit too close to the camera or to speak too loudly (which affects your tone and inflection). If you are interviewing for a position in the computer technology sector you may be able to get away with using a headset but, to be on the safe side, I would highly recommend spending the money to get a high quality microphone. They start at about $20 on Amazon and you can get some excellent ones for this kind of use for as little as $50.
5 – Location, location, location
Its hard to stress how important the location you choose to take the call in can be. Make sure its a quiet area were the possibilities of being interrupted are slim-to-none. If you can find it you should be having the interview in a small, carpeted room with furniture and decorations on the walls since empty rooms tend to echo in an unpleasant way and the bigger the room the worse this problem becomes.
6 – And speaking of decorations…
Remember that the person on the other side of the connection can see what’s behind you. Sitting with your back to a blank wall can make for a very boring setting. However, if you decide to have decorations behind you make sure that there is nothing that could be considered inappropriate. In other words definitely make sure that there are absolutely no suggestive posters/decorations, obvious trash, and absolutely no alcohol bottles or drug paraphernalia behind you. Less concerning but also items to be careful with are things like action figures, stuffed animals, game consoles, TVs (and if a TV is in the shot, for goodness sake, at least make sure its completely off, not just muted), religious decorations, etc. To make a long story short, set up the area behind you so that it looks pleasant but professional.
7 – Keep the camera at eye level and at arms length
If your camera is not at eye level with your regular set-up use boxes or books to prop it up so that when you’re sitting with good posture your camera is right in line with your eyes. When Skype is running the person on the other side of the screen should see you from about the mid-arm up. If your shoulders are not visible you’re too close to the camera, if anything below the chest is showing you are too far away. This is another thing calling a friend ahead of time can help you set up correctly.
8 – Be the best you you can be
Just like you’ve prepared the background behind you you need to make sure you are presentable. Treat your wardrobe choices the same way you would treat them if you were going to have the interview in person. Here are some quick handouts that can help you look your best: Dress for Success (Women) & Dress for Success (Men). Also make sure that when you are speaking to the interviewer you are looking directly at the camera, not the computer screen, and that you are speaking loud enough, smiling, and keeping good posture.
If you would like more information or to see this information in a video format check out: