This is not the first blog ever written about preparing for (and nailing) a Skype interview, but as video interviews become more and more common, I thought it was important to share some advice for putting your best (virtual) foot forward.
Here are 7 useful tips that I go over with all of my candidates before their Skype interview to ensure they are prepared and ready to succeed:
Desktop, Not Mobile
You can do just about anything on a mobile platform (phone, tablet, etc) these days, but this might be a good place to draw the line.
A desktop/laptop typically provides better quality and dependability in the way of WiFi signal, audio, and video. Yes, mobile devices work well and the interviewer might be happy to be accommodating, but it is up to you to ensure that your end of the conversation is as free of technical bugs as possible.
The impression you give when you fail to prepare is NOT in your favor.
Prepare Your Background
This is huge!
I have had people interview at their noisy desk, in an office lobby, or in their car. None of those places are appropriate. In the same way that you would want to be interviewed in a quiet space, please be sure to show your interviewer the same respect.
Once you have found a quiet place for your Skype interview, make sure that your background is appropriate and free from clutter (is that your laundry back there?). This mostly means that if you are at home, make sure that you cannot see things like your bed. If that is inevitable, at least make sure it is made!
Another note on setting up your environment for a Skype interview: make sure you have proper lighting.
Try to avoid being backlit (main source of lighting is behind you). Your main source of lighting should be directly on or above you. Facing a window often works as well. There is nothing is worse than when an interviewer cannot see you because you did not take the time to turn the light on!
Practice Makes Perfect
This is a time when working with a recruiter would be very helpful. Part of my job is making sure that you are prepared for every interview! I do a trial run with every candidate that is scheduled for a Skype interview. You can prepare by reading all of the articles online that exist about nailing an interview, but when put to the test, you freeze. The best way to ensure you are ready is to try it out. Even a casual conversation via video will allow you to get more comfortable with the technology and the interview format.
Get Dressed For Success
Dress the part – head to toe. It will help you feel more like you are in your “interview shoes” if you actually are!
Dressing for an interview tends to feel natural to many of our candidates, but if you are not sure, just ask. Depending on the culture of the company you are interviewing with, business casual or professional tends to be appropriate for most remote interviews.
Make Eye Contact
Making eye contact during a Skype interview is often overlooked by job seekers and I have found it to be something that interviewers/hiring manager are watching for. Sitting and looking at your computer can be distracting. Try to focus on the camera or the eyes of the interviewer as much as possible. This gives the interviewer the impression of eye contact.
One common mistake that people make when they are less experienced with Skype interviews is looking at themselves instead of the camera or interviewer on screen. I recommend putting the reflection image into a corner so you can try your best to ignore it. Another option is to remove completely! You don’t have a mirror to look at during an in-person interview, don’t let you distract you!
Use the fact that you are not face to face to your advantage!
Have your resume, the job description, and ideally some notes that you might have pulled from their website in front of you. If you are able to reference anything from the website – I have found that to be successful in interviews as it shows your dedication to being prepared.
My final piece of advice is to smile! Not everyone is comfortable in an interview setting, but do your best to come across confident and personable. I think there is a lot of value in the “fake it till you make it” aspect of confidence and a smile goes a long way in this department.
Can you think of anything not listed here that you wish you had known before your first Skype interview? Please let us know in the comments below. Now, go ace that Skype interview!