Tops tips for acing an interview on Skype
If you’re applying for a job abroad, it’s highly likely that you’ll be asked to do an online video interview at some point during the recruitment process.
A Skype interview is a great way for recruiters to get a much more in-depth impression of candidates than they can get over the phone – in ‘real life’, 90% of communication is non-verbal, and while video isn’t as effective as an ‘in person’ interview, Skype allows the recruiter to see your facial expressions and body language.
As a candidate, the main benefits of a Skype interview for you are the significant time and cost savings of not having to travel abroad. However, with technology to worry about, many people find video interviews more difficult than a traditional face-to-face meeting. So here are our top tips for acing an interview on Skype.
Before the interview
IT preparation – if you haven’t used Skype before, download it in advance and make a few practice calls to friends and family. It’s simple to use, but if you’re not familiar with it, it’ll just be one more thing to worry about on the day.
Make sure that your Skype name and profile picture give the right impression of you. Don’t choose anything too jokey or informal. If necessary, set up a new Skype account – it’s free, so there’s no excuse for relying on a profile that may be seen to be unprofessional.
Check the position of your camera and computer screen to make sure that you’re making eye contact, and make sure you know who is going to call who, and at what time – paying careful attention to any time differences.
Prepare your surroundings – while you should be the centre of attention during the interview, the recruiters will be able to see the room behind you. An unmade bed or a pile of dirty dishes in the background won’t give a very good impression.
If there are other people in the house with you, make sure they know that you’re interviewing and that they mustn’t interrupt you.
Practise – it may be embarrassing to watch a video of yourself, or to do a dummy interview with a friend, but you’ll reap the benefits by understanding how you come across on camera. Practise what to do with your hands, how loudly to speak, how to manage time delays due to the connection, and where to look to maintain eye contact.
Dress carefully – try to gauge the company’s culture when deciding what to wear for your interview. The company’s website, Facebook page and Twitter feeds are likely to give you a good idea of how employees dress, and if you’ve applied via a recruitment agency, make sure you have a chat with them too. If in doubt, err on the side of smartness – it’s definitely better to be overdressed than too casual.
Don’t be tempted to only dress up on top. Sitting at the computer in your pyjama bottoms might seem attractive at first, but if you have to stand for any reason, you’ll be caught out. And you shouldn’t overlook the psychological angle – being properly dressed will help you switch to professional mode.
During the interview
Smile – smiling is normally a natural reflex when meeting someone for the first time, but it can be harder to do when using Skype. It’s important to remember to smile regularly and keep a pleasant, neutral expression throughout the video interview, just as you would in an in-person one.
Make eye contact – make sure you look at the camera, not the monitor, so that the recruiters will see you looking at them directly. Try not to let your eyes drift around the room.
Sit up straight - slouching in front of the computer will give the impression that you’re not very engaged, or enthused about the position.
Close down all other IT applications– make sure you close down all applications on your computer during the interview other than Skype. Bleeps from incoming emails etc can be very distracting to you, and highly irritating for the recruiters.
Don’t be afraid to refer to your notes – one of the benefits of an online video interview is that you can have notes in front of you. Make sure that they’re short and concise rather than in full prose though as you definitely don’t want to start reading from them verbatim.
Address any technical problems immediately – if you’re having trouble hearing any of the questions, or the connection keeps getting lost, don’t wait for the recruiter to raise it. You don’t want to risk misunderstanding what you’re being asked.
Most importantly, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a Skype interview is less important than an in-person one, and therefore requires less preparation. All the general rules of the job interview apply – make sure you research the company thoroughly, understand the job description, know all the detail of your CV, and practise answers to likely questions.