By Acara Recruitment Specialist Kelly Daniels
More and more employers are using Skype interviews and other video interviews during their screening process. They may use a Skype interview in place of a phone interview, or after the phone interview before bringing you on-site.
Skype interviews can really be the best of both worlds—you still get face-to-face time with job seekers while cutting travel out of the equation. And while mastering the interview is a common practice, etiquette surrounding a Skype interview is different from both in-person and phone interviews.
Here are some tips you can offer your job seekers so they can rock their Skype interview.
1. Test your technology.
The first thing to do when preparing for a Skype or video interview is make sure you’re comfortable and ready to use your technology (computer, mic, webcam, etc.)
It’s not going to go over well if you hop on a Skype call and the interviewer can’t hear you because your mic is muted.
Make sure to test everything out before your Skype or video interview to make sure you’re comfortable with the technology and the settings are correct. You can do a “test run” with a friend or family member to be sure. If there are any technical issues, you want to know that before the interview.
Should you use headphones in a Skype interview?
Yes. In fact, you should use one if it allows you to hear the interviewer better or if it has a microphone that’s clearer than your computer’s built in mic. When a colleague interviewed with Google and Amazon, both of them recommended that she have headphones or earbuds available for the interview.
Other things to consider from the technical perspective when preparing for a Skype interview:
- Camera Position: Position your computer in such a way that you can look directly into the webcam — because you don’t want to be looking up or looking down during the interview. Look at the camera, not the screen. It is very tempting to watch yourself or your interviewer during a Skype session, but looking directly at the video camera is the only way to maintain direct eye contact with your interviewer.
- Surroundings: Remember your surroundings. When you’re being interviewed, you don’t want the interviewee to see clutter or other people walking about. You need to be the star of the interview; don’t allow yourself or your interviewer to become distracted.
- Lighting: Position a light right behind your laptop or tablet. This will illuminate your face. Because the light could make your face appear shiny, however, you should think about applying a bit of powder to cut down on any unwanted glare.
2. Print the job description and your resume.
This next step in how to prepare for a Skype interview is something most job seekers skip, but it’s a vital part of preparing.
Print out a hard copy of your resume, along with the job posting or description. This is something I recommend for phone interviews as well as video interviews.
That way, you can refer to the job description when answering interview questions. For example, if they ask, “why are you applying for this position?” you’ll be ready to name a few things that caught your interest on the job description.
Other common Skype/video interview questions where having the job description in front of you would be helpful:
And here’s a question where having your own resume in front of you will be helpful in an interview:
3. Choose a location that’s distraction-free.
The last thing you want during your Skype interview or video interview is to have a family member or pet come running across the screen. Find a quiet, distraction-free room where you can shut the door and have relative silence, and nothing moving in the background.
Try to conduct your Skype interview in front of a neutral wall; we think greys, white and anything of a beige hue will be just about perfect. From here, you can let your skills and personality do all the talking.
If you are conducting this from home where family members will be present, consider hanging a “do not disturb” sign or at least warning all to stay clear of you during the Skype call!
Be sure to silence notifications on your devices your conversation does not get interrupted by beeps and pings, too
4. Choose your wardrobe wisely.
Dress from top to bottom as you would for an in-person interview. Sweatpants with a shirt and tie won’t cut it.
Even though it is likely the person at the other end will only see your top half, it’s better to be ready for the unexpected when preparing for a Skype interview, and you may feel more prepared when you look the part.
Additionally, it’s wise to keep your clothing color choice in mind. I recommend avoiding white and black wardrobe choices as they don’t always look as great on camera (this is why news anchors tend to wear colors like blue, grey, charcoal, etc.)
5. Research the company.
Before the interview, research the company and make sure you know how large they are (100 employees? 10,000 employees?), what they sell or how they make money, when they were founded, who their competitors are, etc.
This may seem like a lot but it should only take 10-15 minutes on the company website and can make a huge difference in the quality of answers you give and your confidence level in the interview.
If you follow the advice above before your next Skype or video interview, you’ll be more prepared and have a much greater chance of success.
6. Practice your body language.
Be aware of your body language when you’re doing your Skype or video interview. Previous research by Albert Mehrabian shows that body language counts for a lot during communication.
Specifically, he finds that 55% of communication is done through body language, 35% is done through tone, and 7% is done through words. So, while what you say is important, how you say it and your body language count just as much. Here are some body language tips to follow:
- Avoid crossing your arms during the interview since this can be taken to mean that you’re nervous or defensive and unreceptive to what the interviewer is saying.
- Make eye contact to show you are paying attention — and nod as appropriate. But don’t do either of these things too much as they could be distracting.
- Avoid fidgeting since this can make it look like you’re not paying attention or are overly nervous.
- You’re more likely to make a good impression if you smile than if you don’t. Smiling also helps you talk with more energy.
- Sit forward in your chair since it will make it look like you’re paying attention and are interested. By the way, slouching can convey that you’re bored or disinterested — so avoid it.
7. Know who you’ll be speaking with.
You’re going to be a lot more confident in your video interview or Skype interview if you know some general info about the person who’s going to be calling you.
Find out their name (ask the person who scheduled your interview if you don’t already know) and look them on LinkedIn.
Are they an HR person? Or do they have more of a technical background? This can give you clues about the type of questions you can expect. For example, a Software Development Manager is going to be able to grill you a lot more on the technical details than an HR Director.
Make sure you’re doing this research when preparing for a Skype interview. You’ll be more confident on the video call and better prepared for their questions.
8. Practice delivering your answers.
In the lead up to your Skype or video interview, you’ll want to get as much practice as you can. Find a friend or acquaintance and conduct a mock interview.
Practice your composure, body posture, tone, delivery, and other things that can help your cause. As well as practicing with other people, you should also practice on your own so that you can work on your delivery and confidence.
9. Manage your time.
Skype and video interviews are usually shorter than in-person interviews — however, depending on the interviewer, can take as little as 15 minutes and as long as an hour. My recommendation? Ask how much time to allot and add 15 minutes to your schedule – just in case.
You don’t want to be planning on sharing some important highlights of your background at the end of the conversation only to find time runs out.
So as part of preparing for your Skype interview, write yourself a note or find some way to remind yourself to ask how much time is allotted for the video call.
You could also email the employer (write to whoever scheduled this interview for you) and ask how long it’s scheduled for. They should be able to tell you.
Of course, your Skype interview can go a bit longer or shorter than planned. But by asking how long the Skype interview is scheduled for, you’ll at least know the target amount of time.
10. Make sure the interviewer is engaged.
Stop every once in awhile and make sure your interviewer is engaged in what you are saying. Being aware of the interest level of your interviewer is crucial in a Skype interview since they may have interesting e-mails pop up that direct attention away from you.
11. Follow up!
A thank-you letter is just as important after a Skype interview as it is in an in-person interview. Avoid following up on Skype, though, unless the interviewer requests it!