Employers are using Skype interviews to save time and money of transporting candidates. Some employers are using the Skype interview as a screening tool, similar to the phone screen, with the added advantage of face to face communication. In some ways, preparing for the Skype interview are similar to preparing for the phone and in person interview, such as doing research and preparing your thoughts to common interview questions. The differences of a Skype interview to a phone interview is the face to face time you will get with an employer and your ability to read body language.
Here are some tips to prepare:
- Keep your profile professional – Make sure your profile picture of Skype is appropriate. The picture you use to communicate with your college buddies may not be the picture you want your future employer to see.
- Practice Skype before the interview – Practices with a friend. I had to do this for part of a course, and I was surprised to find out having the laptop on my lap would cause so much shaking. Use a table and sit in a high back chair.
- Watch a funny video before – This will loosen up your vocal cords and help you relax during the interview. I always watch Jerry Seinfeld’s – I’m telling you for the last time.
- Look at the camera, not the screen – The built-in camera on your laptop is at the top of the screen. By looking at the camera, the employer will feel like you are making good eye contact, which is important for any face to face interview.
- Dress for the interview – Make sure you dress professionally for the interview the same way you would for an in-person interview, including you bottom half. I heard of one candidate which was asked to stand, but could not, as he was sitting in his underwear.
- Prepare your setting – Make sure your surrounding is prepared. Make sure there are no busy things behind you, piles, etc. I suggest using a simple light blue background, (avoid white if possible, as it will make your face look darker) with maybe a potted plant or a wall picture. Make sure you are also in a quiet place free from distractions. Avoid back-lighting – which will make you look like a silhouette.
- Test your video and sound – Make sure you test your sound and picture before the interview. You don’t want to start the interview with poor sound or a microphone which is turned off. Consider buying a headset with a microphone built in if your sound system on your laptop is poor. Being able to listen and be heard are key to this interview. In my last interview, I had overhead florescent lighting, which created dark circles under my eyes. I quickly found a poster board to put to the side of my laptop to create soft side lighting, and this cleared up the problem. Test for sound quality with a friend, and ask for feedback.
- Close other programs on your computer – It would not sound good to get email and Facebook notifications during your interview. Additionally, too many open programs could deteriorate the sound and video quality.
- Watch your body language – Just as in an in-person interview, body language is important. Be sure to sit forward, not slouched over in your seat. Show the employer you have energy and are engaged.
- Watch the interviewer/s body language – Unlike a phone interview, you will have body language clues, so watch for them. If it appears that the interviewer has heard enough, wrap up your answer.
At the end of the interview, write down notes, and follow up with a thank-you email, including an important point you learned from the interview.
Please share with me your experience.
One of my readers suggests thinking about acoustic issues – such as echoing or background noise. Warm sources of light, such as from the sun, give the best results. Avoid wearing white. For men (or women) a light blue shirt or blouse works best.
By day, Rachelle, working mother of two, serves as an education advocate and career advisor for MassEdCO. By night, Rachelle provided career consulting and works to promote green energy. When Rachelle is not writing her blog, advising her students, or coaching her clients, she enjoys camping and going to the theater with her two children.
P.S. I got a call for my Skype Interview when I was on vacation – I was at a camp in the Berkshires. I had to ask the director if I could use his office: