Top 5 Skype Interview Tips; And The Mistakes To Avoid
Getting ready for the traditional job interview typically requires some truly routine steps; ensure you’ve done your research, print out and bring along a few clean duplicates of your resume, plan out your interview wardrobe, practice noting interview questions, and always bring along a pack of breath mints.
But in today’s increasingly technological world, the traditional interview is being replaced with Skype interviews.
What is a Skype Interview?
A Skype interview, otherwise known as a video interview, is one in which the entire interview is conducted via video chat on your computer.
As technology continues to advance, more and more interviewers are turning to Skype and video interviews as a way to connect with potential hires. Not only is it a great way to interview people who would otherwise have to travel, but it’s also an opportunity interviewers to get a better sense of who you are, something a traditional phone conversation might not necessarily allow.
A video interview can be both a blessing and a curse to job seekers. On one hand, you’re able to conduct the interview from the comfort of your own home. That means you have all the time in the world leading up to the interview to get ready without having to worry about things like travel time and traffic, or getting lost on your way to an unfamiliar location.
On the other hand, make no mistake, this is a job interview…and not treating it with the same professionalism you would with any other interview is the fastest way to tank your chances with a potential employer, which leads us to our next section –
Common Skype Interview Mistakes
1. Being too casual
Just because you’re doing the interview from the comfort of your home doesn’t mean you get to stay…comfortable. Treat this exactly like you would any other interview, and that includes making sure you’re dressed professionally from head to toe.
2. Not doing a trial run before the actual interview
There’s nothing worse than firing up your laptop for a video interview and finding out your audio isn’t working, or your camera isn’t functioning, or your computer needs to update some driver before it’ll allow the program to run.
Always do a test run at least 24 hours ahead of time so you’ve got an opportunity to fix any issues that might arise…and that means making sure the person on the other end of the call can hear and see you.
3. Not setting your camera’s viewing angle
Speaking of seeing you, make sure the angle the interviewer is seeing you from is a flattering one. Raise your camera up to a level where you’re looking straight at it, not down at it. This will help to give you a more natural look as well as avoid the dreaded “booger” shot.
4. Not being aware of your background
Because this is a video interview, your hiring manager is going to be focused entirely on the screen in front of them. Ideally you’d like that focus to be on you…not on the mountain of dirty laundry you have piled up on your kitchen table or the six overflowing garbage bags from the party last weekend that you forgot to take out.
Or worse, your dog, gleefully scooting his hind end across your carpet. Make sure that you’re not only presenting yourself as a professional, but that you’re doing it in an environment that reflects that.
Set yourself up in an area with good light and a pleasing background. Try to avoid a plain or white background as well as any backgrounds with busy patterns. A home office is always your best bet.
5. Not being focused
Because you’re doing your video interview from home, there’s always the possibility that you won’t be alone while you shoot it. If possible, do your interview in a room where you can shut the door and block out outside noises including children, televisions in the background, or your rump scooting dog.
Try to avoid doing your interview in a busy location like a coffee shop or a café. Above all, make sure you’re paying attention.
An interviewer is going to know the difference between a potential hire who is 100% focused on the conversation and one who is surfing the internet or playing ‘Solitaire’ at the same time.
Top 5 Skype Interview Tips
Now that we’ve covered what not to do, let’s focus on what you need to do to knock your Skype interview out of the park.
1. Be Technically Prepared
Find out ahead of time what video conferencing platform the interview will be conducted on. There are lots of options these days including Skype, Face Time, and Google Hangouts to name a few.
Make sure you have the right software installed a minimum of 24 hours ahead of time and that everything is running the way it should be.
You should also find out exactly who will be calling who and at exactly what time for the interview. The last thing you want to do is be waiting for a call and find out an hour later that you were supposed to be the one doing the calling in.
2. Dress to Impress
We already discussed making sure you’re dressed appropriately for your interview, but for this tip, we’re going to take it a few steps further. Because this is a video interview, you need to make sure you’re dressing in video friendly clothing.
Try to avoid stripes, especially narrow and close together stripes. On camera, they can create a zigzag pattern that is distracting. The same thing goes for very bright colors. Try to choose shades that are neutral or pale. Bright reds, oranges and whites can ‘blow out’ on camera.
3. Natural Eye Contact
Try to maintain eye contact with the camera as much as possible. While it might be tempting to watch what your interviewer is doing (if it’s a two-way video conference) or even yourself in the monitor instead, doing so will result in your interviewer seeing nothing but you looking off to the side.
By looking straight at the camera, it gives the illusion that you are making eye contact with the interviewer. This doesn’t mean stare at it unblinkingly, however! Keep your eye contact natural..and don’t forget to blink!
(A side note…there is always the possibility your interview might be a one-sided video interview which means the camera is on for you but off for your interviewer. Even if you are faced with a blank or black screen, assume they can see you just fine.)
Along with natural eye contact, try keeping your expression pleasant and engaged. Not only will it help convey a sense of confidence to your interviewer, but it’s been scientifically proven that smiling can help reduce stress…always a good thing during an interview.
5. Use your desktop or laptop computer, not your cellphone
If at all possible, try to avoid using your mobile phone to conduct the video interview. Desktops and laptop computers generally have superior audio and camera capabilities compared to a cellphone. IF YOU HAVE TO USE YOUR PHONE (we know, sometimes it’s unavoidable) make sure you have it on a solid, steady surface. DO NOT GO HANDHELD!
Putting It All Together
By following our handy-dandy list of what not to do and more importantly what to do, you’re ready to knock your Skype or video interview out of the park. Just remember to always be professional, be prepared and be the perfect candidate.