9 tricks to nailing a Skype interview
Skype interviews are relatively new on the recruitment scene, but they're a popular choice for first rounds these days. Follow these steps and you'll ace it!
Skype interviews are fast becoming a staple of recruitment processes, and they're not just for those who are looking for work outside of their home city or country, either.
If there's a high volume of candidates applying for a position, a phone interview would generally be the first hurdle.
However, Skype interviews are now replacing calls for a lot of companies, as they offer candidates the opportunity to make a bit more of an impression, without all the time and effort involved in travelling to the office.
Whilst the idea of doing a Skype interview can be a bit daunting, think of it this way: it's much harder to make a good first impression with a phone interview, and being behind a computer screen in the comfort of your own home might ease the interview jitters!
It is, however, a bit harder to prepare for a Skype interview than it is a regular in-person one – here's our tips on getting it right.
9 tips to ensure you ace your Skype interview
Dress to impress
You might think this part isn’t so important since you’ll just be sitting behind a computer screen, but an interview is still an interview even if you are sitting in your own living room.
The psychology of dressing to impress will also make you feel more confident, and will come across well to your interviewer, as it’ll be clear you’re taking the opportunity seriously.
Whatever you do, don’t just dress well from the waist up in the hope your pyjamas will stay out of the picture. We can pretty much guarantee you’ll end up giving the game away when you get up for a glass of water or something similar. Not worth the risk!
Prepare your surroundings
If you’re going to be doing the interview in a public place, make sure you choose your location well in advance, and test it out.
You are quite limited when it comes to suitable public spaces for Skype interviews, as you can’t have too much background noise (headphones will block noise out for you, but now your interviewer) and you'll have to minimise the chances of being disrupted (but this isn't always within your control).
Setting up shop at home is definitely the best option, and if you do go with this, make sure your space is cleaned and tidied up nicely in advance! Choose somewhere that’s facing a plain wall with no distractions, good lighting and make sure there are no pants drying in the background!
You could even throw in a cheeky vase of flowers somewhere behind you for extra brownie points.
Practice with family and friends
Credit: Joe Shlabotnik – Flickr
The best way to lessen your chances of a technical disaster during a Skype interview is to practice on family or friends… or basically anyone who is willing to humour you.
Try out a few different set ups around the house and see which they think is best, as well as different lighting options (not too dark, but be careful with artificial lighting if you don't have natural daylight as this can lead so shadows).
It’s also a good idea to try answering some mock questions to see if you’re managing to retain eye contact with whoever’s on the other side of the screen.
Which brings us to our next point!…
Try to look at the camera rather than the screen
This is actually way more difficult than it sounds, and takes a fair bit of practice. Your natural instinct is of course to look into the faces of your interviewers as they appear on the screen, but the trouble with this is that since your webcam is just above the screen, it’ll appear to them like you’re looking downwards.
Also, don’t be tempted to look at your own image on the screen either! Your interviewer will be able to tell if you’re staring at yourself during the interview, and this can either come across as extremely insecure or narcissistic – and you want neither.
Be prepared for glitches
Credit: Dan Brickley – Flickr
It might be 2017, but the tech is still never gonna be 100% glitch-proof.
There is still a very real possibility that you might encounter some awkward moments where you lose sound completely or the video freezes and you look like you're trying to eat your own nose, but they shouldn't last too long.
Make sure you have a few go-to lines for emergencies like these. For example “I might've looked dead behind the eyes for a minute there, but I promise that was just a camera freeze!”
Professionalise your profile
When was the last time you had a proper look at your Skype profile?
If you normally just use your account for chatting to friends, chances are your profile pic won't be aimed at looking profesh, and it's likely your status or ‘mood message' will be riddled with emojis and nonsense chat.
Make sure you have a good look at your profile page to make sure everything looks interview-friendly, and if it's unsalvageable (e.g. Skype handle ‘littleangel2008'), consider opening a new account for your job hunt.
Keep notes minimal
Credit: Michael Arrighi – Flickr.com
Preparing notes is still crucial for a Skype interview, but just as you would for a regular in-person interview, try not to rely on them too heavily.
It's easy to think that one of the perks of restricted view is that you can hide piles of notes around that your interviewer won't see, but reading from them will only make you appear less confident and will prevent you from indulging in that all-important eye contact we talked about.
We'd recommend having a copy of your CV to hand (so you can glance at it when trying to think of examples of past experience to talk about) and perhaps one or two post-it notes on the wall behind your screen, but that's about it.
And don't be tempted to over do it with the post-its either!
Close down all other programs on your computer
The last thing you could want is for notifications to be going off left, right and centre as friends get in touch to ask how the Skype interview went over various messaging platforms (oh, the irony!).
You’ll need to have your volume on full pelt for your interview, so just make sure you’re signed out of any messaging apps and have closed all other browser windows. Otherwise, any notifications that come through will throw both you and the interviewer off course, and leave you feeling a bit flustered.
Make sure everyone gets the memo
Wherever you’ll be during your interview, make sure everyone in the vicinity knows about it – we’re talking family, flatmates, pets, your noisy upstairs neighbour, the lot.
Let them know what time the interview is taking place, and just ask kindly for an hour or so window of silence.
If your flatmates don’t know what’s going on, there’s nothing to stop them barging through the door singing as they normally do, and it’ll make for quite an awkward situation if you have to explain why there’s a guy making tea in his pants in the background.
Have the above in order and you can be pretty confident that things will go swimmingly. Best of luck!
Having trouble preparing questions? We've got a great guide to the most common interview questions as well as tips on how best to answer them.
For everything else interview related, check out this guide. Don't forget to share any extra tips you have in the comments below.