A Skype interview is a core part of the recruitment process for many large organizations. The hiring manager will likely have multiple Skype interview lined up back-to-back, so it won't be hard to compare how candidates perform on screen. It is therefore worth looking in detail at the dynamics of such virtual job search meetings - there are both opportunities and potential pitfalls.
In this blog, we’ll cover several essential components for a great Skype interview including:
- Skype interview tips for questions and answers
- Preparing for the technical side of a Skype job interview
- How to create an attractive Skype interview background
Skype interview tips for questions and answers
Preparing to answer the questions in a Skype interview (or on any kind of video conference) is one of the best things you can do to calm your nerves and maximize your chances for landing the job. You may have already done so in the past for phone interviews, but it never hurts to have a refresher. The novelty of Skype video conversations has worn off, so you should focus on the content of your story rather than the delivery.
Here are some tips to make you as relaxed as possible so you can focus on conveying your skills and experience.
- Find a quiet, comfortable space that has no "foot traffic" and has decent lighting. Having a job interview in a Starbucks or at a family dinner is rarely a good idea. A nice clean out-of-the-way room with a window is a perfect choice. Feeling physically comfortable at your desk and seat is also important.
- If you're at home with family members - warn them beforehand! We all remember that viral video where the kids dropped in on the dad's BBC interview. That was adorable. But not all situations are. Rather avoid showing your potential employers glimpses of your family's daily routine.
- Prepare a notebook, a pen and maybe even a cheat sheet. Just make sure if you're using the latter, the text isn't visible in your webcam video (and don't stare at the piece of paper like a teleprompter, it's there only for emergencies).
- Get a glass of water. This seems trivial. It's not. You'd be surprised at how a simple drink of water can make a difference in clarity of thought and ease of speaking even during a 1-1,5 hour interview.
- Have some notes to hand. The interviewer won't be able to see any prompts that might be next to you laptop. As long as you don't keep looking down at them their presence will calm your nerves.
- Test your Skype privacy settings. Ideally, you don't want the contents of your interview to be publicly available, so double check your privacy settings just in case.
Preparing for the technical side of a Skype interview
No matter how many times you’ve rehearsed the right questions, if the technical side of the interview doesn’t work how it’s supposed to, you could leave the hiring manager with a bad impression through no fault of your own.
Here are some simple tips to make sure your Skype job interview is crystal clear.
- Check your internet connection. Whether you’re using wifi that may have different signal strength throughout the apartment or an optic cable that may have been chewed on by your dog - it won’t do to break off the interview half-way through a hiring manager’s greeting. It’s also not great if half of what you say comes out in a garbled robotic voice.
- Test your microphone, headphones and webcam. Do this well in advance - 15 to 20 minutes at least, since the fiddly nature of audio and video settings can be unpredictable. It’s better to get a little bored waiting than to try and fix your sound mid-call, wasting recruiters’ precious time. Try to avoid using headphones if possible - they can be a little distracting.
- Make sure that you understand how to share your screen if required. There will be an element of interactivity in many Skype interviews so you don't want to be fumbling around. Do a trial run with a friend to run through all the potential scenarios.
- Close your browser tabs and unnecessary apps. Whether you will want to share your screen to show off your portfolio or you accidentally press the “screenshare” button, you don’t want any personal information being shown that you'd rather keep private. You don't want any system sounds being played either. You can't guess all the possible complications, so better play it safe.
- Remember that your cell phone is a source of distraction. Do not conduct the interview from your cellphone, if at all possible. Put it in silent mode, turn the phone screen away from your webcam or remove it from the camera's view entirely. No need to distract anyone by ringtone background noise or someone's picture lighting up the telephone screen.
Skype interview background
A clean and professional Skype interview background says a lot about you before you even begin to answer the first question. In this section we offer some Skype interview tips for making sure your background is attractive and effective in landing you the position.
- Certain rooms are better than others. Naturally a home office is ideal, but even if you don’t have one, try to avoid beds or kitchens in the background of your interview.
- Make sure the space behind you is tidy and clean. You don’t want the hiring manager getting distracted by piles of dirty laundry.
- Windows, mirrors or other bright objects can cause too much light to reflect back into the camera, placing you into a shadow.
- Orderly bookshelves, tables, plants, artwork or decorations can make for pleasant, yet neutral backgrounds.
- Ensure that there are no controversial books on display or racy pieces of artwork that may distract.
- Keep the strongest source of light in front of your face, not behind you.
- Check your background on Skype before the call.
- Wear a color that contrasts with your background.
- Let people or pets walk behind you during the interview.
- Do your interview in a distracting location.
- Do the interview outside where wind or sunlight can affect the call.