Skype interviews are very different from the usual face to face. They can be a little awkward at times, sometimes difficult to hear each other, and altogether harder to make a connection and build up a rapport. But you can make them go more smoothly if you know how!
Here are 10 tips on how to ace a Skype interview.
1. Check your equipment
The first thing you need to do is check that you have the right equipment. You don’t have to go out and spend thousands of pounds on a laptop, and even the basic models are equipped with a 1080p camera. However, if you have a laptop but it doesn’t have a webcam, then you can buy them for very little money nowadays. Anywhere between £16 and £30 will get you a perfectly good camera for a Skype interview.
You could also consider using a smartphone if you don’t have a laptop, but make sure you check the quality before you have the interview. Test out your equipment with a friend and ask them to confirm how good the sound and video quality is. This will also allow you to ensure the volume level is also correct, as you don’t want to have to stop the interview to make any adjustments.
2. Choose a quiet place
The next thing on the agenda is to find a quiet place to conduct the interview where you won’t be disturbed. If you live with other people, find out if they might be home and let them know you have a Skype interview. This will help ensure you don’t have someone walk into the room, which could be quite embarrassing.
You also need to consider the noise of the house or even outside. If there happens to be some road works nearby or even a busy road, then you should conduct the interview in a room away from that. And as a final though, think about what will be behind you during the interview. Stay clear of a window which might cast light straight at your camera, and choose a nice neutral background – a white wall with a nice painting, a bookcase or shelf, or anything else which looks professional or appropriate.
Now that you’ve checked your equipment and have chosen the perfect room, it’s time to contact a friend and practice. You must however do this over Skype and not face to face, because although it will still be beneficial to practice your answers, it’s a whole different ball game when conducted over a laptop.
Send your friend a list of common job interview questions or anything you can think of that might be asked relating to your career. You should also look to find any flaws in your CV that the employer could pick on. Don’t hesitate to make the questions difficult and put yourself under pressure.
Finally, in addition to the questions you should provide your friend with a feedback form so you can find out how you did and what you need to improve upon. You will receive far better feedback if you provide a review form as it will help focus your friend on giving specific feedback. If you just say to them ‘how did I do?’ you are not going to get the in-depth review you would like.
4. Look at the camera
If you stare at your laptop screen you will not actually be looking at the employer. The camera is usually situated at the top of the screen, so if you looking a few inches below it will look a little odd on the employers laptop.
Practice talking to the camera and try to forget about what you see. It’s OK to glance down now and again so you can see what the employer looks like. You may be asked to come into the office to meet the manager in person, so you should know who you are speaking with. But for the most part you need to keep speaking to the camera.
5. Dress smart
A Skype interview should be taken seriously and treated like any other, which means you need to dress smartly. Whatever you would usually wear to a face to face interview, go with the same – assuming you put on your best shirt, tie and shoes.
If you choose to dress down then the employer will assume you are not taking it seriously. First impressions count, and although you may be passionate about the role and have great qualifications to offer, you could let yourself down on something as simple as your choice of attire.
6. Close down other programs
You don’t want to have your Facebook messenger ping away every few minutes during your Skype interview, so make sure you close down any programs which may pop up. It could be very distracting for you and the employer if you have to check your computer and close down any programs.
You should give the interviewer your complete attention throughout and plan ahead to avoid any distractions. This includes turning your phone off and not leaving it on vibrate and certainly not a ring tone. Checking your phone during Skype interview is easily one of the worst things you can do. It instantly tells the employer that you are not interested and they would much rather interview someone that is.
7. Take notes
During the Skype interview you should take quick notes. It will show that you are professional and certainly interested in what the employer has to say. But be careful not to take too many notes and lose your focus on the questions. It can be very distracting for the employer if you’ve constantly got your head down scribbling away.
Only take notes on the most important aspects, like the specifics of the role, the location, the structure of the company, or anything else which you would need to help you make a decision if offered a job or second interview.
8. Create a professional profile
A very quick tip here but still very important – make sure you create a professional and appropriate profile. So the email address you use, the username and the photo should be professional and not something silly.
Although you may find it funny, the employer may not share your sense of humour. You should always project professionalism throughout every single communication, right down to the small details like your email address. If you have a wacky address then consider creating a new one specifically for job interviews. This will also help you to avoid any spam and miss any important communications.
9. Positive body language
Don’t forget that the employer can still see you – well, the top half of you at least. So sit up straight, don’t cross your arms, and ensure the camera is zoomed in just enough that your face is not too close or too far away.
Skype interviews can be much harder than face to face to build up a rapport. Talking to a laptop screen can be awkward at times, even for the employer who may have conducted many in the past. So to help push through these difficulties it’s important your body language and tone is positive.
You have to pay very close attention to how you are coming across to the employer, and make sure you are listening and not interrupting. You may be eager to let them know how perfect you are for the job, but that doesn’t mean you should take over the interview.
10. Say thank you
At the end of the Skype interview you should thank the employer for the opportunity, and let them know you are available for a further interview or to reply to any questions. Any hiccups during the interview can be smoothed over if you finish strongly, and thanking them for their time is a great way to do that.
If the interview was in the morning then you should send the manager an email later that day to thank them again and let them know you are available for any further communications. This little touch will go a long way to showing them how interested you are in the role, and it will help them remember you by showing up at the top of their inbox.
For an afternoon interview it would be fine to either send an email first thing the next morning, so you are one of the first communications the manager sees. Again, it’s all about ensuring the entire process is conducted professionally and you give it your best shot and getting a job offer.