As technology continues to grow, and as virtual work becomes more accepted, Skype interviews become closer to the norm for many industries and roles. A Skype interview requires just as much, if not more, preparation than you'd take on for an in-person interview. Preparation can ensure that you can combat technical issues, know how to appear well on camera and have a successful Skype interview. In this article, we share some tips for having a great interview via Skype so you can land the role you want.
What is Skype
Skype is a video conferencing program that allows for remote interviews over your computer or phone rather than appearing in-person. You should treat an interview on Skype similarly to one that would normally be face-to-face.
Skype interview tips
Here are 15 tips for a Skype job interview:
- Make sure you have Skype installed.
- Dress professionally.
- Use an appropriate background
- Face the light.
- Sit at a proper distance.
- Arrange the Skype windows.
- Test your microphone and video.
- Take the interview in a quiet location.
- Log in a little early.
- Show engagement in the conversation.
- Take turns speaking.
- Prepare for the interview.
- Maintain good posture.
- Share your screen.
- Record your interview.
Make sure you have Skype installed
If you don't use Skype regularly, make sure you have the program installed on your computer ahead of time. Downloading and going through the installation process can take a long time, so you don't want to do this right before your interview and risk showing up late. If you already have Skype installed, make sure it's updated and you have your log-in credentials handy so you don't have to reset your password beforehand.
Even though you aren't meeting in-person, you should still dress as if you are. That means appropriate business attire from head to toe, even if the interviewer won't be able to see all of your clothing. Look at how your outfit appears on camera, then consider your background and if your outfit of choice contrasts well. Staying in formal attire for a Skype interview will send the message you're very interested in and serious about the role.
Use an appropriate background
You can choose different backgrounds on Skype, which may be fun for a call with friends, but your best option for an interview is to either blur your background or make sure that what is behind you on video is appropriate. If you're taking the call in your bedroom, make sure your background is free of piles of laundry or an unmade bed. If your office tends to be a catch-all room, organize it before your interview so the only thing your interviewer is seeing behind you is a space that's well put together.
You can play it safe by setting up your desk in front of a solid, clean wall that's free of distractions.
Face the light
You'll want to be well lit during your interview so your potential new employer can see your facial expressions, engage with you and ensure the call goes smoothly. If you can, set up your computer so you're facing a window that lets in natural light or a desk lamp that will keep your face illuminated. No matter how it's done, it's important for the light source to appear behind your computer and focused on you.
When practicing your interview, take a look at how you appear in your outfit, background and light source of choice to make sure there isn't a distracting glare coming from any part of your setup.
Sit at a proper distance
During an in-person interview, you wouldn't sit on the opposite side of the room from the hiring manager. You also wouldn't sit uncomfortably close to them. Apply this same rule when on a Skype interview and maintain a proper distance between yourself and your computer camera. When you test your video before entering the call, make sure that your face, shoulders and upper chest are visible, and that there is space between the top of your head and both sides of your body in the shot. The more centered you are in the frame, the better your distance is.
Arrange the Skype windows
To make sure you're maintaining eye contact, arrange the video windows within the Skype program appropriately. When you open the software, the window with your hiring manager's video may be off to the side, so drag it over to be as close to the camera as possible. That way, your interviewer is seeing you look right at them and not anywhere else.
Test your microphone and video
Before your interview, test your microphone and video settings to make sure they work. If you go into the interview with working equipment, you're more likely to send the message that you have adequately prepared yourself for this meeting. Your microphone should transmit your sound static-free and your speakers should work to receive audio from the hiring manager, while your video should be centered and camera clean. To make sure everything is working as it should, visit your Skype settings and perform a test run of your equipment.
Take the interview in a quiet location
The amount of background noise during your interview can affect how well the call goes, so try to set up your computer in a space with the least amount of potential interruptions. Let those you live with know that you'll be taking an important call and that they shouldn't disturb you if they can help it. If there's a chance that an interruption will occur, such as with kids or dogs, be upfront with the hiring manager right away so they aren't too surprised if it happens. Consider silencing your phone and pausing pop-up notifications on your computer too.
Especially if your new job will require that you take customer or client calls or be a part of a lot of business meetings, your hiring manager may expect that you'll have a space dedicated to performing your work that will allow you to do so professionally. However, if an interruption happens during your interview, acknowledge it while remaining calm and focused on your discussion.
Log in a little early
Just as you arrive at an in-person interview a couple of minutes early, you should also try to arrive to the Skype interview early. Depending on the Skype settings, you'll either be able to enter the meeting room before the interviewer, in which case they'll see you waiting once they've arrived, or you'll only be able to enter once the host has given you permission. In either case, a hiring manager will see that you are eager to chat about the role and adequately prepared for the interview.
Show engagement in the conversation
It's common for a hiring manager to rely heavily on body language as an accompaniment to what a potential hire is saying, but Skype interviews aren't exactly the same. Therefore, it's important to work at maintaining an engaging conversation through this platform. This means asking questions, nodding, keeping eye contact, smiling and acknowledging what the other person says.
Take turns speaking
While it's a great tip to remain conversational over video, you still must exercise some caution to make sure both parties hear each other and you both do not accidentally interrupt what the other is saying. Even unintentionally interrupting, like to answer the interviewer's question, can momentarily mute one person's microphone so the other can speak, a feature that can ultimately cause confusion and the need to repeat part of the conversation.
Prepare for the interview
As with any interview, prepare for the role by practicing your answers to popular interview questions, readying your portfolio, making notes of valuable responsibilities or projects that will showcase your experience and looking into the company you're applying with and the role you're interviewing for.
You can also have some questions of your own prepared which shows that you put in the extra effort. Another way to prepare for the interview is by performing a test run with a friend on Skype. This will allow you to test your equipment and get used to speaking to someone over video.
You may also want to read up on how to fix any technical issues and have that information in front of you before starting your interview. If your audio or video goes out or another common error occurs, you'll be better prepared to fix it quickly and get right back into the discussion.
Maintain good posture
Good posture showcases your professionalism, especially in this kind of scenario. While taking a seat in your favorite chair can entice you to slouch, be mindful of the posture you're using during the interview. Instead of sliding down in the chair, sit up straight with shoulders back and eyes forward. You may even communicate better and display more confidence with proper posture.
Share your screen
A significant benefit of a Skype interview is you can showcase your prior work as it relates to the role in a way that an in-person interview may not afford. If you have an online portfolio, ask the hiring manager if you can share your screen so they can see your website, the social media accounts you've managed or sales numbers you have in a spreadsheet. Be prepared with this information in another window so you don't have to spend valuable time searching for it—this will also show that you prepared well for the interview.
Record your interview
Ask for permission to record the interview. Being able to refer back to the interview can help if you expect to have multiple Skype interviews before landing the role. You'll be able to both see how you can improve next time and prepare for the next steps based on information that you and the interviewer discussed.