9 tricks to nailing a Skype interview
Skype interviews are a popular choice for the first stage of the recruitment process. But don't let the screen unnerve you! Here are nine hacks that'll ensure you become candidate numero uno.
For jobs located both at home and abroad, Skype interviews have become a popular option for companies wanting to find the perfect employee sharpish.
A phone interview is generally the first hurdle if there's a high volume of applications.
But, employers sometimes choose Skype as the first means of contact as it gives candidates the opportunity to make more of an impression without 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! Besides, you already impressed 'em with your cover letter!
However, preparing for a Skype interview is slightly different than preparing for a regular in-person one – here are 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 and even if the position is part-time.
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!
Scope out a suitable location
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 not 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 idea. 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!
Why not throw in a cheeky vase of flowers somewhere behind you for extra brownie points?
Practice with family and friends
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 setups 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 to 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!...
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 look 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
Yes, we did say the best way to avoid mishaps was to practice in advance, but tech is never 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.
Your interviewer will without a doubt be expecting a few bumps in the road so stay calm, but do address the problem if it persists for more than a few seconds. If it happens repeatedly suggest hanging up and starting the call again.
Make your Skype profile look professional
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.
It probably wouldn't hurt to give yourself a Google either to make sure your online persona looks professional across all platforms, including social media. You don't want the first image under your name to be a dodgy photo of 15-year-old you rockin' an emo cut!
Keep notes to a minimum
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 a 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 relevant work experience/qualifications/extra-curricular activities 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 overdo it with the post-its either!
Close down all other programmes on your devices
The last thing you 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.
The same goes for your phone — switch it off or put in on silent. We know you have a buzzing social life but your interviewer won't appreciate your phone vibrating every three minutes!
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.