With remote teams and work from home becoming more popular, Skype interviews are a pretty common occurrence these days. They do have some obvious advantages, it’s true. Most importantly, they cut the travel out of the equation, while allowing you to spend some face-to-face time with the recruiter at the same time.
That’s mainly why having a good video presence is important – you want to impress the interviewer even if you don’t have the possibility to firmly shake their hand or dazzle them with your expensive cologne. You need to act professionally, pay attention to your body language and make sure your surroundings look impeccable. To sum it up, you have to do your best to ensure that you will make a good first impression. Take a look at our pointers for successful Skype interviews, below.
- Your profile should look professional
The first thing your interviewer will see won’t actually be you, but your Skype username and picture. Make sure that they are both interview appropriate. A professional username looks more like john.smith, and less like ready2party. Concerning the picture, it’s best to choose one in a professional setting. If you also use Skype to keep in touch with friends and don’t want to change your username or photo, create another account, for professional use only. After all, they are free.
- Check the equipment beforehand
When it comes to technology, it’s always best to be prepared for the unexpected. It’s quite frustrating to make your interviewer wait around for five minutes until you figure out why the microphone doesn’t work. Test the equipment beforehand: make sure your Internet connection is up and running and your camera and microphone are working flawlessly.
- Dress professionally
Just because the interviewer can only see the upper part of your body doesn’t mean that you are free to pair your professional-looking blazer with your Sponge Bob SquarePants shorts. After all, what if you are required to stand up to retrieve some documents? It’s best to treat the Skype interview as an in-person interview and dress the part. Research the company you are interviewing for in advance and figure out their dress code, to make sure that you will look as professional as possible. If you can’t find any information available, you can never go wrong with a suit.
- Prepare your surroundings
When setting up your laptop, make sure that the interviewer won’t see a Hunger Games poster or a pile of dirty laundry in the background. After all, you should be the focal point on the screen. Get rid of anything distracting behind you and make sure you do the interview in a quiet place. A coffee shop isn’t ideal, as it can easily get noisy. It’s best to choose a nice spot from your home or use your home office, if you have one.
- Eliminate interruptions
If you have roommates or you live with your family, ask them not to enter the room while you are interviewing. In the same note, don’t allow pets to wonder around – there’s nothing more awkward than having your cat jump in your lap just as you are talking about how detail-oriented you are. Put your phone on silent and disable any alarms you might have set on your computer.
- Close other programs
It’s easy to get distracted if you get a Facebook notification during the interview. It’s also unprofessional. Make sure all other windows on your computer are closed for the duration of your Skype chat.
- Use a cheat sheet
One of the benefits of having a Skype interview is that you don’t have to memorize everything you want to mention. Arrange some post-it notes with key talk-points around your computer and keep a hard copy of your resume handy. Typing away during the interview, even if it’s just to get to your online resume, can be perceived as disruptive and disrespectful.
- Eye contact
A lot of people are tempted to watch themselves during a Skype session. However, it’s best to look directly at the camera, in order to maintain eye contact with the interviewer. Don’t forget to smile from time to time and pay attention to your posture. In short, act as you would at a face-to-face interview. Keep in mind that the interviewer is able to see you, so never roll your eyes, look away from your computer screen or engage in other miscellaneous activities (like texting, for instance).
It may sound silly to ask a friend to do a mock interview with you, but it will allow you to ensure that everything is perfect for the real one. Your friend may point out that the lighting isn’t particularly flattering, or that you should relax your shoulders more to avoid looking too stiff. They may give you some useful pointers that will help you make an even better first impression when the interviewer pops up your screen.
- Don’t be late
Tardiness is unacceptable when it comes to a job interview, whether it’s a face-to-face one or a video one. Log in five minutes earlier than the designated time to show the interviewer that you respect and value their time.
- Listen actively
It’s important to let the interviewer know that you are actively listening when they talk, especially when they have a lot to say. You can interject listening sounds (“yes” or “hm”) to make the conversation more pleasant, as well as reassure the video-caller that the technology is functioning properly and that you are paying attention.
Following the guidelines above will ensure that your Skype interview will go as smoothly as possible. Don’t forget to show your enthusiasm and thank the interviewer for the opportunity. Good luck!