Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How to Prepare for a Skype Interview

I am moving to Connecticut in a few months and for the first time in decades actually have to think about details related to a new job search, including preparing for an interview. I've been quizzing colleagues who have been interviewed on Skype to get their input about how to prepare for a Skype interview (should I ever have to do one), along with my own thoughts as a Skype user ...

1. Be a Skype user long before you actually have to use it for business so you know what you’re doing; get accustomed to seeing others and yourself on a screen in a conversation;

2. Be sure you know how to work the audio and microphone on your computer, and test them the day before and the day of the interview. Have step-by-step how-to instructions on index cards on how to reset audio and the microphone if necessary. Have a back up computer ready to go in the event you have a computer crash or disaster immediately prior to your interview time;

3. Practice with someone and record mock interviews on Skype. This will prepare you for how you want to position yourself for the interview. You won’t want your face to look distorted or take up the entire screen. If you’re a headset user, weigh sound quality against looking like you’re at a radio control center;

4. Consider use of other materials. Some who interview by Skype put sticky notes on their computer, index cards with key points on the table near the computer screen, or have notes on flip chart paper taped on the wall behind the computer. Be sure it’s not really obvious that you are referencing something;

5. Consider the background. What is on the wall and in the room behind you will be seen. Not a good time to show a liquor collection, unkempt counters/desks, or busy street outside a window;

6. Put your pets far away from the camera. I watched a Skype interview once where a cat jumped on the person’s shoulder in the middle of it. It’s also possible to hear dogs, babies and other sounds in the background; and for god’s sake unplug your telephone and turn off your blackberry or iPhone (which are bound to ring);

7. Have water available if you need it, but not too close to the computer keyboard;

8. Dress as if you are at a live interview, because you are. Certain jewelry that flashes may be more obvious and flashy on camera than in person. The search committee on the other end of your interview probably has you broadcast on a large screen - remember they will see every dark circle or flaw, so think about yourself magnified. Eye contact is important even with technology - so look as if you are making eye contact.

9. Like all interviews, listen to the question and answer it. People screw that up all the time, whether on Skype or not. If they give you a limited time for the interview, be mindful of it and plan accordingly when you answer questions – especially very open-ended ones;

10. And finally, technology can go wrong at the search committee site too. You can always offer to continue on a conference call, but those who were able to Skype are likely to have an advantage. It's okay to ask for another Skype interview.

Any tips you have that aren't included?


charlotte@weekscareerservices.com said...

Small, but important...

I'd once heard an interviewer say that without being in the physical presence of someone else, candidates often fall into bad habits. For example, rocking back and forth in the chair or tapping their fingers on the desk.

Just something to be extra aware of when participating in a Skype interview. Good luck!

David M. Patt, CAE said...

Thanks for the tips, Cindy. I've never had a Skype interview - it seems like the worst of both worlds.

You can see the person (good) but you aren't really in their presence (bad).

When job hunting, you just have to find the best way to deal with each venue, accepting that many of them really aren't fair to you or to those interviewing you.

Anonymous said...

I'd suggest using a headset, too. Not nearly as glamorous, but feedback and background noises are eliminated, and I always feel more focused with a headset on.

interview techniques said...

Record your online interview. This is something you can not usually do in the classical interview. But while being interviewed on Skype, you can use various handy software tools to record your call. Doing so, you can later go through your interview once more.