Thursday, March 20, 2014

Making the Most of Your Skype Interview

In our last blog entry, we addressed the ins and outs of telephone interviews.  Today we are going to address online interviews, using programs such as Skype.  While most people would rather meet face-to-face during an interview, it’s not always possible in today’s hectic world.  Because of an interviewer’s busy schedule or frequent business travel, a Skype interview may be the only choice.  Don’t feel pushed aside if asked to interview over Skype instead of in person – remember that it’s an opportunity to interview in a format that will give you much more feedback than a telephone interview.  Here are four tips for making the most of your next Skype interview:

1) Be comfortable with the format

An interview is not the time to get acquainted with new software, new hardware, or the process of video conferencing itself.  If you aren’t comfortable and at-ease during your interview, it will show.  Do everything you can to make things go smoothly. 

First, make sure you have the necessary equipment.  As technology is inexpensive these days, not having a properly configured setup or using a poor-quality camera is a really bad excuse for refusing a video call.

If you don’t Skype often and are unfamiliar with the program, practice with your friends and family.  Practice until you are fully confident that you won’t seem awkward and uptight with video conferencing.  Test the program and your hardware so that you feel at ease and relaxed during a real interview.

If you are familiar and comfortable with Skype, you may want to create a new account with a professional username to use just for your interviews.  And practice with this account to make sure everything is working smoothly.

2) Imagine you are on the other side

Since this interview is critical to getting that invitation to meet the team in person, you want to make sure that your enthusiasm, energy, and answers as well as questions come through undistorted. 

Test your hardware when practicing with friends and ask them for feedback.  Can they see you clearly? Can they hear you well?  Is the camera pointed at a funny angle?  Take the time beforehand to ensure you are set up properly before the actual interview.

Choose your location carefully.  Test to see if the lighting is good enough for people to see you clearly.   Find a place to sit where there a solid   or business-like background; this will ensure that the interviewer’s focus is on you and not your room.

3) Look professional

Even though you may be in the comfort of your own home, this is a real interview and you still need to have your “game face” on and look prepared, ready, and excited to join this new company.

Take care to choose a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted during the interview. And make sure that people in your household know that you are interviewing so you don’t have distractions (like people walking past or children making noise in the background). 

Dress and groom yourself – it’s just as important to look professional for a video call as it is for an in-person interview.  There are many funny stories out there of people who only dressed well from the waist up who for some reason had to stand up in the middle of the call!

4) After the interview

When testing your equipment, make sure that you know how to use the mute button, and also how to hang up.  And after the interview, take care to make sure that your system is really turned off!  More than one candidate has made the mistake of thinking that a video or cell phone call was over even though they were still connected.  So keep the discussion about the interview for later, when you are certain you are truly disconnected… just in case!