The next time you apply for a position, do not be surprised if your phone interview has been replaced by Skype. For employers, the advantages to using Skype are obvious. Video offers far more context for search committees than voice alone and thus more information to make an informed decision. Yet, for applicants the advantages are far less numerous. In fact, being interviewed over Skype means negotiating far more variables than phone alone. Here are some things to consider when preparing for your next Skype interview.
Are You There?
The quality of the connection plays a critical role in the quality of the interview. Bandwidth limitations, camera and microphone quality, and device hardware are all considerations. To help ensure a successful connection, practice with a peer or mentor prior to the interview. Make sure to use an ethernet connection or find an appropriate location with a strong wireless signal to conduct your interview. If you are on-campus, schedule the practice interview at the same time as your actual interview to get a sense of network load or activity. If your connection is strong, but the quality of the video or audio is low, consider using a different device.
What’s That Behind You?
Your environment matters. Try to use a location that offers few distractions for your interviewers. Remove items from behind you or from your walls. If your environment looks boring, that’s a good thing. You want interviewers to be focused on you and nothing else. In a recent interview, I found myself paying more attention to all of the things in the office behind the candidate and struggled to remain focused on what the candidate was actually saying.
Can You Turn a Light On?
Not being able to see a candidate on a Skpye interview is far more distracting than not being able to see a candidate in a phone interview. Make sure your environment has ample lighting and that interviewers are able to see you. Video calls tend to show the environment darker than how you perceive the environment, so flip on light switches, move lamps around, and get used to having a bright area when conducting your interview.
Dress The Part.
You can probably get away with not looking your most professional on a phone interview – though we can debate why I think you should. Yet, just because a Skype interview is a replacement for a phone interview does not mean you get a pass on the professional dress. Furthermore, there is no real disadvantage to not looking your best. Looking the part tells you interviewers you are serious about the position.
I Look Where You Look.
If you have ever had a video call, you know there is a tendency to look at the screen or away from the device, rather than at the camera. Interviewers are going to look where you look. If you look off to the side, your interviewers are going to start trying to guess what you are looking at – meaning, they are less focused on you and what you are saying. Just as eye contact is important in a face-to-face interview, the same holds true on Skype. The catch is, maintaining eye contact means looking at the camera, not your interviewers. This can be a difficult behavior change, but having good eye contact will certainly set you apart from those that cannot.
If you have taken the time to practice your interview, you should have a good understanding of your interview strengths and weaknesses, points you want to make, and examples you want to remember. Feel free to write these things down and put them somewhere easy to see. Take advantage of the environment your interviewers cannot see.
You Are Your Profile.
It’s a little easy to forget, but Skype offers similar profiles to Twitter or LinkedIn. The same rules as any other profile photo apply. Use a professional looking headshot.
It’s Still an Interview.
The same success tips that apply to all other interviews also apply to Skpye. Prepare for your interview. Rehearse answers to anticipated questions. Be engaging and concise. Maintain good body language. Ask good questions. Follow-up.
What tips or suggestions do you have to successfully navigate a Skype interview?