These days, we – and our clients – are conducting more and more interviews using Skype. It’s a very valuable recruitment tool, for many reasons, chiefly:
- Convenience – it’s available whenever you have a decent internet connection, at home, in the office, and even in the car (not while driving, of course).
- Cost – one-to-one video calls are free! Calls to non-Skype devices are not free.
- Efficiency – it’s better than a telephone call for shortlisting candidates for jobs.
It’s not perfect, however; most of our clients use Skype for first-line interviews, and will invite you to a face-to-face meeting later. It’s therefore essential to give yourself the best chance of success at this stage. Here’s how.
Skype interview tips
1. Skype Technology
Make sure in advance that your Skype account is set up and that your technology works. This is very important. It gives a bad impression if the first ten minutes of the interview are wasted trying to establish a connection, especially if you are interviewing for a technical role. Use Skype’s in-application tools (Tools – Options) to test your audio and video settings, and make a call to a friend to check it in real life. We always try to do a quick Skype call with candidates before they are due to do a Skype interview with the client, and it’s amazing how often there is a problem.
This is an interview, so dress appropriately, at least from the waist up. Wearing your pyjamas or gardening t-shirt is as much of a faux pas online as it would be in person.
3. Look behind you
The other person will be able to see what’s behind you in the room. Aim for as little distraction as possible, and avoid making it obvious if you’re in a room normally unrelated to work. Bathrooms and dungeons are examples of places not to use. A Skype interview using your phone in your car at lunchtime works OK, as long as you set it up in advance and you let the interviewer know your situation.
Make sure you’re in a place where there is no risk of being disturbed by children, pets, or colleagues.
Remember to look at the camera, not just the picture on the screen. They are never in quite the same place. It makes a big difference to how you are perceived; although it’s artificial, it establishes the feeling of eye contact, which is very important in any social situation, and especially in an interview.
Smile! Not all the time, but as often as you would in a face-to-face meeting.
Remember that everything you do can be observed, so avoid too much ear scratching, yawning, etc.
One advantage of the webcam is that you can refer to notes that are not visible to the other party. Use sticky notes to jot down information you might need, or questions you want to ask. You can use other applications on your pc and still be able to see a minimised picture, but use this feature with care, as it can make you look distracted.
Give your Skype ID to the recruitment company or to the client well in advance. Consider adding it to your cv or to your email signature. Ours is bluespointltd.
Make sure that you are online BEFORE the allotted interview time.
The more you use Skype, the more comfortable you will be using it. This will give you a real advantage over most other candidates; it’s still relatively new, and most of your competition will be making at least some of the mistakes listed in this article.
The Skype interview is as much a real interview as a face-to-face meeting, so treat it with respect, prepare well, dress appropriately, and remember that virtual first impressions are just as important as real-life ones. Good luck!