There’s a good chance that during the course of your job search you may be invited to participate in a Skype interview. But how do you prepare? And should you treat it as a phone or an in-person interview?
This quick guide outlines what you need to know about a Skype interview so you can approach your next one with confidence.
What is a Skype interview?
A Skype interview is also known as a video interview, as it will be conducted via video chat on your computer.
In today’s increasingly technological world, some employers are choosing to replace the traditional interview with the Skype interview to save time and resources. They may also use it as a way to screen candidates before inviting them in to meet in person, or as a way to connect with potential candidates who live further away. Whether you’re expecting to be invited to participate in a Skype interview or not, it’s always best to be prepared, in case you’re offered one at short notice.
Top tips to help you approach a Skype interview with confidence
Test your software and hardware first to avoid technical difficulties
Once you’ve been offered a Skype interview, one of the first things that you should do is to make sure that you’ve got Skype (or any equivalent video technology) downloaded on your computer, have set up your profile and that all the elements needed for the interview to go ahead are working – most importantly, your microphone and camera.
If you’re unsure about using Skype or you’re not confident that it will all come together at the right time, then it’s worth asking a friend or family member to call you as a test a couple of days before. Even if you’re feeling confident before the call, a technical glitch can set your nerves on edge, or could mean that the interview is unable to go ahead, so it’s always best to test first!
Position yourself well and think carefully about body language
Be sure to pay attention to how you’re framed on the screen, for example, making sure that your head, shoulders and hands are visible and that you have good posture and relaxed shoulders to avoid stiffness. Body language and non-verbal cues are just as important as verbal communication when it comes to connecting with others, so it’s important to make sure that your upper body is showing if you want your interviewer to be able to read yours. However, be conscious of making lots of rapid or jerky movements which could lead to you becoming a blur on the screen!
Make sure you look at the camera, not the screen
As natural as it may feel to look at the screen during your interview (as that’s where the interviewer is situated on your screen), it’s important not to look here, but to look at the camera instead. This may feel a bit strange, but it will give your interviewer the illusion that you are looking them straight in the eye, making you appear more confident and assured.
Prepare your surroundings
How and where you position yourself in front of the camera during a Skype interview can really affect the impression that a prospective employer forms of you. Make sure that you choose somewhere quiet, tidy and neutral to take your interview with nothing distracting in the background e.g. no mess, or vibrant wallpaper, so that you can remain the focal point of the screen. Tempting as it might be, avoid coffee shops and other busy areas as the background noise can be highly distracting for both you and the interviewer.
Dress to impress (but not to distract)
As tempting as it may be to take a Skype interview in your pyjama bottoms, it’s better to keep things professional (even if the interviewer can’t see what trousers you are wearing). Often, the way we present ourselves aesthetically impacts our own behaviour and the way we think.
By dressing as you would if you were being invited to attend the interview in person, your body language may appear more professional and confident, which is more likely to convince your interviewer that you’re serious about the job. Whilst, it’s important to dress well, try to stick to neutral colours – nothing that will distract attention away from what you’re saying.
Don’t be afraid to use notes
Sometimes, seeing yourself on screen during your interview can be off-putting and it can be easy to find yourself focusing more on how you’re coming across on screen and less on what you’re saying. For this reason, it can be useful to have a few notes (or prompts) that can help to jog your memory, if nerves get the better of you. It’s best to have these as postage notes on the edge of your screen or easily visible on your desk (but make sure they don’t obscure the camera in any way). This way, you won’t ever have to keep looking down or away from the screen and it will be less obvious to your interviewer that you are using them!
Nonetheless, whilst notes can give you a helpful hint, try not to rely on them too much if you don’t want your interview to sound scripted – as the best interviews are those where you can relax and be yourself.
Make sure you have enough light - but not too much!
Too much light or not enough light can really affect the quality of your video interview. Too much light can be very distracting and may make you appear very harsh, whilst not enough light can leave your interviewer struggling to see you! If you’re not sure how your lighting will affect your interview, then it’s best to test it out ahead of time. You may need to experiment with changing the position/angle of your computer or lighting to get it right.
Keep your profile professional
Your interviewer’s first impression of you will begin forming from the minute they log onto Skype and search for your profile, so it’s important to keep it simple. This means having a sensible Skype name and profile photo that won’t allow your interviewer to make incorrect assumptions about you before they’ve even hit the call button. If you’re nervous about your current profile then it can be a good idea to set up a new account prior to the interview and give them those details in advance.
If you’re using a laptop, make sure it’s plugged in
It may sound simple, but you’re computer flashing up the ‘low battery’ warning mid way through your interview is one of the easiest ways to end up feeling flustered. So make sure you don’t forget to plug it in well before your interview is due to take place.
Close all other tabs/programmes running in the background
It can be incredibly distracting for both interviewer and interviewee if programmes on your computer are flashing up notifications or making noise in the background. Make sure all additional tabs on your browser are closed before the interview starts and that you have disabled any notifications e.g. Facebook, that is likely to cause a problem.
A video chat only allows you and your interviewer to see one another in 2D format, which can make you seem less lively than you may otherwise appear in person. Make an effort to smile wherever possible and try to adopt an animated and interested tone of voice to show the person you’re talking to that you really want the job.
Whilst it can feel like there’s a lot to think about here, the single most important thing to focus on is whether your equipment is working properly ahead of the interview – so make sure that you test it by calling a friend or family member a few days before. It’s best to do it from the same spot you plan to use for the interview, from the same laptop and at broadly the same time of day, then it will quickly become obvious if anything is not quite right. This means, if anything is wrong, you should have enough time to make alternative plans for the day. And what better excuse to give a good friend a call for a bit of moral support…
Have you had a Skype interview recently? Do you have any additional tips that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you at [email protected].