Skype interviews have become a common feature of the recruitment process, so don’t be surprised if your prospective employer suggests a virtual meet-up ahead of a face-to-face interview. Instead, use these steps to prepare your brilliant (virtual) first impression.
1. Set the scene
First and foremost, think about where you are going to have your Skype interview – your home office? Your bedroom? Your kitchen? Wherever you choose, the lighting must be right – try to avoid direct light sources or bright objects behind you as this will create a shadowy silhouette. Think about what the interviewer will see in frame when looking behind you. The background needs to be clear and not distracting. The interviewer’s attention needs to be firmly on you.
Once you have set up your ‘interview room’, make sure you’re not risking family, friends or even pets walking in when the interview is taking place. Let them know ahead of time that you have an interview, and then close the door to keep out any external noise.
2. Test it out
The day before your Skype interview, have a test run. Organise a test call with a family member, friend or use the automated playback feature – this will ensure that the camera and microphone both work. Run through some interview questions and answers and ask the family member or friend to provide you with any feedback.
It’ll probably feel strange doing this. However, video recording yourself speaking your interview answers out loud is a great way to check your body language. It also gives you a final opportunity to test your Skype settings, the lighting and sound quality. You won’t want to suddenly become aware of these issues during the interview itself!
4. Make your account more professional
The first thing that your interviewer will see is your Skype profile photo and username, so ensure both are suitable and depict you in a professional light. If you already have a personal Skype account, you could create a new account you can use just for interviewing.
5. Keep notes off screen
Before the interview, print off your CV and prepare questions to ask at the end. Make sure your notes are out of shot but clearly visible to you to use as springboards or prompts. This will help limit the risk of being tempted to look down and simply read from your CV, thus not maintaining eye contact with the interviewer.
On interview day…
6. Get in early
Treat the Skype call the same way you would a conventional interview – turn up early. Start the program up and have everything in place at least 10 minutes before the interview start time. This will ensure you are ready and waiting when the interviewer dials in – the last thing you want to do is keep the interviewer waiting.
7. Dress for the job you want
Whilst you may be taking the Skype interview from the comfort of your own home, you should still dress as you would for a face-to-face interview – even on your lower half (you never know if you’ll need to stand up!).
Getting fully dressed up for the interview makes you look professional, but also helps to put you in the right mindset for a formal conversation with a potential employer.
8. Be engaged
Try to forget that you’re talking to a screen, react to your interviewer as you would in person, by nodding and agreeing, keeping your body language positive and engaging. However don’t overdo it, and be careful not to come across as unnaturally animated.
9. Keep calm, carry on
Even if you’ve done all the above perfectly, you’re still at the mercy of the machine. Tech problems or issues with your internet connection may occur at any time. It’s important in these situations to stay calm. How you react when things don’t go as planned will reveal to your employer your ability to calmly and proactively tackle difficult situations. Have an alternative contact detail – a phone number or email address – on standby in case things go awry and you need to continue over a different channel.
10. Follow up
After the interview, send a quick email via your recruiter to say you enjoyed talking to them and learning about the role and the company. Reinforce your interest in the role and say that you look forward to hearing from them soon. This sets you up nicely for the next conversation.
Skype and other video interviews are becoming very standard, so it’s useful to remember these points and establish your own way of interviewing comfortably over the internet. Through dedicated preparation and planning, you can ensure your video interviews are always the most successful they can be.
About this author
Thea is responsible for the UK & I marketing team as well as driving the strategic direction of the marketing function, looking closely at opportunities for growth, positioning in the marketplace and sales support. She was appointed to the Hays UK & I Board in July 2017, following joining the UK business in the summer of 2016.
Prior to her current role she was the Vice President of Marketing for the Hays Americas business, joining the business in 2012. Under her management she built the marketing function from general support to a strategic driver of sales, establishing a central marketing unit supporting Canada, US and four Latin American countries.