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Time to Skype it Up!

Post by Mary Ann Kelly

It’s becoming more and more common for companies to use Skype during the interview process. Skype can help save time and be an efficient way to meet with someone without the hassle of travel.

Lately, we have scheduled several Skype interviews with candidates directly and on behalf of our clients and thought it would be helpful to share some of our learning experiences.

Get on the Bus, Gus: First, have you used Skype before? Do you have an account? If so, is your screen name and photo professional? After your resume, your Skype picture and user name are going to be the next impression this potential employer will have of you. If your Skype name or profile pic are not the best representation of your professional self, CaipirinhaQueen, go ahead and create a Skype account that you will only use during interviews…it’s free!

How to Set Up: If you don’t use Skype often, we recommend doing a few practice chats. Ask a pal to set up a chat with you so you can practice and prepare your surroundings. Choose a location in your home or office that is quiet and doesn’t have a cluttered backdrop. It’s important that you are the focal point on the screen, not something behind you like a picture or wall decoration.

If other people are going to be around during the interview, make sure they know not to interrupt your meeting. Once my husband popped his head in and asked if I wanted a sandwich. Not cool.

Be sure you have adjusted the audio on your computer and close out other programs, especially anything that will make a notification sound. It’s embarrassing to receive a Facebook notification during a Skype interview. Plus, you want to make sure you have the best signal possible to minimize loading delays.

How to Dress: Whether you are in your home office or your living room, resist the temptation to wear your Snuggie. Comfy? Yes! Appropriate? Practically never. Even though this is not an in person meeting you should still dress the part. Wear what you would if you were interviewing in person, right down to your shoes. This may sound unnecessary but there are a few reasons why we suggest this:

  1. Dressing in full interview attire puts you in a professional mindset
  2. You never know if you might have technical difficulties during your meeting that would require you to stand up. You don’t want your potential employer to see your sweatpants and slippers. This, too, has happened to us!  They were cute slippers though.

How to be On Camera: During your interview you should be looking at the camera and not the computer screen. Looking directly at the video camera is the best way to maintain direct eye contact with your interviewer. Skype settings allow you to pop up a little window of yourself, which is a great way to make sure you’re making good eye contact and not doing anything weird. We talked to one candidate that never looked up and swiveled constantly in his chair. It made me dizzy.

You’ll feel more natural if you practice a few times so you look relaxed and at ease rather than peering tentatively into your screen.  If you want to use notes, keep a simple bulleted list of key topics on the desk in front of you that you can glance at.

Be sure that you interviewer remains engaged throughout your conversation. Hopefully, they don’t choose to answer emails during your interview – another benefit to Skype over phone interviews – but be prepared to pause or speak more quickly if you sense their interest is waning. You should avoid distractions too.  Even if technology wreaks havoc with the picture or sound quality, there’s nothing worse than not having an answer to “Where were we?”

If you’re really having trouble hearing, don’t try to guess what your interviewers is saying. Just announce that you aren’t catching everything and propose you turn off the video to improve call quality or hop on the phone.

Finally, just as you would for an in-person interview, prepare an outline of how you’d like the call to go, e.g. Critical points to communicate, questions, etc. It’s entirely possible your interviewer won’t have prepared as thoroughly, so you may need to walk them thru your resume or even take the lead in structuring your interview.

Skype interviews are becoming way more commonplace, but they’re still awkward for everyone. You can prepare for typical scenarios by following these tips and if all else fails, use humor when technology misbehaves.

If you have a Skype tip or picture of you in your Snuggie, please email us!

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