Nail that job: how to prepare for an interview over Skype
Conducting job interviews over Skype is fast becoming more standard, especially for large companies who have multiple interview rounds, or in professions such as teaching that can require relocation. Apart from preparing yourself as you would for a face-to-face interview, there are additional practicalities to consider when doing an interview over Skype. By getting organized advance you’ll make the interview process as simple as it can be. Here’s how.
Days before the interview
Prepare your equipment: Your interviewer will clearly see your Skype username, profile photo, and status; so check they are appropriate for work and create another account if necessary. This is also the time to confirm your webcam, microphone, headphones and internet connection work well.
Ensure you know how to use some of Skype’s features. These include sharing your screen (you may want to show course material you’ve made or workshops you’ve organized), sending and receiving files, muting the speakers, and putting a call on hold.
Triple-check the school’s time zone and ensure you know what time the interview is scheduled for.
Make a backup plan if your internet suddenly crashes: have an alternative way to connect (such as a smartphone) and note down your interviewer’s email address and phone number to contact them in case of a computer malfunction.
Create the right atmosphere by finding a quiet place for your call where you won’t be interrupted by housemates, kids, or furry critters. Close the windows to eliminate outside noise and clean up the space behind you. Keep your immediate surroundings simple. A plain light-colored wall is perfect; though plants, a bookshelf, or neutral style of framed painting is also fine.
Select clothes you would be comfortable wearing to a face-to-face interview – though do avoid loud prints, colors that are too similar to your background – this can make you look like a floating head – or small stripes, which can appear fuzzy onscreen. Importantly, don’t wear yoga pants or grubby tracksuit bottoms: You never know when you might have to stand up mid-interview. Being well-groomed will make you feel confident and professional and is a mark of respect to yourself and to your potential employer.
Make sure you’re well-lit by as much natural light as possible. Remember that if you’re lit from behind you’ll appear shadowy to your interviewer. To combat this, try placing your computer in front of a window or position a desk light or lamp behind it.
Know where to place your webcam at roughly eye height. You could put it on a shelf behind your computer or raise your laptop itself on a stack of sturdy books if you plan to use its inbuilt camera.
Do a practice run with someone you trust to make sure everything looks and sounds professional.
The hour before the interview
Keep your files, notes, and printouts at hand on your computer desktop or workspace. Another great idea is to have links to any online documents pre-pasted into a simple text editor document, ready to copy into your Skype chat if necessary.
Close all programs not needed for your interview. They can chew up bandwidth and slow down the quality of your connection.
Restart your computer and change your Skype status to “Do not disturb”. That way, you won’t receive any calls or messages during your interview.
Double-check your sound is working fine by making an Echo test call on Skype.
During the interview
Make “eye contact” with your webcam. Though it sounds counter-intuitive, if you look directly at your interviewer they’ll perceive that you’re looking slightly away from them.
Communicate effectively onscreen: Speak clearly, annunciate well, and don’t rely on gestures, facial expressions, and body language. These are far more easily understood in face-to-face interviews.
End your interview well. Don’t wave at your interviewer (you wouldn’t do that in a traditional interview!) and ensure you sign out of your account before you speak again.
And of course, try to enjoy the process. With a bit of preparation beforehand, you’ll be relaxed during the interview – and it will show.