The Do’s and Don’ts of a Skype Job Interview

skype interview how to nail a job interview on skype

This person is doing at least two things wrong during this Skype interview, read on to figue them out.

There is something awkward about a phone interview.

The uncomfortable pauses where you wonder, did I say something wrong or are they just taking a drink of water?

The indecisive moments, questioning whether it’s your turn to talk, then when you do go for it, the interviewer begins again and you talk over each other like bickering siblings.

Thankfully, there is an interviewing trend emerging  that allows you to read body language, know when it’s your turn to talk and still get away without wearing any pants, it’s the Skype interview.

More and more companies are ditching the phones, or saving travel expenses, by performing job interviews on Skype, Facetime and in Google Hangouts. Nowhere is this more convenient than in the entertainment industry, where you may be recruited for a job out of market, or the interviewer may be somewhere on location.

We give the Skype interview our seal of approval, if you follow these tips:

Practice

We’re going to give you some really good tips here, some will involve hardware or apps and others will instruct you on set-up and wardrobe, but none of it matters if you don’t practice it all before the interview.

Call a friend, run through a fake interview and make sure your technology works and your image looks good before the big day.

Interviews are stressful enough; the last thing you want to do is run through a technical set-up for the first time with the clock ticking towards go time.

Invest in Audio

Generally speaking, the microphone that comes built into your laptop is terrible. We’re not suggesting you have to run out and buy a professional grade microphone, but investing a little in a USB mic, like the Blue Microphones Snowflake USB, will go a long way to making your conversation clearer.

Just don’t go Janet Jackson on us and get a headset, you aren’t going into space.

Check Your Connection

You may not remember how to do this but… plug in and connect directly to the internet, no wireless.

Wireless fluctuates; you can lose signal quality during the interview and miss something important, direct connection will give greater consistency.

Also, shut down any programs you aren’t using, isolate Skype as your only open application and again you’ll have more consistent quality.

Plan Your Wardrobe and Overall Appearance

Skype interviews by nature are more casual than a face-to-face, so you don’t have to break out the power suit. Dress upscale casual, like you were headed to a nice dinner at a restaurant not named Red Robin.

Cameras see things differently than the human eye, so keep things simple:

  1. No white or dark clothing – this is not the time to channel your inner Johnny Cash.  Your webcam can have trouble focusing on these colors and the image can appear hazy or clouded.
  2. Avoid small, busy patterns – they cause a weird motion effect visually.
  3. Turn off your cell phone and remove your watch if it has beeps or alarms
  4. If your glasses aren’t glare free – go without
  5. Get a good night sleep – cameras aren’t forgiving, if you feel haggard, you’ll look even worse

Check Your Surroundings

Pick a room in your house or apartment that has solid color, neutral walls. Think earth tones: taupe, light blue or soft greens all work really well, patterns and either too bright or too dark of colors, don’t.

Remember to remove any artwork or posters behind you, no one needs to know how much you love Pink Floyd, despite the fact we can all agree they are the greatest band of all-time.

Set-up with light sources directly behind the webcam and pointing at you, this will give you the least shadows and illuminate your face. Light coming in from the side, or too heavy from the top can really affect the way you present yourself.

Finally, lock the door if you can, nothing is worse than having your lovely child run in screaming for a granola bar during your interview.

Eye Level

This is the one everyone forgets. When you are speaking, don’t look at the screen, look directly into the webcam.

Looking directly into the webcam appears to the interviewer like you are looking them in the eyes and making eye contact shows confidence.

Have you ever seen a TV ad where the local sports star is reading something about the neighborhood Chevy dealer? They are always looking just off screen reading cue cards, awkwardly. They don’t exude confidence, and neither will you if you look at the monitor, instead of the webcam, while talking.

Final Tips to Nail your Skype Job Interview:

  • If you can’t see the interviewee, don’t be shy ask them to change the angle of their webcam. The whole point of a Skype interview is that you can see each other and engage, if that is lost you might as well just talk on the phone.
  • Add their profile to your Skype account the night before, this is another thing you don’t want to be scrambling to connect prior to your interview
  • After the interview you now have this person as a contact in your Skype account. DO NOT abuse this privilege by instant messaging them every time they are logged on. Major turn off.
  • Make sure to log off when you are complete, I had one friend tell me they left their session on and started talking to themselves about how they “nailed it”…very embarrassing.

Follow these tips and you’ll set yourself up to make a great impression.

Have you ever had an interview on Skype, Facetime or Google Hangout? How did it go?

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About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the broadcast media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, you should.

Comments

  1. Right on 2 counts – Skype interviews and Pink Floyd! I abhor Skype intwerviews or this reason – you do not get the personal interaction you would in a live intervioew. The human touch. It is more important than people think. My first experince was a disaster but I did later find out THAT THE INTERVIEWER WAS A BOOR – a VP more intereted in himself and traveling than in getting the job done. So I tried it a second time and it qorked well – following some of the tipis you have listed here.

    • that is great Paul – glad that you made some progress with this technique – I’m with you I hate it and the lack of human touch, but sadly it’s becoming more and more of a reality. – Best, Brian

  2. Brian, Thanks checking and location are very important. Get a good audio pick up is important and putting a light in from of you also. Very good suggestions over all. By the second time i had my checks and location all set up..

  3. I learned that my computer is incompatible with Google Hangouts (my built-in web cam does not work with it. It does work otherwise and also with Skype.) Major stress factor!

    Also, Google Hangouts is so subtle. I was expecting her to call my cell phone, whereas she was just looking for me in the app that is part of Gmail.

    See if you can get them to use Skype, instead. Much more straightforward, in my opinion.

  4. I am really delighted to glance at this blog posts which contains lots of valuable information,
    thanks for providing such information.

  5. A little contradictory eh?

    “If you can’t see the interviewee, don’t be shy ask them to change the angle of their webcam. The whole point of a Skype interview is that you can see each other and engage, if that is lost you might as well just talk on the phone.”

    “When you are speaking, don’t look at the screen, look directly into the webcam.”

    I suppose you’re allowed to look at faces when they are talking, but isn’t there a trade-off here, if you can’t read facial expressions in reaction to what you are saying? And doesn’t it look like you are not making eye contact with them when they are talking? Looking at the webcam defeats the whole point of having a video conference I think; It may be a little strange that you are not looking directly at the person, but that’s a limitation of the medium; and the suggested cure seems worse than the ailment.

    • Not really. When you are answering their question your connection is stronger (perceived value) if you are looking into your webcam. What they see is you making direct eye contact with them. When they are talking you can be looking at their facial expression and body language through your screen. I would also add, your webcam isn’t that far from your screen and your vision can cover both areas. I find it quite easy to be looking into my webcam, but also be able to tell if I am losing someone’s interest by using the entire scope of my vision and seeing my screen. -Brian

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