​10 tips for Skype interviews: Practice makes perfect

 

As hiring managers become more comfortable with new technologies, Skype or videoconference interviewing is becoming more common.

 

Unlike phone interviews, more information can be gleaned from Skype interviews, making them increasingly popular alternatives to initial phone interviews.

However, this new frontier in interviewing brings with it a new etiquette and set of rules.

Companies have been using Skype to interview since approximately 2009, with videoconferencing used before that. Generally, the interviewer who suggests the Skype interview is experienced using video technology and likes the benefits that it provides in the interview process. The applicant may not be as comfortable and will require additional preparation.

How to prepare

In addition to regular interview preparation, a job candidate must also be aware of how they are perceived via Skype. When the interviewer and candidate can see each other, factors like setting, body language and appearance become important parts of the interview and require some pre-planning. Here are 10 tips for a successful Skype interview.

1. Choose a clean and simple background free of distractions

If you plan to do the interview from your home, there is an opportunity for the interviewer to learn all kinds of things about you — from your taste in artwork to how many pets you have. The interviewer does not need this level of personal information about you.

Keep the backdrop simple. If you don’t have a white wall to sit in front of, hang a white sheet neatly behind you. Make sure your chair, desk or table are simple and clear of excess papers and personal items. Let the people (and pets) in your life know what is happening and how important it is and make sure they stay well away from where you will conduct the interview. Alternatively, libraries often have clean and neat rooms that can be reserved. This could also be a great option if you need to borrow a webcam for your laptop.

 2. Light yourself favorably

Do not sit in front of a window or blinds, as these will wreak havoc with your light and cause you to appear as a shadowy figure. Overhead lights can be just as bad, casting harsh shadows on your face. Set up two task lights on either side of your computer/webcam. Test the light by doing a dry run with a friend or family member at the same time of day that your interview will occur.

3. Make sure your hands are free

Even if you think you don’t, you talk with your hands and your body as well as with your mouth and facial expressions. Make sure the camera has a good shot of your head, shoulders and hands. This will require you to use a laptop or a desktop computer, not a smartphone or tablet. Smartphones or tablet devices often require you to hold them at awkward angles and limit your ability to express yourself while speaking.

4. Sit up, lean in and look at the camera

Take time to pick the right chair. Stay away from an easy chair or a big desk chair that swivels and leans back, as these will make you appear too relaxed. Pick a chair with a straight back and sit with proper posture.

You want to lean in like a news anchor does. This allows the interviewer to see your facial expressions. Make sure your hands are still visible. As tempting as it may be, don’t fixate on your picture in the corner of the screen. This gives the impression you are not making eye contact. Instead, minimize your picture to the corner and look directly into the camera.

5. Confirm that your sound is audible and your camera is on

Clarity is important. Before the interview, test your microphone, speakers and camera with a friend or family member to be sure that they are all working optimally.

6. Avoid technical difficulties             

The internet is not foolproof. It is of the utmost importance to ensure your internet connection works properly during a Skype interview. Ideally, you should plug your computer into an Ethernet port, which is far more reliable than wireless.

7. Connect your “handles”

It is a timesaver to pre-connect with each other. Etiquette would have the interviewer pre-connect with you. However, they may request that you pre-connect with them due to time constraints. It is very important you use a professional Skype name. “Carman1962” or “Beerlover1992” are not names that will represent you well.

Even if you have to open another account on Skype, make sure you choose something professional. If your name is already taken, try your name with your industry or function (jsmith_accountant or jsmith_CPA, for instance).

8. Be enthusiastic

Just like a phone interview, sometimes people come across as wooden in Skype interviews. Make an effort to smile and act as pleasant and upbeat as possible.

9. Be prepared

Just like an in-person interview, you need to be prepared. Have your resume, the job description and your notes about the company and the role in front of you. Make sure you have your questions written down. Always err on the side of having too many questions prepared.

Some questions will naturally be addressed during the course of the interview. When the interviewer asks if you have questions, they are testing to see how much research you did and your interest level. If you wrote down a lot of questions but all of them were answered, at minimum you can show the interviewer that you had questions prepared and compliment them on their ability to share all the information. If there is not time for all your questions, you may have another chance to ask them at the second interview.

10. Dress for success

Avoid stripes or houndstooth type patterns because they read on camera like a strobe light. It’s best to wear dark colors with accents of color in a tie or for ladies in a shirt under a suit jacket.

Steal a tip from news anchors and sit on the back of your suit jacket if it is long enough. This will assure that the front of your jacket lays smooth against your body and give you the most polished look.

You may be tempted to wear a jacket and a blouse or shirt on top and jeans on the bottom, but resist. You would be surprised at how many wardrobe malfunctions can happen, and even if you think you are totally prepared, there’s always the possibility you may have to get up from your chair briefly. The camera will catch everything. Dress 100 percent as you would for a real interview, because this is a real interview.

Practice makes perfect

As mentioned throughout these tips, practice makes perfect. A trial run with a friend before the actual interview will help work out many unknowns that could sabotage the interview. When you know things went well in the practice session, you will have that much more confidence when it counts!

  

By: Laura Fries

Source: www.bizjournals.com

 

 

Laura Fries, managing director and executive vice president of Baker Tilly’s Executive Search practice, has more than 20 years of experience serving clients in multiple industries and functional disciplines, placing C-level and vice president/director executives with firms across the U.S.