With modern technology, being in the office isn’t always a necessity for the interview process.
Skype and similar web-conferencing tools allow interviewers to connect with candidates throughout the world.
According to one survey from OfficeTeam, as many as 60 percent of companies now conduct some or all of their interviews via Skype.
That’s great news if you’re familiar with online communication, but there are a few guidelines you should follow to ace your interview.
For recent graduates of a technology school, giving a great Skype interview is especially important. You’re expected to be tech-savvy and comfortable with new tools, so conducting a good online interview is an important signal that you’re keeping current.
Before You Start
When you interview in a potential employer’s office, you don’t get to control the acoustics and lighting. For a Skype interview, those details should be part of your pre-interview process. Check your audio and video set-up to ensure that everything works the way it should. Enlisting a friend to connect with you and give feedback can be a big help here; your friend can tell you if you’re coming through clearly and show you screenshots of how you look from the other side of the computer.
An interview is too important to lose, so don’t rely on a wireless Internet connection that could drop you. Ethernet connections offer stable connectivity. They’re also faster, and that speed minimizes the chances of speaking over your interviewer or missing important contextual cues. You may not be in the same room, but body language still matters; being able to read your interviewer in real-time is a crucial advantage.
If you’re at the interview stage, your prospective employer is already interested in you, but it’s never too late to polish your Skype profile and upload a professional-looking photograph. That picture of you in Cancun for your senior spring break is fun for your friends, but it doesn’t carry the businesslike connotation you want to convey to employers. A simple headshot is the way to go here.
Many in-person interview rules still apply to a Skype interview, so choose your clothing with care. A suit is always a good choice, especially if you’re in a conservative field such as finance or law. You could get away with dressing for success from the waist up, but what happens if you need to grab a new pen? Stay on the safe side and dress as if you were going to an in-office interview. Some patterns create a moiré effect on screens, so stick to solid colors or larger prints that won’t create visual interference, suggests Amy Levin-Epstein in her CBS Moneywatch article on preparing for a Skype interview. Follow the lead of what news anchors wear, and your interviewer can focus on you instead of your clothing.
You aren’t the only thing that will appear on the screen. Look for a neutral, orderly background for your interview to eliminate distractions. Organizing your desk makes you look in control, according to Debbie Swanson in Forbes. Good choices for backgrounds include a blank office wall, a bookcase or a window.
During the Interview
You might be used to multi-tasking on your computer, but this is one occasion when you want to focus your attention. Close any potential distractions, including other social media and email, for the duration of the interview. Shut down any additional programs that might slow your connection too; you don’t need that weather app while you’re talking to your potential future employer. Keep your eye on the camera, not on your screen, and you’ll give the impression of attentively listening to your interviewer.
Non-verbal cues are important even in online interviews, so talk freely with your hands. Lean in toward the camera a little; you’ll give an impression of eagerness, suggests Alexandra Whittaker with USA Today. In her tips for great Skype interviews, she also mentions dropping your shoulders and relaxing. A tense posture is visible even on a small monitor. So let yourself feel at ease.
If you were in your interviewer’s office, he or she would have asked a secretary to hold all calls. Do your prospective employer the same courtesy by turning off your phone’s ringer and ensuring that you won’t be interrupted throughout the meeting. If you’re a work-at-home parent or a tech school student still living at home, make sure everyone in your household knows to give you some space for your meeting.
Timing with online interviews can be tricky. Even with a good connection, speech sometimes overlaps. To counteract possible lag, wait a beat or two before speaking. Take those extra seconds to think about your answers, and when you respond, speak slowly and clearly enough to be heard the first time. If you’ve practiced with a friend before your meeting, you should be able to find the vocal volume that’s comfortable for you and your listener.
Skype interviews are already common and will likely continue to grow in popularity as video technology improves. Make the most of it by developing killer Skype interview skills.
After you ace your interview and get the job be sure to check out these 5 Killer ‘Hacks’ for Networking at Events.