After refreshing your inbox an embarrassing number of times, the email finally comes through. You’re one of the lucky few selected for an interview. Yippee. Only, hold up, they want to do it over Skype. Skype haters gonna hate, but if you are someone who wants to use the interview as a time for the company to get to know you (and be impressed by you) as a person, Skype is preferable to a phone interview every time. It shows them so much more about who you are and how you will fit into their team. So, prep for your interview as per usual and then, make sure you’ve got all your Skype bases covered. Here are our top nine Skype interview tips:
1. Don’t make excuses.
If you’re asked to do an interview over Skype, saying you’d rather interview over the phone, or that you have a crappy internet connection, or even worse, that you don’t have Skype is a fail. You’ve just answered no to your first interview question. Congrats! If you want this job – find a way to make it work, even if it’s not convenient. You wouldn’t be the first person to download Skype, create an account, and immediately email your interviewer back with a yes and your username.
2. Speaking of usernames, make sure yours is professional.
Anything that is difficult to read or in any way resembles your middle school AIM screenname is making a bad first impression. Be boring and use your name.
3. Dress the part.
Just because you’re not on-site does not mean you should wear your college hoodie. I’m not saying put on a suit, but you should wear whatever you would wear to an in-person interview. And shower. Plus, dressing like you’re going in for a in-person interview will help you feel like you’re at an in-person interview.
4. Think about your location.
What’s behind you matters. Set up a clean, neutral background with good lighting. Avoid basements and sitting in front of a window, unless you want to look like someone whose identity is being protected. Avoid public spaces, unless you don’t have internet at home. If you’re in a coffeeshop because you don’t have internet, let your interviewer know by acknowledging that hey, you are in a noisy coffeeshop.
5. Use a headset.
People might differ on this one, but if you have a headphone set with a talkpiece (like most ipod or iphone headphones), use it – especially if you’re in a public space. Your computer picks up a lot of background noise. By using a headset, they’ll be able to hear you more clearly and with less distracting background noises.
6. Maintain Eye Contact.
As awkward as it might feel, look at your webcam – not the screen. It will make you seem all the more present and personable. It will also ensure your eyes don’t drift to the video of yourself in the bottom corner (we all can be guilty of that one). Pro-tip: place your laptop on a stack of books to get the camera at eye-level. Trust me, it’s a more flattering angle.
7. Handle any tech glitches with grace.
Things can go wrong. Your interviewer understands that. If something does happen, remain calm and friendly while you troubleshoot. Don’t be afraid to ask to hang up the call and try again if your Skype is freezing up. If anything, it’ll demonstrate can handle a stressful situation without going on a cursing rampage and/or crying.
8. Avoid avoidable tech glitches by practicing before.
Make a test call to a friend some time before your interview to make sure your audio and camera are working properly. Ask them how you sound, if they can see you clearly, and how the lighting is, etc.
9. Eliminate interruptions.
That’s not just telling your roommate or mother to steer clear. It’s turning off any notifications on your computer. Silencing your phone. Closing your mail client. Facebook. AIM, if you’re still using that middle school account mentioned previously.
The bottom line is this: treat this Skype interview as you would any in-person interview. Be amiable. Give cues that you’re actively listening. Ask well thought out questions. Send a well thought out thank you note when the interview is done. And most importantly, bring it.
Michaela Gianotti serves as Koru's content specialist around job seeker and candidate experience advice. She attended Whitman College, where she spent the better part of four years convincing her family that English majors can get jobs too. She has since found awesome work (SEE!) at 826 Seattle, msnNOW, and Koru.More from Michaela Gianotti