We live in an age of technological advances we’ve never seen before. Tech is shaping everything we do, including how we apply for and interview for jobs. One of these advances is the use of Skype as a way to interview candidates without the expense of bringing them on-site for the conversation. According to data by the Aberdeen Group and Futurestep, companies using video as part of the interviewing process have grown from 11% in 2011 to 71% in 2015. Those numbers signal that this isn’t a fad, but a real part of the selection process to think about.
So, if the chances are good you are going to be interviewed via video, you should do everything you can to make sure it’s a pleasant and memorable (in a good way) process. After all, many of us have seen the scene from The Internship where Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson go to the public library to have their interview with Google only to have kids running around yelling in the background. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a watch here:
5 Tips for a Successful Skype Interview
We’ve put together a short list of things to remember if you are asked to interview using Skype or other video technology as part of the recruiting process:
- Put your best foot forward. This one seems like a tip that would be so simple it’s hardly worth talking about, but it’s too important to forget. There’s an old saying among recruiters that goes something to the effect that when you see someone in an interview, that’s the best they are EVER going to look. First impressions mean a lot in the interview process and when you are on camera, you miss the human element of being face-to-face in the same room. This means you have to do even more to make yourself stand out. This means dressing up. A good rule of thumb is to dress one or two notches above the job you are applying for. Also, put the entire outfit on. There’s a tendency to think that since you are only on camera from the shoulders up, that you can get by with wearing your shorts or sweats on the bottom. We don’t recommend this and it’s more to do with psychology than practicality. If you get dressed as if you are going into the office for the interview, your mind will be in business gear and not stuck somewhere else.
- Avoid distractions. One of the hardest things about a Skype interview is getting rid of any distractions that will cause you to lose focus. Let’s start with your computer. Make sure you quit your email program, Facebook, Twitter, or any other program that has an audible or video signal when you get a notification. Trust us, professional interviewers can tell in an instant when your eyes move to the corner of your screen to read an alert message. It shows you aren’t fully engaged. Next, think about what else around the house could be a distraction. Is the TV off? Is the dog outside, at a neighbors house, or at least in another room. Same goes for the kids. Are they occupied and do they understand you have an important meeting on the computer?
- Background and lighting. These are little details that can mean a big difference during the interview. You don’t want a background that is cluttered. Sitting in front of a bookshelf full of books, for example, makes it harder for the camera to figure out what to focus on. You may need to move some furniture prior to the interview, but the best is to be in front a plain wall with nothing on it. Next, you want to make sure the lighting is from the front of you and slightly to one side or another. If you are lit from behind (like sitting with your back to a window) you will appear dark on camera. If you do have a window in the house and it’s daylight, sitting with the window facing you is a great way to light the video. You may have to play around with the lighting, especially if you are using a lamp to make sure you aren’t casting shadows on the wall behind you.
- Prepare in advance. This is a tip that carries over from face-to-face interviews, but with some added preparation. Make sure you have spent some time on the company website or have taken the time to speak with someone who works there to get some background on the organization. Prepare a list of questions that you want to ask the interviewer when you have their attention. Always, let me repeat, always do a test with someone to make sure your technology is working the way it should. Find a friend to have a Skype conversation with on camera. This helps to troubleshoot any camera or audio issues and lets you see how you look on camera and if you are lit properly.
- Make a connection. This refers to the non-technical side of the interview. You have a short period of time with the interviewer. Make sure you leave that interview feeling like you made a connection with the person you were talking to. We said it earlier, but it’s worth reiterating. When you are in a room with a person, you can get a feeling about who they are. This is much harder to accomplish on video, so you have to work extra hard at making this happen. Practice talking, gesturing, and smiling in front of a mirror. You may have to go to the place where it feels slightly uncomfortable to you, but will look normal to them. This is your one shot. Make it count.
I think you’ll find if you just do a few simple things, you can increase your odds of landing that next job that starts with a Skype interview!