When you plan on working remote (telecommuting) or finding a job overseas, you often cannot have a face-to-face meeting with the person who seeks to hire you. Though for many people a Skype interview is considered uncharted territory, and the ins-and-outs of how to pull one off successfully are often underestimated. That is why I wanted to share with you some tips about how to ace your Skype interview.
I wanted to first start off with telling you a little bit about my personal experiences with Skype interviews, because I’ve had a number of distance calls over the years, and each one has left an impression on me. Sometimes, Skype interviews can be extremely casual, where both parties are merely calling to chat about job details and to get a better idea about each other’s personality. Others can be extremely formal.
I have had “interviews” where the interviewer wasn’t prepared or sat at a bad angle that made it extremely hard to focus on them. I’ve had interviews where one of our cameras glitched out, or the microphone didn’t work, or there was a bad connection, making even communicating in a natural manner a challenge. Usually, these encounters can be handled with grace – and once every technical issue is resolved, and if both people are open to the experience, Skype interviews can actually be really enjoyable.
The reason is because you can connect with someone despite the extreme distance between you. Another advantage is that the interviewer may only be able to see you from the waist up, so you can hide any nervous ticks out of frame.
Of course, there are a couple other advantages and disadvantages to a Skype call that I’d like to touch on:
Advantages of a Skype Interview
- Connecting with your potential employee over a distance, saving you travel (or hopping on an airplane)
- Being able to skip the awkward phone interview
- Being able to see facial expressions as well as visuals from the office setting (if you are seeing the actual space you would be working). Facial expressions are extremely important, especially when the interviewer might not be speaking your native language. This will help prevent any misunderstandings.
- You and the interviewer can assess one another visually – they can see how professional you dress and behave, as well as how clean you keep your environment
- You can even use visual aids!
- When you finally get to meet in person, you won’t have to worry about figuring out what the interviewer looks like, making that first handshake all the less frightening
Disadvantages of a Skype Interview
- You still need to have excellent speaking skills and the ability to function under pressure
- You have to dress professionally and make sure your surroundings are clean and free of obscene items (remove those posters from your walls before the interview)
- You might have to deal with a number of technical difficulties before getting connected, which can amplify the stress you feel
- You may have a difficult time understanding the interviewer(s)
- If you don’t frequently use Skype, the entire process can be confusing, especially when you have to troubleshoot
- Skype isn’t without its own bugs and malfunctions, including slow internet, freezing frames, lagging audio
Now that you know some of the pros and cons to having a distance interview over Skype, let’s look at ways to get prepared!
Tips to Ace Your Skype Interview
Everyone knows that you can expect there to be elements from the face-to-face interview to come into play for the Skype interview, but there are also some other things to keep in mind. Keeping the advantages and disadvantages in mind, be sure to do the following things to help you successfully prepare for the upcoming video call:
Practice makes perfect
One of the best ways to make sure you are comfortable with interviewing over Skype is to do multiple test runs. Use the application a couple of times before the big day. See how you look on camera. Record yourself. Practice answering questions, such as introducing yourself. Figure out what camera angle looks best for you, too.
Once you are relaxed enough on your own, recruit a friend to Skype call with you. Have them ask you a couple of questions for you to answer. They should be noting your body language, volume of your speech, any nervous ticks that may distract the interviewer and potential technological glitches that could arise. Ask for their feedback on these things once the mock-run is complete.
Stress test your technology
Double check to make sure your technology is all up to date. You should have a broadband connection and a webcam that works well. Another way to help with speed is to close all other apps on your computer. This will eliminate pop-ups and unwanted notifications, camera freezes, and other problems. Focus only on your interview.
Make sure your username is professional
Everyone has made the mistake of making an embarrassing email or messenger account at least once in their life. However, you don’t want to be using that username for your interview. Make a professional account before adding the interviewer as a contact.
Dress the part
Think about what you are going to be wearing. If you are wearing glasses, try to avoid glare on the lenses. Wear a clean shirt – a collared one is excellent, especially if you are going for a corporate job. Another thing to keep in mind is that you should always wear professional-looking pants. You don’t want to get caught wearing boxers when you have to suddenly stand up to retrieve something from across the room.
Clean your room
Your location definitely matters. Be sure you are set up in a location that is clean, has a neutral color background, and decent lighting. You should avoid any place that is too dark, too noisy, or too bright. Also, avoid public spaces unless you don’t have internet at home. If that is the case and you need to use a coffee shop, for example, then let the interviewer know this ahead of time.
Just like a normal interview, you don’t want to be late. Sign in ahead of time and wait for the interviewer to call you. Appropriate etiquette, especially for Japan, is the interviewer sending a message over Skype confirming that they are online and ready to begin the interview. Once you acknowledge this request, the interview call begins.
In short, don’t leave the person waiting. Respect their time and vice versa. Don’t try to make excuses for being late, either — unless you are legitimately having trouble connecting to Skype. Always send an email explaining technical difficulties, should that be the case you’re not online.
Maintain eye contact & watch your body language
As awkward as it seems, look at the webcam and the person on the screen. Nowhere else. This will make it seem like you are looking directly at them. Be careful about where your eyes tend to drift. If you’re like me, you might suddenly find yourself focused on that little box of your own face in the corner.
You should also avoid putting your elbows on the table, slouching, or any other position that makes you look unprofessional. I personally prefer stacking up some books to bring my laptop’s camera to eye-level, and standing so I don’t get tempted to stretch out in the seat.
This goes beyond telling other people in the space, such as your roommate or parents, to stay away. This means muffling any background noise, turning off notifications, silencing the cellphone, closing email, and anything else that could interrupt you. Make sure the door is closed to your study or room, too. Last thing you want is for the cat, dog, child, or another walking distraction to come busting in and ruin your composure.
Armed with these useful tips, you should be able to not only successfully complete your Skype interview, but you will also be more confident! Knowing what to expect will help keep you centered. Enjoy the experience. Skype interviews are really no different from a normal interview, after all. The only thing you can’t do is shake one another’s hand! Good luck, and may you get that job you’re after.
By Valerie Taylor
東京都在住。太陽光発電に関する企業で通訳・翻訳、 国際関係業務を勤めている。 また、ダンスと忍術を訓練している。
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