Acing the Skype Interview

MaxHeadroom

Apparently, I take requests!

This is the first blog post I have written that was specifically requested by someone. After having read a number of my other posts on the job search, one of my colleagues suggested I needed to do one to help people do a better job on Skype-type interviews. This resonated with me because I am in the midst of chairing a search for a senior level position and when we did such interviews I was surprised by how many of these senior people made mistakes that reduced the effectiveness of their interviews.

So here are ten basic tips for doing great on your Skype/zoom interviews. You will notice that at least seven of them fall into the category of preparation. It is that preparation that will most help you do great on this type of interview.

Test the equipment and connection ahead of time

I am stunned by the number of slow starting interviews because of basic problems in getting connected, most of which could be avoided by testing early. And, while interviewers can express sympathy for such glitches, they ARE affected by them and such occurrences only hurt the candidate.

Check your background

Make sure the room you are in, that is the part the interviewers see behind you, is neat, tidy, professional, and uncluttered. It should be neutral and not draw their attention away from you.

Make sure your face is lit from the front

Many of us set up our computers with windows behind us, because it is easier on our eyes to have light behind us. That means when doing a Skype interview a major source of light is behind you. Ideally, the main source of light should be in front of you, illuminating your face. Being heavily backlit darkens your face and causes the interviewers to strain to see you, and you do NOT want your experience with them to be a strain. So, it is best not to sit with your back to a window, unless there is a blackout shade to cover it.

Dress like it is an interview

Phone interviews are not very much fun, but at least you could lounge in your pajamas when doing them. A Skype interview is not a phone interview. Even if you are conducting this interview from home be sure to dress (at least the part they will see) as you would for an in-person interview.

Make sure to avoid interruptions

We all saw the expert on Korea who became a viral sensation when his kids and wife interrupted his TV interview. You do not want that to happen! Whether you are at work or home, make sure you will not be interrupted.

Avoid computer distractions

Close other programs on the computer in order to avoid pop-ups or visual or auditory alerts that will distract you and the interviewers.

Make sure you are looking into the camera

Some people without built-in video cameras in their computers keep the detachable camera off to the side or, worse, below and pointing up at them. This dramatically reduces the sense of the interviewers feeling like they are making a connection with you. Instead, you should look directly into the camera. The interviewers will experience the illusion of making eye contact with you. That is a strong, positive illusion to make happen!

Ensure effective introductions

If it is a group interview, when individuals introduce themselves repeat each person’s first name and smile into the camera. Again, it gives the illusion of physical connection, acting sort of like a virtual handshake.

Use notes

There weren’t many advantages to phone interviews, but one big one was the ability to spread out documents and notes that could be easily referred to without the interviewers knowing. That is more difficult, but still possible, to do with a Skype interview. You can write notes on post-its and cluster them around the camera lens. The interviewers can’t see such notes and your glances left, right, or down slightly will not be noticed by the interviewers.

Practice

Like any other form of interview, you should practice. You should especially practice if you haven’t yet been interviewed on Skype. You need to get feedback about your “eye contact,” how you are presenting yourself (body language is pretty much restricted to head and shoulders), and how your energy is coming off in this form of communication.

What other tips do you have for such interviews?

Good luck!

Follow me at @pglove33

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