Job interviews over Skype are becoming more and more common, thanks to the rise of remote working as well as tech-savvy job hunters who are willing to relocate. Now, you may have already “crushed it” on all other areas of your application but, if you crush it at sub-optimum levels over Skype, you could still miss out on the job. Here’s some advice to help you avoid that.
All the normal job interview advice still applies, but these are a few extra, Skype-specific things to be aware of.
Get a good connection
It may not be your fault if a poor connection leads to audio and video issues during a call, but it’s still frustrating for everyone involved and could leave you both with a negative feeling. Avoid this by making sure you make the call somewhere with a good connection. Test your internet speed beforehand. If it’s not good enough, find an alternative.
BONUS TIP: Skype recommends download and upload speeds of 300kbps for video calling.
Check your equipment
Don’t be caught out when the call starts. Take the time to make sure your microphone and speakers are working. You can make a test call on Skype to do this. If you don’t have a PC/laptop on hand, you can use your smartphone in a pinch. Make sure that the smartphone is set up in a stable position and has a strong WI-FI connection.
Not all your tools have to be high tech. Be sure to have pen, paper and calculator close at hand as well. Recruiters like to ask multiple questions at once to test your memory. Help yourself out a little bit. You can also write down questions you want to ask the recruiter at the end of the interview – that always leaves a good impression.
Get to know Skype
Depending on what might come up in your interview, investigate how to use Skype’s different functions. For example, learn how to share your screen or send a file over Skype, in case there is a programming or writing task. It’s also a good idea to familiarise yourself with Skype’s settings, in case you need to adjust your microphone, etc.
Choose the right location
Think about what the interviewer will be able to see behind you. A plain wall is best. No Justin Bieber posters.
Lighting is also important. Natural lighting is preferable but in any case it should be positioned in front of you, rather than behind or above, for you to look your best.
You should also consider background noise. Make sure your call location will be quiet so that you and the interviewer can focus on what you’re saying. Throw out your drunk flatmates for an hour or two.
If the call will be audio only, it’s tempting to do it in pajamas. Don’t. Getting dressed in a suitable outfit will put you in the right frame of mind for the interview. For more tips on what to wear for a startup interview, read this post.
Sit up straight
If the interviewer can see you, make sure you don’t slouch in your chair. You should take this just as seriously as a face-to-face interview. Sitting up straight also increases your confidence and deepens your voice.
Position the camera properly
Make sure you look your best for the interviewer. We know the on-screen video is distracting but try to look at your camera to simulate eye contact. If you’re using a laptop with a built-in camera, use a stack of books to raise it to eye level. If you know that your eyes will wander towards the on-screen video, minimize your Skype window and position it just below the camera. It will be less obvious that you’re not actually looking into the camera that way.
Make sure the camera shows most of your torso as well. Hand gestures are important communication tools and if your interviewer can’t see them, you can’t communicate effectively.
Cheat a little bit
One advantage of a Skype interview is that you can have some notes beside you. Jot down a few key points that you want to mention, along with information about the company and the person you will be speaking to.
One of StartupCVs’ founders (not mentioning names) actually used the following cheat during his Skype interviews: He wrote a Word document with key bullet points as well as his own questions. He then placed the document on his screen, so he could take a glimpse any time he needed to.
Don’t just read verbatim, though, or it will be obvious what you are doing. An occasional glance should be all you need to make sure you don’t miss anything important.
Apart from handwritten notes, you can also load some browser windows on your laptop. Having the mission statement of the company open, their facebook page or your recruiter’s LinkedIn profile might come in handy during the interview.
If you decide to Google something during your interview, make sure your face never leaves the camera, and type quietly – you don’t want the recruiter to notice.
EXPERT TIP (Only do this when you’ve practiced a bit): Just like with your Skype window, minimize your browser and place it close to the camera. Thus, you can keep “eye contact”, even though you are actually scanning for information.