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How to Interview on Skype

job interview, skype, web cam, webcam, job search, hr, cameraThis is a guest post from Eric Olavson @GiraffeResume.

Great! So you’ve made it past the difficult resume screening process and have now reached round two: the Skype interview. In addition to learning how to interview, there are a few additional nuances that you should know about if you are interviewing on Skype. 

Installing Skype and Selecting a Username

Skype is a program that allows video calls across the world for free. When installing Skype, choose a username that is professional—preferably your first initial and last name. (If that name is taken, find a variation using a middle initial or middle name.)

Avoid unprofessional names like SexySally or GangstaGuy. Also avoid putting a number at the end of your name (e.g. Bob1942). If your username is unprofessional, create a new account.

For your picture, select a professional profile picture of you wearing a suit. If you don’t have a professional profile shot, don’t use a picture at all.

No Distractions

Make sure that your roommates, children, friends, spouse, and pets are instructed not to enter the room in which you are interviewing. Use a “Do Not Disturb” sign if you have to. Make sure all programs on your computer that might create a sound or distract you are turned off.

Internet Connection

Check your internet connection and run a test round with a friend the day before. There is nothing worse than conducting a Skype interview with both parties saying, “Can you hear me now?” If your wireless internet connection is unreliable, use an actual cord, or go somewhere where there is a stable internet connection.

Setting, Background, Lighting

Have the lighting in the room shine on your face. Add a plant or a bookcase to the background. Make sure the area around you is clean and organized.

Dress Like an Interview in Person

Dress to impress. Wear what you would wear to an actual interview.

Skype Mock Interview

Make sure to do a mock interview on Skype with a friend a day before the actual interview, double-checking the technology, lighting, and the angle of the camera.

During the mock interview, make sure to practice the three interviewing themes that you’ve developed.

Small Talk at the Beginning

Make sure you’re smiling when you answer the interviewer’s call. Say “hello!” Ask how the interviewer is doing. Say you are doing “great!” when the interviewer asks how you are doing. Be enthusiastic.

While some career coaches argue that you shouldn’t be afraid to mention that this is your first time interviewing on Skype, that kind of admission just sets a bad tone for the interview and makes you seem “outdated.” There is no need to mention that this is your first time being interviewed on Skype. (And it won’t be your first time, because you’ve already done a mock interview.) If you’ve prepared properly, the Skype interview will go just fine.

Also, don’t feel pressured by the technology to start talking. Let the interviewer lead the conversation and the interaction. That’s the interviewer’s job.

Be prepared at the beginning of the interview to answer the infamous tell me about yourself question with an engaging story.

Don’t Look into the Camera When Speaking

Many articles (e.g. this one) from career counselors advise looking into the camera when you are speaking, so it looks like you are making eye contact with the interviewer. While this advice is well-intentioned, it is incorrect. Here’s why.

First, if you’re focusing on looking at the camera, you’re using precious intellectual power to stay focused on the camera, which means you are less focused on what you are saying. Second, unless you’re a television anchor, most people are not used to looking into a camera, and doing this will make you feel nervous (and thus make you a less effective speaker). And third, human interaction is dynamic, and in order to appropriately respond, you need to be focusing on the other person.

(Additionally, if you are looking at the camera, then looking away to observe the interviewer when they are speaking, you will look like you are only sometimes looking at the interviewer.)

The correct solution is to angle the laptop or place the camera so it’s right above the screen. If you angle the monitor or laptop screen correctly, you will not even need to look at the camera to make it look like you are looking at the interviewer’s face.

Practice with a friend beforehand so you know the best way to angle the screen and camera so you don’t have to worry about this.

Smile: You’re a Talking Head

When interviewing on Skype, you are a talking head. You need to make sure that you smile. At minimum, make sure you smile at the beginning of the interview and at the end. Since the interaction is not in person, smiling is a secret weapon that will help the interviewer like you and bring you into the office for an in-person interview.

Answer Questions Using the “SARS Method” and “111 Technique”

When answering interview questions, make sure to tell memorable stories. To make your stories more structured and concise, use the SARS technique (Situation, Action, Result, Sell). Describe a problem you had to solve (the situation), then talk about how you worked to solve it (the action), what the positive result was (Result), and how that experience offers value to the employer (Sell).  

You can make your answer even more concise and polished if you apply the 111 Technique, where you limit your answer to 1 minute for the Situation, 1 minute for the Action, and 1 minute for the Result and Sell. You can learn more about applying the SARS Method and 111 Technique by visiting this interviewing tips article.

Don’t Follow-Up with Chat

Make sure once the interview is completed that you never follow-up with chat over Skype. This comes across as unprofessional. Instead, send a professional thank you letter by email.



Written by: Eric Olavson
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Categories: Job Interview Tips

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