Interviewing used to be an either-or process: It was either in person or over the telephone. But VOIP applications such as Skype have changed the traditional interviews by introducing a strange hybrid: the video conference interview. Read on for some tips on how to give a great Skype interview.
It isn’t very professional to bring notes to an interview, and you might be nervous about flipping through professional documents at a face-to-face interview. But when you’re giving your interview at your desk in the comfort of your own home, you can have a wealth of documents on-screen or just off camera. With a click, you can reference your cover letter or resume. Don’t risk drawing a mental blank when the interviewer asks you what day it was that you finished the coursework for your online masters degree in human resource management programs or by what percent you raised sales figures at the job you had five years ago.
Role Play With a Friend
Before the interview, practice in a mirror or on Skype with a friend so that you have minimal anxiety when you’re on the spot. Ask a friend to watch your mannerisms and other facial expressions carefully on his video camera and give you feedback on how confident you look. You might be using poorer posture and less animated facial expressions than you normally would because you’re so used to sitting at the computer for other purposes.
Check and Double-Check Your Equipment
You may have just used Skype to call your mother yesterday, but you still need to check and re-check your equipment before your interview. This will help you avoid being disadvantaged by minor glitches, such as headphones that are not plugged in correctly, laptops with dangerously low batteries, or microphones that suddenly present a lot of feedback.
Dress for the Job You Want
Because a key component of the video conference interview is video, you’re going to need to dress professionally. You also need to take into consideration what job it is that you’re applying for. Imagine that you were going to go to the interview in person. What would you wear? Dress to impress for your Skype interview as well.
Do a Background Check — of the Room
Don’t just consider what you will look like, think about the room you’ll be sitting in when you give your interview. Because it’s not guaranteed that your video quality will be HD-worthy, it’s best to neutralize any colors or shapes that might be visible behind you while you talk. Your interviewers should be looking at you and listening to what you say — not trying to figure out if that purple splotch behind your head is a wall hanging or a mold invasion. Noise should also be kept to an absolute minimum while you’re talking. Even low music can seriously disrupt the sound quality of your interview.
Use the Lighting to Your Advantage
Once you have a nice background for your interview, see what you can do to make the light flatter you. Computer video cameras that have a built-in light usually go for function rather than form. Don’t rely on this and expect it to make you look good. Instead, bring one or more lighting sources into the room and imagine it’s a photographer’s studio. You want to put light on your face, but you don’t want that to be so harsh you look like you’re undergoing an interrogation. If your interview is during daylight hours, try to sit near a window, but be careful that the camera doesn’t point at the window — if so, all the interviewer will see is your silhouette.
Don’t Talk With Your Hands
When you’re on camera, make eye contact, smile, and try not to make too many gestures with your hands. Video cameras on a conference call won’t catch the smooth movement of hands; instead, gesticulating with your arms too much might create a distracting, blurry smear on your interviewer’s video feed. It’s best to keep your hands in your lap or relaxed in front of you, just like you would at a face-to face interview.
Quick tip: Make sure that your LinkedIn profile is updated. While the interview will help them decide, recruiters will find time to check your online profile. If you’d like to attract top employers to your LinkedIn profile, check out Joshua’s LinkedIn Writing Service.
About the Author: Dawn Trainer is a human resources consultant at Catholic University who often interviews new recruits over the phone or using VOIP technology.