For today’s topic, we are going to talk about how to prepare for a Skype interview. There are a series of tips and tricks that you should follow to guarantee a great Skype interview experience.
Before we dive into the tips, a little background on interviewing and why video interviews have really taken off. In the past, it used to be common for you to receive a phone call inviting you to an interview at the company or arranging for a quick phone chat. Although phone calls for interviews still exist, many employers have started using Skype, Zoom, Google Hangout, and other video conferencing software to conduct their interviews. These tools are easy, free, and give employers a better idea of who the candidate is.
Let’s dive in and see how you can position yourself for success with some skype interview tips.
Use a Professional Skype Username
Although this is self-explanatory, let’s clarify. Try to use your name like Philip Chesney or Philip.Chesney or something similar. Depending on your name, it may be difficult to get the exact name (many people have similar names and have already claimed them on Skype), so you may have to add an extra number at the end or in the middle like PhilipChesney85.
Avoid using names like IAmTheStrongestManAlive, Prince_Charming, God_father or some other quirky name that will probably raise some eyebrows. Keep it professional. You want to create a great first impression even before you meet the recruiter. A thing as simple as a username can make a difference in making a good or bad first impression.
Do NOT underestimate the negative impact of a poorly chosen username.
Accept the Skype Call
There will be times when you receive a random phone call and recruiters will want to schedule a Skype call with you. Make sure you accept it. In some cases, you may have not had a Skype interview before and might be a bit timid, but make sure you say Yes to the call. Don’t say, “Could we possibly do a phone call?”
This will not sit well with the recruiter and you may not get the interview at all. The interview might say something like, “I will send a few available times” but those times are never sent. Don’t be surprised. You can’t afford to have this happen. Accept the Skype call invitation and schedule it with the recruiter.
Only push for a phone call if you are in an area that has bandwidth issues and a video conference would not be possible or good enough to have a good interview. If this is the case, quickly explain this and try for a phone call.
A rule of thumb on how to prepare for a skype interview – accept the Skype interview / video conference regardless of bandwidth issues. If there are connectivity problems, propose turning off the camera to try to improve the connection.
Dress to Impress – Skype Interview Tips
How should I dress for an online video interview? Many amateurs or first-time interviewers miss the mark and believe that a phone call and a Skype video conference are NOT real interviews. Therefore, they do not dress the part. HUGE mistake. You should dress as you would for a normal interview, no ifs, ands, or buts. No exceptions.
From your first contact with the recruiter to the first time they see you on camera, they will be judging you. Make sure you dress appropriately. Wear a suit and tie or other formal attire for this virtual interview.
Use a Well-Lighted Area with Clean background
Your background tells a lot about you. Why do I say this? If you have a messy background, this means, you are probably a disorganized person, perhaps someone the interviewer will not want on the team or maybe not a good fit for the company.
I have interviewed several people in the past where it looked like a tornado went through the room. This does you a tremendous disservice and works against you. It raises flags and makes you wonder about how organized the person is, among other things. Additionally, it is distracting. You want the interviewer to be 100% focused on you, and how you are the solution to the company’s problem, challenge, or need!
To remedy this problem, sit in front of a plain wall. Wall colors of white, blue, light green show up the best and emphasize your face. Also, have a clean wall. Try to avoid being in front of multiple pictures or large windows as this can be distracting to the interviewer. The next thing you need to do is turn on a few lamps and see how you appear on camera. Do a couple of test calls on Skype with friends or even a parent in the other room to see how you appear on camera.
Check your lighting. Can the other person see your face? If not, grab another light and stick it in the room to add more lighting. The worst thing that you can do is have a Skype interview in the dark. That will not get you any points.
One last thing: stick a couple of books under your laptop to make sure your video camera is at eye level. Depending on where your computer and its webcam are, it may appear as the camera is looking up at you or down at you. The best scenario is to have it looking straight at you.
How to prepare for a skype interview major tip – You want this Skype interview to seem as if it were a real face-to-face interview at an office. Having your webcam at eye level and you looking into it when talking makes a huge difference.
Use a Good Webcam and Headset
If the interviewer can’t hear you well, then the Skype interview is going to be a disaster. I remember an interview I had where my connection was bad, and my audio kept on cutting out, it was horrible, and the overall interview experience was bad. As you can imagine, I didn’t get the job. It is hard to sell yourself when the other person can’t hear you. For a mic, you can use the ones that come with your iPhone or Android device; these normally work fine. Just make sure to test them before you start the video conference. Mitigate these risks before the big interview.
It is also vital that you have a good webcam. The whole idea behind a video conference is for the other person to see you. If the camera image is grainy, dark, blurry, or looks like you are in a sandstorm, it defeats the purpose.
How to prepare for a Skype interview double tip: if you plan on using your tablet or phone to do the interview, that is fine, just make sure you place the devices on a fixed surface, like a table. You don’t want to be holding the device for a half hour and constantly shaking it or constantly be propping it up or against a book. Also, try to place it at eye level for the best experience. If you are going to use a laptop or desktop, open up the sound and video panel on Skype or other video conferencing software and check the audio and video quality.
Look into the Camera
This can be kind of strange, but you really want to seem like you are looking into the eyes of the interviewer. So, to do this, you need to look and talk directly into your webcam. If you are looking into other areas of your screen it will seem like you are looking at other areas of the recruiter’s office and not at the person. Looking into the camera will help create more trust. I know it sounds strange, but it’s true. Think about it. When talking to someone in an office, at school, or anywhere, we typically look the other person in their eyes. Why should Skype interviews be any different?
Be Prepared for Tech Glitches
Earlier I mentioned my story when my internet was cutting out, so the other person could not hear or see me well. That was a disaster. Tech glitches happen, and you need to be prepared for them. Come up with a backup plan.
How to prepare for a skype interview back-up plan: If you are using your home internet and it goes down, use your phones 4G as a backup. Have your phone and headset ready to rejoin the video conference just in case. Make sure you have the app installed on your phone and save your information for a quick login. Thinking about these things ahead of time will help you rebound in case your connection goes down.
Eliminate Disturbances and other Ambient Noises
This is a must-follow tip. If you live in a dorm room, your parent’s house or with other people at a place, you need to make sure you won’t be bothered or interrupted during your interview. Start by letting everyone know that you will be in a meeting from time-time e.g. 2:00pm – 2:30pm. You could say something like, “I have an interview on 4/16 at 4pm. During this time, I can’t take any calls, nor can I be disturbed. The meeting should end by 4:30pm, but I will let you know when it finishes.”
The other evil of Skype calls are ambient noises. I say evil because it is terrible when someone’s dog starts barking and your mic picks up and transmits this through the call. This will drive anyone insane, make them jump out of their seat, and must be avoided at all costs! You need to be in an area that doesn’t have any noise from the street; this could be motorcycles, dogs barking, babies crying, or whatever noise that your mic could pick up and transmit. Shield yourself from these things because you want to make a great first impression and have a smooth Skype Interview. You want to be able to focus and get called back for a second interview!
Be aware of your body language and the non-verbal cues you are giving the interviewer. Super important. You may be scratching your head, playing with your hair, spinning a pen, moving back and forth, picking your nails, or something else. Watch out for this as it is giving signals to your interviewer. The interview can tell that Phil is a little nervous or something, and you don’t want to show them this.
You want to show your best and most professional self. You want to seem cool, calm, and collected. I strongly suggest that you go on camera beforehand and do a mock interview answering questions that you expect to be asked.
How to prepare for a skype interview tip: Do a practice run. Record it. Watch it and see what things you can tighten up. Be self-critical when doing this exercise.
As mentioned at the end of the last tip, go ahead and record yourself. You can go into iMovie or Windows Movie Maker or other programs that can record your image and audio. Make sure you look directly into the front camera. Go through a series of questions that you might be asked in a first interview like, “Tell me about yourself?”, “Why do you want to work for this company?”, “What are 3 strengths?”, “What is your greatest weakness?” And maybe a few others. Record your session and then watch it. What are some of the areas you can improve? Be self-critical. Interviewing takes practice. Take the time to do this. You will notice a marked difference next time you go into an interview whether it be face-to-face or a Skype interview, you will see a great improvement.
Ten Tips On How To Prepare For A Skype Interview
- Use a Professional Skype Username
- Accept the Skype Call – Do not push for a phone call instead.
- Dress to Impress – Dress as you would for an in-company interview.
- Use a Well-Lighted Area with Clean Background
- Use a Good Webcam and Headset
- Look into the Camera – Make it seem like you are looking into the interviewer’s eyes.
- Be Prepared for Tech Glitches – Have a back-up plan in case your connection goes down.
- Eliminate Disturbances and Other Ambient Noises
- Body Language – Be aware of your body language and the non-verbal cues
- Record Yourself – Record your session and then watch it to correct it.
Having online interviews, whether they are on Skype, Zoom, Google hangout, or whatever other platform are here to stay! I know I have just scratched the surface in how to prepare for a Skype interview, but this will push you in the right direction in your job preparation and interviewing.
Have any tips that have worked for you in your previous Skype interviews? Drop me a message in the comments section below to share it with the community.
For more Job-hunting and Interview tips, check out the CareerPrep blog and CareerPrep Youtube channel. As always, Learn. Practice. Succeed!