Job interviews over Skype are becoming increasingly common. You might be able to see one another, but a virtual interview over the internet is not the same as one face to face and you need to prepare accordingly.
Here are some considerations to help you embrace technology and master a Skype interview.
Should you still dress as if you are in a face-to-face interview? Yes – general interview etiquette still applies. “The dynamics are different, with body language being the main barrier, so it is vital to make a good impression based on your dress and surroundings,” says Matthew Roberts, CEO at NonExecutiveDirectors.com, a network site for employers.
Don’t be tempted just to dress smartly from the waist-up, assuming that’s all the interviewer will see, warns Graham Oates, CEO of Norrie Johnston Recruitment. “I’ve been in plenty of Skype interview situations where the candidate has had to stand up.” Being in formal dress will also help you to feel like it is a formal interview and put you in the right frame of mind, he adds.
Pick your backdrop wisely
How much attention will be paid to where you are sitting for the interview? The safe rule of thumb is to assume that a lot of attention will be given to your surroundings – so set up well in advance and take time to look at how the interviewer will see you.
“Find a neutral, tidy spot if possible. Mess, pot plants or food may subconsciously impact an interviewer’s view of the meeting and reflect badly on you,” says Jonathan Bennet, a director at Capita Resourcing. His advice is to set yourself up so the interviewer can see your face, hair, shoulders and upper torso. Consider the lighting and how you are sat too. “They don’t want a giant, poorly lit face talking at them for an hour.” Also, make sure you are in a quiet room which will not be interrupted.
Get to grips with the technology beforehand
Before you begin, make sure you’ve got to grips with the technology to avoid any last minute panic, especially if you haven’t used Skype before. “Set up a practice interview with a friend to make sure you are happy with how you come across on screen as well as being able to confidently use the system,” suggests Roberts. Check your microphone is properly set, your voice is audible, the picture quality is good and that you are in a spot with a strong internet connection.
But if technology fails midway through, don’t panic, says David Cairncross, director at Hays. “If a problem with your technology throws you off during your interview, just remain professional,” he says. The interviewer will be aware that some things are out of your control, should anything happen start the call again to regain a connection, and quickly make contact to update the interviewer so you can continue as soon as possible.
Don’t be late
“You wouldn’t dream of turning up late for a face-to-face interview, so having to delay one over Skype because you haven’t done your technical groundwork is inexcusable,” says Oates. Call and get it all setup a few minutes early to avoid any awkwardness. Equally, have your notes ready and a glass of water to hand so you aren’t fiddling with papers or getting a dry mouth once you make a start.
Remember body language
Skype interviews leave little room for those informal interactions you might have on the walk from reception or the ride in the lift – so it is important your eye contact and facial expressions are not compromised by the technology either.
“Remember to look at the camera – not the screen – that way the interviewer will feel you are maintaining eye contact,” says Oates. “Remember to smile and have an engaged and pleasant facial expression. Try to forget you are talking to a computer screen and imagine the interviewer being physically in the room with you.”