As companies become more geographically spread out and technologically reliant, remote interviews are gaining popularity. When an in-person interview isn’t an option, a Skype interview is often the norm. The same rules of dress, etiquette and strategy apply for these video-based assessments of your skills and compatibility – you want to project professional competence and a good fit for the role – but now there’s an added level of complication. You need to ensure that your technology works on time and that the peek the interviewers are getting into your real private world is a flattering one.
When it comes to acing the interview — think like an Academy Award-winning film director:
Make sure your technology works. Do a couple of practice Skype calls beforehand to make sure you know how to connect reliably and that your camera and microphone allow you to come through clearly. Most jobs these days have a technology component and nothing demonstrates lack of savvy more quickly than being unable to answer the Skype call.
Do a mock interview with a friend over Skype, or in person. Have them lob tough questions at you: “Have you worked with someone you didn’t like? If so, how did you handle it?” and “What did you do during this six month gap in employment on your resume?” You should be able to catch a hot potato like one of the above and lob it back gracefully and in a way that reinforces your professionalism and enthusiasm to work for the company.
Make your setting appropriate. Temporarily take down your Doctor Who standee and move the kegerator. There must be at least one white wall in your place that doesn’t look like a dorm room – use it as a back drop! Make sure the desk is clear of cups, socks, action figures, etc. Be conscientious about backlighting, glare and so on. But also don’t phony-up your interview space too heavily. If your backdrop is a leather-bound library featuring your degrees in Lucite cubes, they’ll be wise to it as well.
Noise levels matter. If you’ve got kids, dogs, construction or a warzone near your house, do whatever you can to ensure the only thing your interviewers can hear is you. You might need to close doors or windows, or even stage the interview at a friend’s house. Silence your cellphone!
Dress for success. Just like a regular job interview, a Skype interview is a chance for a company to see if you can represent their brand effectively. All jacket/tie/no-pants jokes aside, take your appearance on Skype just as seriously as you would an in-person interview.
Update your username. If your current screen name is 1337Hax0rD00d, MyLittlePonyFan1982 or ThaRastaMan420, it might be time to consider something more professional. Use your real first and last names and the digits of your birthday if needs be and leave the more creative handles for your OKCupid profile.
Make eye contact and use an open posture. As mesmerizing as it may be to stare at the tiny portrait of yourself in the corner of a Skype call (who even makes that expression?!), your interviewer is paying attention to your body language. Look directly into the lens of the camera (at the top of your monitor or on your external webcam) and lean in slightly, maintaining an attentive posture. Use your hands to gesture and don’t cross your arms, but be mindful of bumping the table and tapping your knee. Every time the monitor shakes, your interviewer will feel like they’re watching “Cloverfield.”
Be cautious about programs open on your computer. Chat windows that beep or make noise, videos that autoplay, etc. can really cramp your interview style and make you look unprofessional. But having your notes open, having a tab open to the company’s mission statement and the job description and an open Google page can actually help you in a pinch. Be wary of quickly searching every term you don’t recognize, however, especially if you have a noisy keyboard or are a slow typist.
9. Roll Credits:
Always be sure the call is concluded before doing anything else. Double check to make sure the Skype session has ended before you slip into sweatpants, dig into the Ben and Jerry’s and start watching Russian car crash videos. You want your interviewer to get to know you, but not that well.
If you’ve followed the basic tips above, you’ve got a chance at winning that great job. Don’t forget to thank the Academy.