The following tips are for job applicants about to have a Skype interview. The suggestions are created from the interview panelist perspective and my next blog on Wednesday, June 6th will provide suggestions for interview panelists to make the process of a Skype interview better from an applicant’s perspective.
Six ways to increase your success during a Skype interview include:
1.) Be familiar with your video equipment before your begin. The camera’s autofocus, your microphone volume level, the amount of laptop battery-life, and your internet signal strength are just a few tools that need to be considered and managed before you begin the interview. I recommend practicing an hour before with a friend or colleague to ensure a streamlined presentation. You and your interview panel will then be able to focus on the discussion and not be distracted by technical difficulties.
2.) Where is your camera positioned? Avoid setting it on the desk below your head or on a shelf above you. The outcomes of these two positions are unflattering and send mixed signals to the interview panel. For example, I once interviewed a candidate and all I saw was the inside of his nostrils. Ideally, we want to have a conversation with you at eye-level. If your laptop or computer cannot dock a camera around eye-level, use another tool like a tripod.
3.) What is in the background? Make sure to eliminate distractions behind you so that the interviewers focus on you and not other things like your pictures, random people, a messy office, your library collection, or what’s going on outside of the window behind you. It’s funny how much an interview panel reads into the small things and even tries to infer who you are by what surrounds you. Make sure you’re sending the right message.
4.) Practice your eye contact. Yes, talking into a camera can be awkward but Skype and other forms of virtual communication are here to stay; so you need to get comfortable and master the tools. Before your Skype interview, practice speaking into the camera with your eye contact looking into the lens. There isn’t anything more distracting or off-putting than someone whose eye contact is all over the place. This is especially true when the applicant looks down at their own computer screen; all the interview panel sees is your eyelids.
5.) Professional appearance is up to you. Digital interviews rely heavily on the first impression you make. Besides dressing professionally, make sure that your LSF (lighting, sound, and camera frame) are how you want them. I recommend a well-light environment that creates an up-beat and hopeful atmosphere. Dark or overshadowed faces send heavy and sinister messages. For sound, avoid rooms that echo and prevent interruptions such as phone calls, clock chimes, dogs barking, or doorbells ringing. Lastly, the frame refers to what the camera includes in your presentation. Adjust the frame so that it records more than a super close headshot but don’t include your entire body. I recommend your frame includes your upper torso (above your elbows and higher) to present a comfortable and professional video presence.
6) Be prepared. Confidence and organization shine through Skype interviews and significantly affect your first impression. Have a notepad, pen, a bottle of water, important questions for the interview panel, your resume, and the job description next to your computer (out-of-sight but clear and accessible if needed). Remember, you’re interviewing the organization and interview panel just as much as they are interviewing you. A goodness of fit should be established by you and them so show the panel that you’re really interested in their answers to your questions by taking notes and giving follow-up questions. Also, try small-talk or casual jokes during the interview. Most applicants using Skype are nervous and uncomfortable but preparation will help you be successfully memorable merely by being confident, comfortable, and prepared.
Good luck and let me know if this helps.