Skype interview success

Skype interviews are becoming increasingly common and they do have some advantages – you don’t need to spend time travelling to an employer’s offices, and you can be interviewed from the comfort of your own home. Unlike a pre-recorded video interview, a Skype interview allows you to talk live to a real person, preserving the human interaction which is so important in a face-to-face interview.

However, they can also be stressful: you might find that you’re worrying about the possibility of internet connection problems rather than focusing on the questions, and reading the social cues and body language of your interviewer can be much more difficult over video.

Preparing for a Skype interview should be different in certain ways from the preparation you would do for an in-person interview; focused preparation can help you to deal with the specific challenges that video interviews pose.

  1. Download Skype well before the date of the interview. Practice using it if you’re not already familiar with how it works. Make sure that your Skype name and photograph are professional.
  2. Practice answering questions on video: ask a friend or family member to log on to Skype, ask you interview questions and give you honest and critical feedback on your answers and body language. Ask them to tell you if you are fidgeting too much, if you’re audible and if you come across as engaged and interested. Practicing on video will familiarise you with the process and help it to feel less strange on the day. You might even want to record yourself so that you can review your own performance and identify areas for improvement. It is a good idea to try and have the practice interview at the same time of day as the real interview will be, so that you can check the lighting – you want to avoid being in a location which is either too bright or too dark.
  3. It can sometimes be difficult to make eye-contact on Skype – you need to look into the camera, not into the screen – so, during your practice interview, ask your friendly interviewer if you are looking directly at them and adjust as necessary. You might need to put your computer on a pile of books to make it easier to look straight into the camera. Avoid looking at the image of yourself which appears in the bottom right of the screen. This image can be very distracting, so you might want to turn it off using settings.
  4. An advantage of a Skype interview is the possibility to refer discreetly to notes. However, you need to be careful about how you do this. Reading pre-prepared answers from a piece of paper will look stilted and unnatural and may suggest that you’re not confident in your responses. Instead of a script, have a list of bullet points outlining topics you want to mention – perhaps attached to the wall behind your computer – which you can glance at quickly to help your memory. Practice doing this beforehand on video so that you can check if you’re able to refer to it inconspicuously.
  5. Think about what you’re going to wear. Dress appropriately formally, the way you would for an in-person interview. Wear your interview outfit when you do your practice with a friend, so they can tell you how it looks on screen – video can distort colours and patterns.
  6. Decide ahead of time where the interview will take place. You’ll need a quiet room so make sure that your housemates or familyknow when your interview will be, and don’t decide to interrupt you or vacuum or play loud music. You should also make sure that the background which the interviewer will see when you’re on screen is professional – remove any piles of laundry, wine glasses or distracting posters in shot.
  7. On the day make sure that you log in to Skype early to iron out any technical problems. Plug your computer in, so that it doesn’t run out of battery. Close any tabs which produce audible notifications, like Facebook or Gmail. If anything goes wrong during the interview, don’t panic! Remain calm and take sensible steps to resolve the problem. Your interviewer will understand that technology sometimes fails, so use any problems as an opportunity to demonstrate your resilience.
  8. Don’t sit too close to the computer; your shoulders and upper body should be visible to the interviewer, as body language is a crucial part of communication.
  9. When you’re at home and feel comfortable, it can be easy to forget that you’re still facing a formal interview. Make sure that you sit up straight and speak clearly.
  10. Be careful not to interrupt the interviewer – sometimes there is a time lag on Skype, so make sure that they have definitely finished speaking before you respond.

Good luck!

If you’ve taken a Skype interview and have any further tips you’d like to share, or if you’d like to blog about your interview experience, why not get in touch? Email careers@qmul.ac.uk

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