How to Use Skype for Video Job Interviews

Businessman working in office
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To save on interviewing costs and to streamline the job interview process, companies are turning to their computers instead of phones and offices to conduct interviews.

Skype, an online phone and video service, has become the most popular way to conduct long-distance or even international video interviews.

Sometimes companies use Skype for first-round interviews (similar to a phone interview). Other times, companies will use Skype for second-round, or even third-round, interviews.

For job candidates, the convenience of interviewing from home is a major bonus. It can save you both travel time and money. If you prepare for a Skype interview in advance, it can also be less stressful than interviewing in person.

Tips for Preparing for a Skype Interview

There are a few steps you need to take before your Skype interview in order to be prepared:

  • Download the software at least a few days in advance of the interview. While there are Skype platforms that cost money, it is generally free to video chat with other Skype users.
  • Create a professional username. With Skype, people can search for you by your first and last name. Make sure you don’t use any unprofessional nicknames in your Skype name.
  • Do a test call or two with your friends or family. Make sure you can easily make and answer a call. Check to see that your microphone and camera work. Practice getting comfortable looking at the camera for long periods of time.
    • Adjust the lighting. Be sure you have enough lighting to avoid any heavy shadows. However, make sure the lighting is not too bright either, because that can wash you out or even blind the interviewer. You can figure out lighting issues during your practice interview.
    • Check the background. While you are the focus of the Skype video, remember that the interviewer will also see whatever is behind you. Before the interview, select your backdrop. Pick a bare wall to ensure there are no distractions or color clashes with your attire. If you need to be in a public space, find the quietest area and be sure to wear a headset to help block out background noises. If you live with other people (or pets) and are doing the interview in your home, tell everyone you live with not to interrupt you during the interview.
    • Test everything again an hour or two before the interview. Make sure the microphone and camera work to ensure everything is in order.
    • Prep in the traditional sense as well. Do the kind of preparation you would do for any interview. Review your resume and cover letter, practice answering common interview questions ahead of time, and research the company.
    • Know who is contacting whom. Make sure that, before the interview, you know whether you are supposed to reach out to the interviewer or vice versa. If you are supposed to reach out, ask for their Skype name ahead of time. Before the interview, find the person on Skype, and add him or her to your list of contacts. This will make it easier to contact them if you are asked to.

      Tips for a Successful Skype Interview

      There are also things you can do during the Skype interview to make sure you look polished and professional:

      Smile and focus. In many ways, a Skype interview is just like any other interview. For example, whether you are interviewing in person or via Skype, remember to smile!

      Smiling will ensure that you look engaged and enthusiastic about the position you are interviewing for. Remember to focus your eyes on the camera – not on the person’s face – to make it look like you’re making direct eye contact. Scanning the room or looking away from the camera too much can make you appear untrustworthy or indifferent. The interviewer deserves your full attention, so stay focused and friendly. Smiling can also help you remain calm.

      Another way to focus is to exit out of any other applications on your computer. You don’t want any pop-up windows distracting you during the interview.

      Dress to impress. Just because you are interviewing in a casual setting does not mean your attire should match your surroundings. Wear what you would wear to any in-person interview. This will help you feel more confident as well. Dress in a way that reflects both your personality and the position for which you are interviewing. Just watch out for specific colors, like red and hot colors, which can be too bright for the camera. Crazy patterns may also clash with the camera. Stick with solids.

      Put your best face forward. Again, treat the Skype interview as any in-person interview when it comes to your appearance. For women, it is fine to wear a bit more makeup than you would in an in-person interview, as it doesn’t show up as well on camera. Wear the amount that makes you feel confident. You can spot conceal, apply highlighter under your eyes, use a brown eyeliner and mascara to make your eyes pop, and/or put on a dab of pink lipstick. You can wear jewelry, but make sure it isn’t too flashy or distracting (for example, avoid jangly, noisy earrings).

      For both men and women, make sure your hair is well groomed.

      Bring notes, paper, and a pen. It is useful to have a few brief bullet points in front of you about what you want to highlight during the interview. Sometimes, conversations can go in unexpected directions, and it can be easy to forget your talking points. This way, you can scan your notes without losing direct contact with the interviewer. However, make sure to practice answering interview questions in advance, so that you don’t stare down at your paper. Remember that eye contact is important.

      Keep a blank paper and a pen handy to jot down anything you’d like to comment on later in the conversation. 

      You might also keep a glass of water handy in case your throat gets dry. However, don’t keep it too close to your computer – you don’t want to spill and have a technical malfunction!

      Don’t panic if technology fails. With any technology, there is the chance for a glitch. When you start the interview, you might want to make sure the person can see and hear you. If anything goes wrong during the interview, don’t panic. Remain calm and friendly. You might suggest hanging up and trying the video call again. Make sure you have the person’s email address or phone number, so you can contact them in case you completely lose each other.

      The right body language is key. You do not want your interviewer assuming his or her screen froze at any point during the interview. Therefore, make sure your body language expresses that you are engaged.

      As the other party speaks, subtly nod your head to express your understanding or agreement. And as you speak, lean forward and use subtle hand gestures to add enthusiasm to what you are saying. But don’t over-do it. To avoid looking blurry on screen, don’t make any dramatic hand gestures or nod your head too quickly.

      Also be sure to sit up straight. This will not only make you look more professional, but it will also help you to feel confident.