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How-to: Skype interviews

Companies and universities are increasingly turning to Skype to save time and travelling costs. Even prestigious organizations such as the Harvard Law School have turned to Skype to screen potential applicants in the admissions process. Virtual interviews using videoconferencing software such Skype are quickly becoming a norm in the professional and academic worlds. Here are some tips to make sure you ace your virtual interview:

  1. Fine-tune your environment: Try to remove any distracting elements from your interviewing environment. A distracting environment can serve to distract both your interviewer and you. You ideal interviewing environment should be silent, stationary (no moving objects or television images), and without people crossing in front of your camera. Your environment should also look professional. An apartment with clothes strewn across the floor is not going serve your professional image. Also, take down any posters, pin ups, or any other displays that might give the wrong impression.

  2. Optimize your lighting: Another important thing to consider is the lighting in your environment. Test the light so that you face and environment is evenly lit and flattering. Make sure the lighting is bright but not glaring. If a light source in your background is causing glare try shifting your position or covering that light source with a thin piece of cloth. Make sure the room is well lit, and that you are sitting in an area where you have lots of natural light. If you are having trouble finding a quiet, professional, and well-lit environment visit or call the Center for Career Opportunities to book one of our many interview rooms.

  3. Eliminate distractions: Receiving Facebook notifications or having a YouTube video start during your interview is both distracting and unprofessional. Before your interview, make sure all windows apart from Skype are closed. Keep a wary eye out for windows or notifications that have audio.

  4. Look into the camera: Make sure that you maintain eye contact with the camera throughout the entire interview. Eye contact is a powerful tool even through a computer screen. During a Skype conversation there’s the temptation to look at the little image of you in the corner of the screen or at the interviewer. You can remove the image of yourself by altering your Skype settings.

  5. Position yourself correctly: Sit slightly further away from the computer screen as you normally would. Position yourself so your face and upper shoulders are framed by the shot. Additionally, place your screen slightly higher than you normally do to avoid hunching and looking down on the webcam. Make sure that your screen is positioned so that you are looking straight in to the webcam.

  6. Choose your clothing carefully: Dark colors such as shades of blue – royal, navy, sky blue – look great on video while others like reds and hot colors like magenta can be too bright. Patterns like small dots or stripes can be less attractive than solids so think about a color to wear that is easy on the eye and a pattern that won’t be distracting to your viewer. Also, wear pants. Even if only your head and torso will show for the majority of the interview, you make find yourself needing to stand up to fetch some odd document.

  7. Check your username: Take a look at your username to make sure it looks professional. Having an interviewer dial in to “PartyDude1991” will not give your interviewer a positive first impression. At this point it might be worth cleaning up your social media presence. Be sure to remove inappropriate posts from your Facebook page or tweak your privacy settings to prevent any unwanted snooping into your private life.

  8. Prepare notes: If there are some key points you really want to bring up during the interview, be sure to have them listed on a note next to your computer but out of the webcam’s field of vision. Also, keep a pen and some paper handy so you can jot down some points of conversation you can bring up later in the questions portion of the interview.

  9. Test the system: Before your interview make sure that both the software and hardware if working. Try doing a test call to a friend or family member to test your webcam and Skype. Also, be sure to plug in your charger if you are using a laptop to prevent your machine shutting down mid-interview.

  10. Don’t forget to follow up: As with any interview, be sure to send a thank you email and/or thank you note within the same business day of the Skype call, paying special attention to grammar and punctuation.

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