Skype All the Way to a New Job

Hey, did you know you can get grilled right from the comfort of your own favourite chair? Thanks to Skype, now you can. And, even if you knew that already, do you know how to best come across during this relatively new development in interviewing? Although it involves the interview and the interviewer seeing each other, it‘s not at all like real-life interviews, so if you need some pointers, read on and ace your next, er, Skypeview.
What‘s the deal, Skype?
It‘s possible that one day you will come across a potential employer asking if she or he can interview you via Skype. Although developed as a social tool, it is now frequently used as a professional device to conduct live screen-to-face conversations, especially if the employer you‘re after is based somewhere where travel would be too expensive or if a real-life interview would be impossible due to time constraints. Please note that although Skype is free to download you might have to use a set of headphones with a microphone to be able to take advantage of it properly. Some computers have good enough speaker and microphone settings built in, so you might be able to skip this step. The one step you can‘t skip is the camera — the computer you‘re using has to have a camera setting (if your computer doesn‘t have a camera you‘re going to have to purchase one and hook it up).
According to Ben Davies‘ Job Interviews by Skype, “One of the key differences between being interviewed by Skype and a face-to-face interview is that you don‘t have that direct physical presence. Although you can see them in real time, there is something different about it.” The lack of physical presence may make it slightly awkward for first-time users and those who rely on charm to make an impression. The key to making an impression is through what you have to say and how professional you look. Davies writes that one advantage is that you can have a cheat sheet of sorts, such as printed out notes with information so that you stay on topic (though be careful not to appear as if you‘re just reading off of what‘s stuck on your screen). Another advantage is that for some people the confines of their own living room are much more relaxing than an unfamiliar office setting. Still, there’s a lot more to Skype than just downloading the software and making sure the speakers work.
How to prepare for your Skype interview
  • You need to download and check the software. Skype will prompt you to test your microphone and speakers as well as your video settings but don‘t rely on those only. Set up a couple of Skype conversations with a friend to test all the equipment. Make sure that you‘re able to receive voice and video and that they are able to receive yours. Do a test run (call) before the actual interview — don‘t leave it till the last minute. You don‘t want to be scrambling around looking for cables, adjusting volume and so on while the interview happens.
  • When setting up your interview, ensure you‘ve got the right time. If you‘re going to be speaking with someone across the globe your time zones won’t be the same so pick a time that works for both sides. Also, figure out other rules ahead of time, such as who contacts whom first if the connection is lost and through what channel (phone, email, etc.) if Skype isn‘t working.
  • According to Debra Wheatman‘s article How to Prepare for a Job Interview on Skype, your lighting should also be something to consider — bright light will create a glare, so find a spot in your house where the light is best. And, since we‘re on the topic of finding the perfect spot, use your common sense and remove any things from the background (your ceramic kitten collection, the painting of a dictator, etc.) that would distract the interviewer. Keep it as plain as you can.
  • Ask your roommates and/or family to stay out of the room where you‘re interviewing. Make sure your pets are not interrupting — a particularly whiny cat or a barking dog can jeopardize your chances so keep them away as well.
  • Besides taking care of your background, you have to take care of your look. Wheatman writes that you can be wearing boxer shorts with pink polka-dots on them, but do make your upper body look professional. In Dressing Up to Work at Home. Am I Nuts?, Alex Simmonds writes that it was only after he put on a suit and a clean shirt that his productivity and work ethic improved (at the same time, some argue that this idea of dressing up at home is nuts). But for the actual Skype interview skip the pink polka-dot shorts after all and dress up how you would to go to an interview to keep yourself in check (because, seriously, how would you be able to resist the temptation to tell your prospective employer about the wacky shorts?). Further on, apply the same rules you would to a regular job interview — Wheatman says this means “neatly groomed hair and no chunky or distracting jewelry” either.
  • You have to follow the same rules as you would when undergoing a regular interview, so no chewing gum, no answering cell phones and no getting up in the middle of the interview to do something. Imagine you are in the room with the potential employer — do what you would do if you were. Davies writes that with Skype you also have to take turns speaking — even more so than in real life — otherwise voices will become unclear and muffled.
  • Maintain eye contact by looking at the camera and not the screen, Davies reminds. Pay attention to what the interviewer is saying and don’t fidget.
  • Finally, if there are technical difficulties, remember that there‘s no shame in asking your interviewer to repeat the question. Also, if the connection is lost on your end, don‘t panic — call back or wait for the employer to call you back. And with the immediacy of text messaging and emailing you should be able to get hold of the employer even if Skype doesn‘t come back on right away.
Article Written By: Jowita Bydlowska -

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