10 Tips for a Great Skype Interview
Great news, your application has been shortlisted, the Principal has been in touch and the school would like to schedule a Skype interview with you next week! It’s amazing news: you’re excited and perhaps a bit nervous, but there is a large part of you that has already visualised yourself in your new overseas role. The opportunity is so close that you can almost taste it, but wait a minute…you may want to consider these tips first.
It doesn’t make for a great Skype call when every other sentence is the phrase ‘Can you hear me now?’ A dodgy connection can really put you off your stride, but more importantly, might frustrate your interviewer, who may well have a number of interviews scheduled.
It’s always good to test your connection and equipment beforehand. You can make use of the ‘Tools’ option in Skype to see how your microphone and video is performing. If you’re not sure how your Skype connection is going to perform, it’s always good to hook up with a colleague or a relative well before your interview to test your connectivity. If you usually use a VPN, it’s best to switch this off. Whilst it might be useful for accessing Facebook or foreign media in some countries, your VPN can actually slow down your Skype connection. If your computer struggles to function with most of operations, don’t risk it! Be nice to a colleague and borrow someone else’s.
The beauty of a Skype interview over a face-to-face interview is that you get to choose where the conversation takes place, which gives you an element of control. However, holding the interview in the comfort of your own home might give you more confidence and can certainly help put you more at ease. The downside of this is that your personal environment is full of plenty of distractions and lots of potential unanticipated interruptions. So, give some thought beforehand about those everyday occurrences that could get in the way. For example, make sure that your telephone is unplugged, your mobile is switched off, that any pets you might have are in another room and if you have any small children ask your partner to take them out whilst your Skype interview is taking place.
A picture, as is often said, is worth a thousand words. So ensure that your profile picture reflects the person that you want to portray. It’s best to avoid cartoon figures, your holiday snap or an image of you with your friends whilst out on the town. Keep it simple; it doesn’t have to be formal but it’s always best to go for a friendly smile
The best candidates are usually the most prepared. With Skype however, you can have your notes with you, by your side, without the interviewer knowing that you are making reference to data and information to enhance your answers. In addition, write down questions in advance that you might want to ask at the end of the interview. Also, have a pen (and a spare one!) handy so that you can write down valuable information during the interview. It’s always best, if you don’t know beforehand, to write down the names and positions of the people who are carrying out the interview so that you can refer back to them and use them during the interview.
You are letting the interviewer into your space and as well as your own personal appearance, the background and surroundings that the interviewer can see can say a lot about you as a person. It’s less of a problem if you choose a work environment to host your interview, but if you elect to use your home, make sure that all visible surroundings are organised and not distracting. It’s always best to go for a plain background so move furniture around temporarily so that your background is a wall. If you want to see some really good examples of how interviewees frame themselves, pay special attention to watching experts or politicians on TV news when they are interviewed in their homes. Interesting, 9 times out of 10 they are sitting in front of a well-stocked bookcase of academic tomes.
The angle of the camera is very important and the proximity of your face to the camera is also worth considering. Ideally, you want the camera showing your face, shoulders and upper arms. When you interact with the interviewer you want to make sure that you use all of your brilliant communication skills to the full. That, of course, includes your hands which we all use to make those vital non-verbal communication gestures to enhance what we are saying. Clearly, if all the interviewer can see is your face filling the screen, then that’s a huge chunk of you which is lost.
Ideally the camera should be at the same height as your face rather that pointing up at you. The last thing the interviewer wants to see is the inside of your nostrils. If your screen is too low, prop up your device on a pile of books, but do make sure that your temporary stand is stable - you don’t want it collapsing mid-point through the interview.
As with every interview, you should pay particular attention to what you wear. Just because you’re sitting at home, doesn’t mean that you should neglect the formality of the event. It’s always best to be overdressed rather than underdressed. Let’s face it, a well-dressed candidate reflects the seriousness and importance to which that individual is attaching the Skype call. Avoid just dressing up the part of you that can be seen by the camera. Getting dressed for the Skype call will put you in the right zone mentally, and will help give you that focussed frame of mind. And who knows, what if something unexpected happened in the interview which meant you had to stand up only to reveal that you were still wearing your pyjama trousers! How embarrassing!
If your Skype interview is set for 9.00 am and it is now 9.05 am, don’t panic and think that you have the time wrong or that the interviewer is not going to call you. Be patient, the interviewer might be calling you from a different time zone and you might be the fifth person he is calling for the post. It’s quite common for an interview schedule to move a little as a previous interview might have run over or been delayed. It’s always best to provide the interviewee with a phone number that you can be reached upon if there is a delay or a change in the arrangements. Additionally, when the interview is scheduled, find out the Skype name of the interviewer so that you can send a Skype invitation well in advance.
This is linked to the first point. More proficient, confident users of Skype might fall foul of this mistake. The chances are that the one time when you want your computer and software to run perfectly, it won’t! Potential disasters here include… your computer decides to run an auto update, your version of Skype is out of date, your old Skype password isn’t recognised or your Skype has been blocked due to unauthorised access detected on your account. Check, check and check again!
The best interviewers, whether face-to-face or via Skype, will get the best out of the candidate. If you are stressed, anxious or nervous, you won’t be showing your true personality. Hopefully, by following all the above pointers, you will have the confidence and the preparedness to achieve at the highest level and to get the job of your dreams.