One of my clients was supposed to have a face-to-face interview, but it was scheduled for a day of a Nor Easter. With the interview an impossibility, what would be a plausible alternative? The answer is simple: the company could conduct a Skype interview. And that is what happened.
The future of job interviewing may include increasingly more Skype interviews. If you’re a job seeker and haven’t had a Skype interview yet, chances are you’ll have one soon.
Following are important facts and tips concerning this form of interviewing.
Why do companies conduct Skype interviews?
One reason companies use Skype is because it saves time and money. Instead of having job candidates come in for in-person interviews, companies can put the candidates through the drill over computers, tablets, and even smart phones.
An interviewer can see the candidate’s nonverbal clues, such as body language and facial expressions. Does the person come across as relaxed or nervous? Do they maintain eye contact? Do they look and sound enthusiastic? More so than a telephone interview, Skype is more personal.
One of my close connections, Angela Roberge, recruiter and owner of Accurate Staffing, says this about Skype interviews: “We are in the people ‘business,’ so face-to-face interviews (including Skype) can help you assess the candidate on their ability to present themselves.”
A negative aspect of Skype interviews is its use for discriminating against candidates based on their appearance, including age, race, nationality, etc. Unfortunately the isms exists. On the other hand, interviewers are naturally curious and simply want to see a person before inviting them in for an in-person interview.
A nasty trick an interviewer played on one of my career center customers was turning his camera off, while my customer had to keep hers on. He could see her, but she couldn’t see him. My response to this was that she should have ended the interview immediately.
How seriously should you take Skype Interviews?
Do you take pneumonia seriously? This answers the question. In some cases you could be hired after only being interviewed via phone and Skype, particularly if this precludes the need to fly you to meet with someone at the company.
In essence, treat your Skype interview as you would an in-person interview. This means conducting rigorous research on the position, company, and industry/competition. Make sure you’ve memorized your research, as you don’t want to be caught looking to the side at your notes.
Make sure you’re prepared for the difficult questions. A a telephone interview, when the salary question and a rundown of your qualifications to do the job will take place, will most likely precede a Skype interview.
So during the Skype interview you’ll most likely receive behavioral-based and situation questions that will be more challenging. Your response to the answers will have to be delivered as well as if you were in an in-person interview.
As well, your physical reactions will be gauged by the interviewer in terms of your facial expressions and body language. Will you squirm when answering the weakness questions? Or will you answer it with little emotion? Remember, interviewers are watching you.
Logistics of a Skype Interview?
Along with treating the Skype interview seriously, you must make sure your setting and camera are set up for the best possible conversation. As simple as this may sound, improper lighting, sound, and other logistics could blow the interview.
- Make sure you’re on time for the interview. Discuss with the interviewer who’ll be calling, them or you, and make sure you’re at your computer.
- Be certain that you’re dressed as if you are attending an in-person interview. Some say you can dress well from your waist up only, but what if you have to get something during the discussion? The fact that you’re wearing pajama bottoms will not bode well.
- Make sure the connections is strong. I Skyped with a client in St. Lucia and we had to reconnect a number of times. If you have a weak Internet connection, this could cause problems.
- Your computer’s camera or webcam needs to be eye level; that’s what you’ll be looking at, not the interviewer’s face. Place your laptop on a platform that makes the camera eye-level.
- Your background should have very little on the wall. Make sure it’s not cluttered, which can say something about your personality or that you were too “busy” to tidy up. As well, your background shouldn’t be bland. Some books in the background are a nice touch.
- Sound quality is also important. If you’re in an open room, there may be an echo that is quite noticeable. The more objects in the room the better, as long as they’re not visible to the interviewer.
- Background noise is a no no, just as it is with a telephone interview. Be free of any distractions to you and the interviewer. Your children playing in the other room can be heard, as well as loud outside noise. Often times fire trucks and ambulances ride by my house, so I warn people with whom I’m Skyping of this.
- Lighting is perhaps the most overlooked aspect of a Skype interview. Here are some pointers: Have your laptop facing a window, not behind it. Lamps placed below you will cause an eerie appearance.
Watch this outstanding video of the logistics of a Skype Interview. http://tinyurl.com/zby4u6n
As said earlier, Skype interviews are becoming more common; so you need to be prepared. I suggest you take some time two nights before the interview to set up an account and practice Skyping with a close friend or relative to make sure things go smoothly.
Photo: Flickr, Aleta Pardalis
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