The future of job interviews may very well include many more Skype interviews. If you’re a job seeker and haven’t had a Skype interview yet, chances are you’ll have one soon.
Here are a few important facts about and tips concerning this increasingly common form of interview:
Why Do Companies Conduct Skype Interviews?
One reason companies use Skype is because it saves time and money. Instead of having candidates come for in-person interviews, companies can put them through the wringer via computers, tablets, and smartphones.
Thanks to the platform’s video capabilities, a Skype interview is more personal than your average telephone interview. Skype also allows interviewers to see candidates’ body language, facial expressions, and other nonverbal cues.
One of my close connections, Angela Roberge, a recruiter and the owner of Accurate Staffing, says this about Skype interviews: “We are in the people business, and face-to-face interviews — including Skype — can help you assess the candidate on their ability to present themselves.”
The video component isn’t all good. Some recruiters may wrongly discriminate against candidates based on their appearance, age, race, etc. On the other hand, interviewers are naturally curious, and most simply want to see a person before inviting them for an in-person interview.
One nasty trick an interviewer played on one of my career center customers was turning his camera off while asking my customer to keep hers on. He could see her, but she couldn’t see him. I firmly believe my customer 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, the Skype interview may take the place of an in-person interview altogether — particularly if the Skype call precludes the need to fly a candidate out to headquarters.
Treat your Skype interview as you would an in-person interview. This includes conducting the rigorous research you would conduct before any interview. Make sure you’ve memorized your research, as you don’t want to be caught looking offscreen to your notes.
Make sure you’re prepared for the difficult questions. A basic telephone screen will most likely precede a Skype interview. During the Skype call, you’ll most likely be dealing with more challenging behavioral and situational questions. Your answers should be delivered as well as if this were an in-person interview.
The interviewer will also be gauging your physical reactions, such as facial expressions and body language. Will you squirm when answering a question about your weaknesses, or will you answer it with little emotion? Remember, the interviewer is watching you.
Logistics of a Skype Interview
Before a Skype interview, you must make sure your computer, camera, and surroundings are all set up for the best possible conversation. Poor lighting, sound, and other logistics could blow the interview.
- Be on time for the interview. Discuss with the interviewer who will be hitting the “call” button — them or you? Make sure you’re at your computer at the exact right time.
- Dress as if you were attending an in-person interview. Some say it’s okay to simply dress well from the waist up — but what if you have to stand up and get something during the discussion? The fact that you’re wearing pajama bottoms with your shirt and tie will not go over well.
- Make sure your internet connection is strong. I once Skyped with a client in Saint Lucia, and we had to reconnect a number of times. This could cause problems during an interview.
- Your computer’s camera needs to be at eye level. That is where you should look — not at the interviewer’s face.
- Your background should be clean. A blank or minimally decorated wall is good. Make sure there is no clutter, as this will say something about your personality. That said, your background shouldn’t be bland. A bookshelf could be a nice touch.
- Sound quality is important. If you’re in an open room, there may be a noticeable echo. 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. Your children playing in the next room can be heard, as can loud noises outside. Fire trucks and ambulances often drive by my house, so I warn people with whom I’m Skyping of this in advance.
- Lighting is perhaps the most overlooked aspect of a Skype interview. Have your laptop facing a window, rather than having the window behind it. A lamp placed below you will cause an eerie appearance, so avoid it.
For more information on Skype interview logistics, watch this video:
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.
A version of this article originally appeared on Things Career Related.
Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer who leads more than 15 job search workshops at an urban career center.