Skype Interview Tips: How to Prepare for a Skype Interview

During the hectic phase of job hunting, it can be difficult to juggle all interview appointments. More and more employers are utilizing a multi-stage selection process, where the candidates may have to travel to interviews several times. In other cases, a pre-selection is performed using an assessment center before the actual interviews take place. From the perspective of companies, this is understandable. After all, they want to find and secure the best workers for themselves. But this can be difficult for applicants, especially when the potential employers are located in different cities or even abroad.

For this reason, many employers now offer the option of a Skype interview for the first round of the process. Both sides benefit from the time and cost savings. However, this type of interview also comes with its own dangers – from technical issues through to unprofessional presentation. This is particularly the case as candidates may have only previously used Skype for relaxed personal conversations. Nonetheless, by considering a few things beforehand and preparing effectively, a Skype interview can be just as promising as a conventional interview.

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Skype Job Interview Tips

When it comes to Skype interviews, there are two main sources of mistakes. The first relates to the technical requirements. Nothing is more disruptive than often having to wait and repeat questions due to an unstable internet connection or poor audio quality. This not only breaks the flow of conversation, it also makes it harder to focus on the content.

The second danger concerns the general setting. In the familiar surroundings of your own home, it can be all too easy to present yourself in a less favorable light than you would usually in an interview. This can include an unsuitable background as well as the choice of clothing and seating position.

To help you avoid these beginner’s mistakes, we have put together a number of Skype interview tips that you can use to prepare effectively.

Note

Skype is by far the most well-known program for video chats and conferences. However, criticism is often expressed with regard to data security. Especially when discussing confidential topics and agreements, there are alternatives to Skype that offer better data encryption. If you prefer one of these programs, you should notify your interview partner in good time by presenting your reasons and asking if the alternative is acceptable.

Tip 1: Account

During a Skype interview, an interviewer will already judge your personality based on your account name. For this reason, you should never use a private Skype account with a nickname from your childhood or a personal snapshot as your profile picture. This gives the impression that you aren’t taking the interview seriously and can’t present yourself professionally.

Instead, it’s a good idea to create a second account with your full name and a neutral application photo, which you use exclusively for professional contacts. This also has the advantage that you won’t receive any messages or calls from friends during the interview.

Tip 2: Test Skype Features

A few hours – or ideally a few days – before an important Skype interview, you should test all the features and make sure you have the current version installed. There is hardly anything more frustrating than having to install big updates when starting the program shortly before an interview.

If everything works as it should on your computer, you could Skype with a friend and check that the image and audio quality are also good for your conversation partner.

Tip 3: Internet Connection

It’s essential that you choose somewhere with a stable internet connection. Tell your family or roommates about the interview and ask them not to download or stream anything during this time.

Tip 4: Close Other Programs

During your Skype interview, all other programs should be closed that could otherwise distract you or make the connection slower. It’s important that you direct your undivided attention to your conversation partner. It also appears highly unprofessional when email notification sounds and messenger services can be heard in the background during an interview, or if your eyes dart around the screen to read the message previews.

Tip 5: Headset

A headset significantly improves audio quality. Sitting around a meter away from the screen provides a good camera angle, for instance. At this distance, however, many microphones built into laptops already struggle to deliver good quality. A headset not only allows you to ensure that your interview partner hears you clearly, but also that no one else can listen into the conversation.

Tip 6: Choice of Place

For your Skype interview, choose a quiet place where there are no loud background noises or disruptions caused by people moving in the picture. Try to use a camera angle in which the background is as neutral as possible. Whether consciously or subconsciously, your interlocutor will associate all the objects on screen with you, even if the visible doll collection belongs to your sister or the soccer scarf is your roommate’s.

Also take some time to check the lighting. The light source should not be located behind you. This will have a glaring effect and make your facial features difficult to see. Strong lighting from the side should likewise be avoided, as this can cause excessive shadows on your face. A soft, warm light at an angle from the front is best.

Tip 7: Clothing

Match your appearance to the job you’re applying for. If that’s a management position at a bank, formal business attire is undoubtedly appropriate – even if it seems strange to wear these clothes in shared accommodation, for example. For jobs in a creative or social field, the appropriate clothing may be more informal – but they should still convey a serious and professional impression. In a nutshell, dress in the same manner as you would if the interview were being held at the company’s premises rather than via Skype.

Tip 8: Content Preparation

You should prepare as thoroughly for a Skype interview as you would for a normal interview. The process is identical. Inform yourself about the company as well as your interviewer and prepare for questions you’re likely to be asked to check your soft skills, such as communication, commitment and organization abilities.

Go over the job description again in detail as well as the requirements profile. This way, you’ll be able to emphasize the skills – in this case, your hard skills – during the interview and present yourself as the ideal candidate for the position.

Tip 9: Documents and Notes

With a Skype interview, you have the big advantage that you can have notes and prompts at hand without your interview partner seeing them. Write down short key words that are important to you and any questions you wish to ask your future employer.

You can also print out your resume or CV and place it in front of you, in case the interviewer has questions about certain positions you’ve held previously.

Tip 10: Eye Contact

Eye contact is one of the most important aspects in personal interviews, and Skype is no exception here. Always keep in mind that you should look directly into the camera (and not at the screen!) when you want to look at the interviewer. However, just like with meetings in person, long and uninterrupted periods of eye contact could be perceived as uncomfortable staring. At the same time, if you appear to be focused on something else, you may appear disinterested.

It’s best to test eye contact in a Skype conversation with a friend. They will be able to give you honest feedback about whether you convey interest and engagement in the conversation.

Tip 11: Body Language and Posture

Choose seating in which you can sit upright and your upper body, arms, and hands are visible. This enables you to use your body language to emphasize important points, and the interviewer will get a better impression of your personality.

You should definitely avoid sitting on a comfortable sofa or on your favorite bean bag. A cozy atmosphere can quickly result in leaning back relaxed. This will undoubtedly send the wrong message in an interview and give a disinterested or arrogant impression.

Tip 12: Professionalism

Always maintain a professional and polite distance – without being too aloof – in all phases of a Skype interview. Politely greet your interview partner, ask interested questions, and thank them for their time and the interview at the end.

You should absolutely avoid any inappropriate gestures. A prime example of this would be to wave at the camera when greeting or saying goodbye. This could happen out of awkwardness, since you’re unable to shake the interviewer’s hand as normal. A slight nod of the head and a friendly smile are better.

However, if you do find yourself making one of these gestures, it can have an amiable and disarming effect if you briefly address it and apologize for the unfamiliar situation.

Summary: How to Do a Skype Interview

Here’s an overview of all the tips above. The table can easily be used as a checklist before your next Skype interview.

Do Don’t
Use your full name and a neutral photo for your Skype account Use your private Skype account
Test the audio and image quality (use a headset and external camera, if necessary) Forget to stop any programs that use lots of data and any downloads in the background
Avoid possible distractions with messenger services, emails, roommates or background noises Lounge on a comfortable sofa or armchair in front of the computer
Choose a place with a neutral background and good lighting Fail to treat the Skype interview seriously due to the relaxed atmosphere
Select clothing that would also be appropriate for an interview at the company’s premises Wear casual clothing for the interview
Prepare just as thoroughly as for any other interview Only look at yourself on the screen
Place notes and prompts in front of you Use inappropriate, overly familiar gestures and communication
Look directly into the camera regularly during the interview  
Respectfully greet the interviewer and say goodbye in an appropriate manner  
Practice professional Skype interviews with friends and ask for honest feedback  

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