Skype is no longer just for connecting with friends or relatives around the world. Today, more and more hiring managers and companies are using the telecommunications app for job interviews. Particularly for telecommuting positions, Skype makes it easy to interview job candidates from around the country.
Despite Skype’s prevalence, there’s a good chance you’ve yet to experience a Skype job interview. Interviewing through a computer screen is very different from interviewing in person or chatting with a friend, and it should be treated as such. And because 33% of hiring managers say they know if they’ll hire someone within 90 seconds, a great first impression is a must—even over Skype.
Make sure you’re prepared for a successful Skype interview by following these 9 tips.
1) Consider Your Backdrop
Unlike a traditional interview at the office, a Skype interview can be done just about anywhere. Make sure that what’s behind you looks just as professional as a conference room.
Avoid sitting in bed or in a messy room where the interviewer may be distracted by the background. You’ll also want to skip interviewing in a public location, like a coffee house, where it may be loud with people walking in and out of your camera’s view. Ideally, find a space with a simple background, like a wall. Make sure there’s enough lighting so the interviewer can see you clearly.
2) Check Your Internet Connection
Using Skype—or any application that requires video and sound—requires a strong internet connection. Without one, you risk glitching, delays, and even application crashes. Not only does this take away from the interview experience, it can also make you look unprofessional or unprepared.
At least a few days before your interview, run an internet speed test. This quick test will evaluate your download speeds and give you an idea of what your current internet speed can handle. For Skype, you’ll want a minimum speed of 10 Mbps, but closer to 20 Mbps is ideal. As internet speeds can fluctuate, run the test several times for an accurate average. Shutting down other programs and applications can also help Skype run faster and more smoothly.
3) Practice Answering Questions
You won’t know exactly what the interviewer will ask you, but there are a few common interview questions you can prepare for ahead of time to help calm your nerves. Prepare for the interview by reading these over and crafting your answers.
Many interviews start with the predictable “tell me about yourself” pitch, so consider how you might answer this. Avoid a canned response and instead reveal interesting and personal information about yourself that shows the best parts of your personality and work ethic. Review the job posting and company website a few times, too, so you can be as specific as possible when answering why you’d best fit the position and what skills you bring to the table.
4) Dress the Part
We’ve all heard the horror stories about interviewees secretly dressing in sweatpants only to stand up and reveal their sloppy apparel. Just because you’re interviewing from the comforts of your home doesn’t mean you should settle into casual wear. Dress in interview-appropriate wear as if you were going into the office for an in-person meeting.
Choose business-level attire, such as slacks with a shirt and tie, a pantsuit, or a dress. Hair should be groomed and makeup should be conservative. Make sure everything is tucked in nicely and wrinkle-free, and wear few accessories to avoid distractions. Stick to neutral tones and avoid anything too bright as you don’t know how colors will appear through the interviewer’s camera.
5) Have a Cheat Sheet
One pro of a Skype interview is that you can have notes on hand that you may not normally have during an in-person interview. While you don’t want to read from a sheet for your whole interview, you can have a few bullet points at the ready to reference.
On your cheat sheet, include topics to ask the hiring manager about, such as company culture, benefits, and job specifics. You might also want to jot down a few key points about the position, as well as your top strengths and skills. Remember, if you use a cheat sheet, maintain as much eye contact as possible with the interviewer. Glance at your notes only when needed.
6) Double-Check the Time
Particularly if you’re scheduling multiple interviews with different hiring managers, double-check that you have the right time and date for the interview. Add a reminder to your digital calendar with alarms so you aren’t late. Avoid scheduling interviews back to back, as you won’t know how long each will take.
If you’re applying for a remote position or a job in another state, there’s a chance your hiring manager may be in a different time zone. Check with the interviewer to make sure you have the correct time. You may also want to send the hiring manager an email the day of or the day before, confirming again the correct time and date with the time zone listed.
7) Be Ready Early
Arriving early for an interview is standard practice. Do the same for a digital interview. Start setting up for your interview at least 15 minutes early. Double-check that your internet connection is strong and Skype is working, and close any other running applications.
You can also use this time to test your sound and video before the interview starts. Check that the camera faces you directly, and make sure the microphone and sound is turned up so your interviewer can hear you and you can hear them. Don’t forget to check the employer’s Skype username so you can connect before the interview starts. Have their email or phone number on hand in case any issues pop up or you’re unable to find their username.
8) Show You’re Engaged
In an in-person interview, it’s much easier to show your enthusiasm and engagement with your body language. With a video, you’re a little more confined. Don’t be afraid to show your personality by smiling and using some hand gestures. Just avoid too big of movements as you’re limited to the space the camera can capture.
Additionally, lean forward to show your interest in what the interviewer is saying. Give periodic clues that you’re listening and engaged, such as interjections like “yes,” “hm,” or “okay.” Avoid typing on the computer screen, fidgeting, tapping your foot, or multi-tasking. Even if the interviewer can’t see what you’re doing, they may hear or sense that you’re distracted.
9) Follow Up after the Interview
Whether it’s a phone, Skype, or in-person interview that lasts 10 minutes or one hour, always follow up with the hiring manager within 24 hours of the interview. Keep the note brief. Don’t recap the entire interview, but touch on the most important details, such as your major takeaways about the company and job and one or two reasons why you’re an ideal fit for the position. You can also add any information you forgot to share in the interview.
Keep your language professional yet conversational and friendly, and thank the interviewer for their time. Depending on the job specifics, you may ask about interview next steps or ask for a timeline on when you can expect to hear a response.
While a Skype interview may seem less formal than one in person, take it just as seriously as you would any other interview.
For any position, you can expect the hiring manager to be interviewing several other candidates. Make sure you shine and stand out from the crowd by presenting yourself as a professional who is qualified for and interested in the position. By following these 9 tips, you can feel prepared and ready to nail your next Skype interview.