Nottingham Trent University

Skype Interviews

There’s no question about it: interviews on Skype can be, well, a bit awkward. Not only can you see yourself and the other person, but you have technological peculiarities to contend with. However, Skype is particularly popular with recruitment agencies and at some point in your job hunt, you just might have to contend with one. So here are our tips on how to handle that tricky Skype interview…

Preparing for a Skype Interview…

You should do the same level of preparation as you would for a face-to-face interview; that means researching the company, thinking about what you can bring to the company, how you might tackle certain questions and preparing a list of questions for you to ask them. Read our how to prepare for an interview and interview question articles for more pointers.

Don’t rock up to a Skype interview as a Skype virgin. If you’ve never used Skype, test it out with a friend first. That way you can get familiar with talking on it and learning how to adjust the volume. Make sure you’ve got a professional sounding Skype name, e.g. your real name like AlexKJames, not sweatysweatybaps88, and use a nice photo of yourself as your profile picture.

Test out your webcam and microphone. If your computer’s old and ‘a bit budget’, it might have a poor webcam and microphone (or it might not have them at all), but you can always buy a cheapish, good quality webcam for your computer or invest in a microphone. Otherwise, see if you can borrow a friend’s computer. 

Using Skype can be a bit disorientating, particularly as you can see your own face and, worst of all, watch your face as you talk (“Do I really look like that?”). So get used to seeing yourself on screen before the interview. Stage a practice interview with a friend, not only is this good interview practice, but you can also pick up on anything that might be slightly off-putting, like excessive use of your hands or looking like a complete robot on camera.

Setting the stage…

Before your interview, channel your ‘inner set designer’ and dress the stage for your interview. Set your computer up on a desk or table (far more professional than lolling about on your bed or sofa) and angle the camera so your head and shoulders are in full view. Make sure you’re a comfortable distance from the camera: you don’t want your face smushed up to the lens; equally though, you don’t want to be so far away that the recruiter can barely hear you.

Make sure you’re in well lit room so they can see your handsome visage. What you wear is also important: dress as you would for a formal interview. Clothes with distracting prints or bright stripes might come across badly on the screen. Take a look at our what to wear for an interview article for some tips.

Also do a quick background check (we mean literally): what will the recruiter be able to see behind you? The safest option is to position your computer so the background is a blank wall. If this isn’t possible make sure they aren’t looking out onto a messy room (with your dirty underwear scrunched up on the floor), a naked firemen calendar on your wall, or photos of you dressed up in a chicken suit.

Shut out any animals, children and housemates from your interview room; you don’t want the interview interrupted by Mr Miggles the cat walking over your keyboard or your housemate shouting: “Did you get any bog roll from Asda?”

Run some final technical checks, such as making sure your internet connection is strong and your computer is connected up to a power source. On Skype, check your microphone, web-settings or headphone settings – you could even do a trial run, calling one of your friends an hour or so before the interview, just to make sure.

No matter how much you prepare, you can never trust technology and the internet. Make sure you’ve got your interviewer’s telephone number and email address in case you lose connection or encounter a technical hitch during the Skype interview.

During the Skype Interview…

Treat it like a face-to-face interview; this means thinking carefully about your answers, paying some attention to your body language and interacting with the interviewer in a professional, yet relaxed manner. A good tip is to look at the camera and not at the screen. Although this might feel a tad weird, looking at the camera will better simulate eye-contact, whereas looking at the screen might seem like you’re looking away from the interviewer.

Pay attention to your interview body language, sit up straight, don’t flap those hands around too much and remember to smile. You might also want to have a look at our interview techniques for a few pointers. Try not to twiddle your hair or fidget nervously, the interviewer will pick up on it. However, sitting with your hands clamped to your side isn’t the way forward either. Gesticulate naturally: a bit of animation will help to remove the distancing barrier of the computer screen.

At the end of the Skype Interview…

When the interview is at an end, don’t forget to ask what the next stage will be and to send a thank you note. You could even send this through Skype as an IM.

Finally, it’s pretty obvious on Skype when you aren’t paying attention. You probably won’t get away with surreptitiously checking your Facebook or email whilst the recruiter rabbits on about their company, so don’t be tempted!