Conducting a Successful Skype Interview

Preparing for a Skype interview?

Skype interviews can really be the best of both worlds — you still get face-to-face time with an employer while cutting travel out of the equation. And while mastering the interview is a common practice, etiquette surrounding a Skype interview is different from both in-person and phone interviews.

Our friends at Lee Hecht Harrison Knightsbridge have compiled a list of things for you to do and keep in mind.

13 Tips for Success

  • Prepare your surroundings. Pick a quiet place to interview without an elaborate backdrop so that you can be the focal point on the screen. Remove anything distracting behind you and keep it neutral. Check the lighting – is your face visible or in shadow? Avoid sitting with the window facing the screen – you will be “backlit” and in shadow to the interviewer.
  • Close other programs on your computer. Getting email notifications during your interview is distracting and unprofessional. Before your interview, make sure all other windows on your computer are closed (especially if they make noise).
  • Keep your profile professional. Unlike an in-person or phone interview, your first impression during a Skype interview doesn't actually involve you. The first thing your interviewer will see is your Skype username and picture, so double check that they are both interview appropriate (or create a professional Skype account — after all, they're free!).
  • Avoid a "Can you hear me now?" situation. Nothing is more frustrating than only catching every other word a person is saying, so be sure to tweak the Skype audio ahead of time to make sure you can both hear and be heard without difficulty.
  • Dress the part. When it comes to what you wear, treat your Skype interview like an in-person interview and dress professionally from head to toe (or at least from head to waist!). A professional dress code with video interviews is expected, not excused.
  • Look at the camera, not the screen. It is very tempting to watch yourself or your interviewer during a Skype session, but looking directly at the video camera is the only way to maintain direct eye contact with your interviewer. Try minimizing your view of self to the smallest size, and moving up to the top center of your screen under the camera lens. Then you can see how you are being viewed by the interviewer and adjust accordingly.
  • Practice makes perfect. Doing a run through interview with a friend beforehand is helpful because your first few Skype calls are likely to feel awkward, especially if you have to retrain yourself to watch the camera and not the screen. Play around with everything beforehand so that when it's interview time, you can shine without being distracted by the program.
  • Use notes. Don't be afraid to help yourself with post-it notes or a copy of your resume handy when you interview. A benefit of having a Skype interview is that you can have a cheat sheet in front of you so that you don't have to memorize everything you want to mention.
  • But don't rely too much on your notes. Just make sure your notes are easily scannable so that you use them as quick reminders, not a script. While having notes is certainly a plus, relying too heavily on them can cause awkward pauses during your interview. An interviewer won't be impressed if they only see the top of your head during the interview, so while having notes is good, be sure to use them sparingly.
  • Avoid interruptions. If you are interviewing in a house with multiple people or pets, be sure to let everyone in the house know ahead of time that you will be in an interview while securing any animals away from your interview space. Nothing is less professional than having to tell your potential employer to hang on while you shoo your dog away from the camera.
  • Watch your body language. Not all physical cues translate from in-person interviews to Skype interviews, which make the ones that do even more important. Be sure to have good posture and relax your shoulders to avoid stiffness.
  • Make sure the interviewer is engaged. Stop every once in a while and make sure your interviewer is engaged in what you are saying. Being aware of the interest level of your interviewer is crucial in a Skype interview since they may have interesting e-mails pop up that direct attention away from you.
  • Follow up! A thank-you letter is just as important after a Skype interview as it is in an in-person interview. Avoid following up on Skype, though, unless the interviewer requests it!