One of my favorite aspects of technology has to do with connection. With one click of the VIDEO CALL button, I can be connected, face-to-face, with friends and family all over the country using Skype. Skype technology has made maintaining relationships cross-country easier and more budget-friendly, and potential employers have picked up on the trend. After viewing resumes, many employers are using Skype interviews as a second-phase weeding out process that expands their reach cross-country. Here are a few tips that can help you ace the Skype interview and get you to the next phase.
Check the connection: Interviews are nerve-wracking enough without having to worry that the connection on your computer will fail you. Check the connection ahead of time, making sure that the signal in your home is strong enough to maintain a consistent presence. If the signal isn’t strong enough, consider renting out a quiet room in a public library that has strong Wi-Fi. IPhone users might also consider the Personal Hotspot capability on their mobile devices.
Make sure you know your login and password: I learned this one the hard way! I had a big meeting via Skype and my computer had recently undergone some maintenance, causing the preset passwords to reset themselves. As the meeting started, I suddenly couldn’t remember the password and had to be emailed the reset code, which took precious time and resulted in an unprofessional showing. Make sure you know your passwords, and if at all possible, sign on and remain “hidden” until the time of your meeting.
Create a professional handle (Skype username): Create a Skype username solely for professional use. A good rule of thumb is to create a Skype name that has some variety of the name you want to go by in the professional world. Common varieties include first name and last name, separated by a period (e.g., Elizabeth.Minei). If you have a common first and last name, consider adding a number to the username (e.g., Elizabeth.Minei21).
Make sure the background is neutral and non-offensive: Establish a location that is neutral, professional, and away from heavy traffic. Computer setups are commonly in heavily trafficked areas in the house (especially family computers) where there is liable to be pets, roommates, or relatives walking around. If your computer is portable, try to find a location away from common household noise and traffic. Also, consider what the background will look like to the interviewers. I typically try to find the most boring wall in my apartment (i.e., beige) and set up against this wall. You want the focus to be on you, rather than the pictures, décor, or pets that make up your surroundings.
Do a dry run to check all lighting/camera/appearance settings before the interview: Once you have established the background for the interview ahead of time, have a friend Skype you a day or two before the interview, but around the same time that your interview will be taking place. Doing so will allow your friend to give you feedback on the natural lighting and camera settings. Arrange the lighting and the camera at angles and settings that make you feel comfortable and natural (this may require artful lamp arrangement). Also recommended during this dry run is to practice the clothes, makeup, and hair you plan to wear during the interview. You want to look your best, and while your new lip color or hair style may look great in person; they may not translate as well via Skype.
Tape questions or key points to the edge of the computer screen: Lastly, you have a great opportunity to post reminders or key points in an easily accessible place—the computer screen! The interviewer can only see you, not your screen. I recommend writing short, key-word speaking points, or reminders on index cards as a reference. I even on occasion include questions to ask the interviewer about the position, information about the organization, and the names of the people that will be doing the interview. It’s handy and they will never know your secret.
These specific tips are meant to help you ace the Skype interviews. As always, smile, be yourself, and have confidence! You'll be great!