If you say the words ‘video interview’ to many job seekers, it will send a shiver down their spine. Visions of fuzzy images on screen, stilted conversation and WiFi dropping out halfway through is enough to scare anyone off. But it needn’t be that way, the quality of Skype and other video conference tools means it’s as close to being in the same room as you can be. It is a useful recruitment tool, whether as an additional stage or in-place of a first-round face-to-face interview it enables both interviewer and interviewee to gain a deeper understanding of each other than is possible in a simple phone call.
If you have been called to an interview via video conference then don’t panic, below are a few tips and pointers to help you take it in your stride.
- Be prepared – treat it as if you would any other interview. Do all the usual preparation, research the company, know who you are talking to, their name, job title, make a note of any questions you want to ask etc. Have everything you might need during the interview to hand, a pen and paper, a copy of the job description/advert, your CV. It’s also a good idea to have a glass of water ready, as lots of talking, especially while nervous can dry your mouth out. If you don’t want to replicate the BBC correspondent whose children walked in while he was live on air, then make sure you warn anyone else in the house that you’re taking a call.
- Location – think about where you’re going to sit, ideally to minimise background noise and disruptions you should be in a private location, rather than a public place. So you’re able to talk freely try and set up your computer or laptop on a table so you’re not juggling it on your lap. Remember to check what can be seen behind you and remove anything unsuitable (underwear drying on a clothes horse for example!).
- Lights, camera, action – the point of a Skype call is that you can see each other, so don’t neglect lighting, it plays a big part in making you appear clearly on screen. A bright light behind you such as a window will make it almost impossible for you to be seen clearly, you’ll appear as a shadow. On the inverse, sat facing a window runs the risk of being blinded by the sun and spending half the call squinting (not a good look). Test out a few different locations and see which gives the best picture.
- Dress accordingly – unlike a telephone interview you can be seen via a video conference, so make sure you dress appropriately and treat it as if it were a face-to-face interview. This will not only make the right impression but also get you in the right, professional frame of mind. While it might be tempting to be more casual from the waist down, you never know what might happen so it’s best to plan for all eventualities and be smart from head to toe.
- Do a test run – if you’re not a regular Skype user then do a couple of test calls to friends and family. This will help you get your camera and microphone set up correctly and make you more familiar and comfortable with the system and how it works.
- Don’t panic – technology has a habit of going wrong at the crucial moment. While doing a test run can reduce the chances of this happening, if the worst does happen, don’t panic. If you get cut off mid-call, take a moment to compose yourself before calling back. If you lose sound or visuals then don’t just sit there, let the person at the other end know and quickly try to rectify the situation.
If you treat it like any other interview, do your preparation, speak clearly, maintain eye contact and answer the questions to the best of your ability then it will give you the best chance of success. On a final note, don’t forget about your user name, while PartyChick21 might have been fun while at University it won’t give the best first impression. Just like your email address, keep it simple, professional and boring, use your name.
‘How to survive a Skype interview’ was written by Lesley Colella Career Concierge, Chiumento Ltd. If you like what you’ve read why not follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter and read all our future careers advice and musings on the world of work.