Landing Your Dream Job: Conquering the Skype Interview

Skype interviews are the shiny new thing in the hiring process. Instead of conducting a phone interview, an organization may opt to do a video conference call. The Skype interview gives them the chance to “see” you in person before the final round of interviews.

Personally, I spend very little time in front of a camera. I’m usually the person taking the pictures. To me, the idea of being in front of a camera is intimidating. I was so nervous for my first Skype interview, convinced that I wouldn’t translate well on camera. What I failed to realize is that there are plenty of advantages that the Skype interview has over the phone interview. And those advantages are not just for those conducting the interview. It gives you a chance to show of your personal style, your professional demeanor, and leverage nonverbal cues to help emphasis the point you are making.

This also means they will see your quirks: the way you tap your hand when your nervous, how often you brush your hair back because your last haircut wasn’t quite right, the nervous glances while you focus on your notes off camera, that sort of thing.

During my first round of Skype interviews, I had gotten a bad haircut just days before the interview. My bangs kept falling into my face, and every few minutes I would desperately try to push them back. Even though I was selected as a final candidate, the interviewer mentioned this quirk to one of my references (they were personal friends as well as colleagues). I about died when my reference mentioned the comment to me. Though I’m glad she did so I could find a solution before my in person interview.

I’ve learned a few things since that first interview that I’m going to pass along to you today. With a little bit of prep, you will conquer the Skype interview and move on to the final round of interviews.

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woman laptop notebook

Don’t Use Your Phone

Phone technology is amazing. With a click of a button, you can face time your best friend across the country and see everything that is going on in real-time. It gives a personal connection that a phone call simply cannot replicate.

Here’s the thing: your Skype interview isn’t with your best friend. You have a short window of time to convince the hiring committee that you should be selected as a final candidate. The last thing you want to do is distract them with connectivity problems, issues with the microphone, or other technical problems. My advice is to stay away from using a phone for your interview. I would recommend a tablet or, better yet, a laptop. For those of us using older phones (I still have an iPhone 5s – it may be old, but I love that I own it free and clear!), Facetime and Skype tend to lag even if you’re logged in to a strong internet connection.

There are some of you who are shaking your head thinking you wouldn’t be caught dead with such an old phone. Even if you have a perfect video call every time you use your brand new phone, there is still one major set back that comes with any phone that will affect your interview. Your screen is too small.

That’s not a big deal for the interview committee. After all, they only need to see one person: you. You’ll have your phone placed just like you would a selfie so you fill up the entire frame. The interview committee, however, may be trying to fit three or four people into the frame. The committee will also be at a conference table, which means the camera will need to be placed somewhere out of the way when not in use. Our camera sits on top of the TV and the interview committee sits a good ten feet away from the camera. On a phone, it is incredibly difficult to see our interview committee, making it difficult for the candidate to read our nonverbal cues and facial expressions. You’ll avoid this problem with a larger screen.



white dining table with black chairs in front of large painting

Consider How It Looks on Camera

The phone interview is convenient because it doesn’t matter what is physically around you. As long as the location is private and has a strong signal you can be anywhere and dressed in anything (or nothing, but I would not recommend doing phone interviews naked).

A video conference call, however, takes that luxury away. Dress as though you are meeting the interviewer in person – with a few exceptions. First off, remember the interviewer will only see the top half of you. What looks good for a headshot will look good for a video conference call. Wear lighter colors against a dark background and darker colors against a lighter background. Bright colors may pop, but take into account that their screen resolution might not be as good as your screen resolution.

Not only will the interviewer pay attention to what you are wearing, they will notice what is behind you. If you want to come across as a professional, make sure your location is professional. Avoid casual settings like bedrooms and the living room. A study is a perfect location, or the kitchen table if you can point the camera to a wall and not your sink full of dirty dishes. If you’re at work, find some place away from your building. The last thing you want is a coworker walking in on your interview! Since I work at a college campus, I had access to the library and booked a private conference room where I could close the door. See if your local library has private study rooms that you can book in advance. That will provide you with privacy you need to conquer your interview.

One final point – wear pants. Yes, I realize you should be sitting down the whole time. However, there’s always the smallest chance that something may cause you to stand up. The last thing you want to do is fail an interview for something so trivial as interviewing in your underwear. Say yes to pants.


woman typing on laptop

Test, Test, and Test

This bears repeating: do everything you can to avoid technical issues. Even if you are familiar with the program you are using, conduct a practice call in the room before your interview. For my first Skype interview, I set everything up forty-five minutes before my call. I moved my laptop around the entire conference room to see which background I liked best. I also moved lamps around to make sure the lighting was just right and tested the microphone several times.

Once that was settled, I had my husband call me on my account. I wanted to make sure the internet connection was strong and that he could hear me without any problems. I finished my preparations fifteen minutes before my call. This gave me ease of mind and the ability to focus the remainder of my time on the interview itself. Do yourself a favor and give yourself plenty of time before the interview to test every element of your Skype interview.



girl looking at samsung laptop

Make Eye Contact with the Camera

This is unique to video conference calls. On the phone, no one can read your body language so it’s not an issue. When you are on site, you can directly look at the person interviewing you. On camera, however, eye contact isn’t made when you look at the person on your screen. You need to look above them at your camera. It’s tempting to look at your screen because you feel as though you are looking at the person directly. I’ve seen several interviews where the candidate rarely makes eye contact because they spent the whole time looking at the image on their screen.

Practice making eye contact with the camera when someone is asking you a question. It is a very slight nonverbal cue, but one that can have a huge impact. It may feel unnatural to you. However, to the person on the other side of the screen, it will appear that you are making direct eye contact. Skype allows you to incorporate nonverbal cues into your first interview. Be sure to use it to your advantage! And don’t forget to incorporate all our other interview prep tips into your interview as well.

Which do you prefer: the phone interview or the Skype interview?

Getting ready for an upcoming Skype interview to land your dream job? Read this first! We have all the interview tips you need to conquer your Skype interview or other video conference interview. Take our career advice to help you with your job search.

Getting ready for an upcoming Skype interview to land your dream job? Read this first! We have all the interview tips you need to conquer your Skype interview or other video conference interview. Take our career advice to help you with your job search.
Getting ready for an upcoming Skype interview to land your dream job? Read this first! We have all the interview tips you need to conquer your Skype interview or other video conference interview. Take our career advice to help you with your job search.
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