In this digital age, it's increasingly common for employers to want to interview prospective staff via Skype. This may worry some potential recruits, even those for whom face-to-face interviews hold few fears. Here are a few handy tips to help you storm your interview.
If you're asked to do a Skype interview and you don't have a Skype account, don't fall at the first hurdle and decline the interview. Download Skype and set up an account. If you don't have the internet at home, ask a friend or relative if you can use their home for the interview. If this isn't possible and you're forced to use a public space, acknowledge this fact with the prospective employer.
Research the employer and their business. Just because this is a Skype interview is no excuse for not preparing as thoroughly and as professionally as you would do for a traditional face-to-face interview.
3. Practice, Practice..... Practice
Practice beforehand. Even if you're a veteran vlogger, it's still worth running through your on-camera performance. Think about how you're sitting, whether you're looking at the camera, and about how confidently you speak. To try avoid excessive looking down (even if you're looking down at crib notes), slouching (unless there's a physical reason to do so) and either mumbling or gabbling. It may help if you ask someone else - a friend, partner or parent - to review your trial run. They may have helpful comments and suggestions you hadn't thought of or hadn't noticed. Finally, if the prospective employer offers a trial run at the Skype interview - and many do - don't dismiss the chance.
4. The Purpose
Understand the purpose behind the interview. For example, is it competency-based, strength-based or some combination of the two? Logging into the Skype interview is not the time to discover that you're about to face multiple choice questions; make sure you know in advance what you'll be asked to do.
5. Physical Background
Think about the physical background to your call. Almost inevitably you'll be speaking from home and while not everyone has a home office from which to conduct the call, do check what will be appearing behind you. It may help if you take a photograph of your intended backdrop. As far as possible, you want a blank wall, free of distractions. This may mean taking down posters or pictures, removing piles of laundry, closing the curtains, banishing the dog from the room and warning flatmates or family members that you need peace and quiet for an hour or two. If you have young children, ask someone else to watch them for the duration of the interview - and if you have a lock on the door, use it.
6. Personal Appearance
Take care with your personal appearance. It might not be a face-to-face interview but that's no excuse for not dressing the part. First impressions count just as much on screen as they do in the flesh. Make sure your hair is washed and styled tidily and that any make-up is well-applied and appropriate for the job (less is almost always more). Similarly, any jewellery should be discreet and not visually distracting. Cover any tattoos and, although they may not be visible, make sure your nails are clean, well-groomed and not painted in obtrusive colours or patterns. Clothing should be appropriate for the job and business environment in question. If in doubt, it is best to dress smartly rather than risk a negative impression by appearing in something too casual. Transparent tops, visible underwear, straining shirt buttons and underarm perspiration patches are not going to hit the spot. And, while your bottom-half may not be visible, it may be psychologically easier to perform well if you are dressed for the part from top to bottom. This may mean foregoing the shorts or pyjama trousers.
7. Skype Handle
Check your Skype handle. You may already have ensured that your email address sounds professional but if you haven't already done so, do the same for your Skype account. There can be few jobs for which "Party_Jack" or "Lauren_on_the_lash" gives the right impression. And, it's not Skype-specific, but remember that many employers routinely check your public social media accounts. Make sure your privacy settings are as tight as possible and try not to post anything (or allow anyone else to post anything tagging you) that you wouldn't be happy for a prospective or current employer to see.
Remember to smile and look at the camera during the interview. Smiling not only gives the impression of a warm, welcoming and positive person, its effects can be heard in your voice too. It may also help you relax. Looking at the camera for most of the interview will promote the impression that you are making good eye-contact with the interviewer. Conversely, trying to look at the person's image on your computer screen may make it seem that you are looking elsewhere.
Stay focused during the interview. It's easier to let your attention wander on a video call than it is in a face-to-face meeting. It may help to practise active listening, which means nodding and (occasionally) interjecting with filler words and phrases such as "yes" and "I see". Even if your hands are out of sight, don't be tempted to fiddle with things, doodle or tap the keyboard. Be particularly wary of doing anything that makes a noise that may be picked up by others on the call. Not only is it distracting, it might be seen as rude, unprofessional and a sign that you are not particularly interested in either the interviewer or the job.
10. Simple Bullet List
If you have notes, make sure you know them thoroughly. This doesn't mean being able to recite them verbatim but it does mean knowing where to find pertinent information quickly without resorting to shuffling papers and "umming" or "ahhing". A simple bullet list on a single sheet of paper is usually an adequate prompt and much easier to refer to than anything lengthier or more convoluted.