12 Steps to Doing a Successful Skype Interview

by: Joanne Meehl

An employer calls you after finding you on LinkedIn, and you have a good phone interview. Then he says, "I want you to talk to our VP. She uses Skype and will be available on Friday at 9am -- is that good for you?"

You reply "yes", the call ends, and you gulp: "I've never used Skype". Or you've never used it for an interview, a little different than the video chats with your friend in California.

Simply put, you cannot afford to "wing it" when it comes to this kind of interview. Treat it like an in-person interview because, well, it is just that. So learn how to do these right away so you're not surprised.

There are many web sites (like www.wikihow.com/Set-up-a-Skype-Account) that will coach you in how to set up an account with this video chat service, and they're worth checking out. You can connect with people over Skype in different ways, but the one we're focusing on here is the popular video chat method.

The employer might instead use Google Hangout or Apple's FaceTime (if you both have Macs or iPads/iPhones), which do the same thing and are also gaining in popularity for use in interviews. Follow the same steps with those.

Here are 12 tips for a successful interview via Skype:

  1. Do this now, not a few minutes before the interview: Go to Skype.com and register to be a user. Create a user ID -- like a tag -- that is appropriate for use in your job search, meaning nothing too cute or personal. Example: mine is joannemeehl. Get the other person's Skype ID, and give yours, well before the appointed time of your interview. This way, you can enter their ID into your Skype contact list and they can enter you in theirs. This makes connecting at the appointment time almost effortless. You don't want to be fumbling around with this at the last moment, which would cut into your interviewing time, and affect your credibility as well.

  2. Be sure your computer has a working, built-in camera; if it does not, you can buy separate cameras for this that will plug into the USB port of? your laptop. Don't go too cheap on this external camera or you'll be very blurry to the interviewer.

  3. By clicking on the other person's ID in your list, you'll initiate contact, or they will ring you, depending on what you've arranged. Be ready as soon as the camera light on your computer comes on, which is a second or two before you actually see the other person seeing you. I mention this because you don't want to be redoing your lipstick or picking your teeth just as your image first appears on their computer. And make sure your camera is 1-1/2 to 2?feet from your face; closer is way too close, and further away it's hard to see you. Be sure it's pointed at you and not your ceiling or your keyboard! Speaking of keyboards, keep your coffee or your water bottle far from it during the interview -- you don't want a spill during the meeting to interrupt it, damaging not only your computer but your confidence. Also be sure that no bright lights - like the sun! - are coming in over your shoulder or it will not only be very annoying to them, you'll come across as someone who doesn't know how to use today's technology. Also, you will be seen only in profile so they can't see your face: not good!

  4. Don't wear anything with narrow stripes close together, like a pinstriped suit jacket with high-contrast stripes -- this type of pattern has a shimmering effect to a camera lens and will be very distracting to the interviewer.

  5. Keep things behind you simple: don't have distracting items behind you, either on the wall or even on the floor -- they'll see them. So make sure that wild concert poster or your unmade/made bed are out of view.

  6. You may need to get up and get something off the printer, for example, during your interview, and the last thing you want seen is your pajama bottoms. So make sure your lower half is appropriately dressed as well.

  7. Practicing with your job search coach or even with a friend before The Big Interview will help you work out any bugs, and give you confidence.

  8. If while you're using Skype the screen freezes or breaks up but you can still hear the interviewer, keep going. Sometimes image issues happen, so be prepared, because it can be very distracting. If it gets so bad that sound is affected, the interviewer may ask you to restart the session, or you may have to tell them you're missing some of what they're saying, so can we restart, so as to get a better connection. Better that, than to be wondering what question they just asked you!

  9. Make sure your dog (or cat!) is in another part of the house - they may hear the interviewer and react with?"Stranger alert!" and start barking or meowing. Also, make sure your younger children are well-occupied somewhere else in your home, and that everyone understands this is YOUR private time.

  10. We call them laptops but do NOT keep your laptop ON your lap during a Skype interview. First, if you do that, the camera will be pointing up at your chin (or your nose.), not a good angle. Next, any body movement on your part will cause the laptop to move, which is annoying to the other party. So find a solid surface for it, at a height that allows you to look straight into your computer screen. All of this is even more true of tablets and smartphones: do not lay them down on your desk but put them on a level?up near your face.

  11. Have your resume handy but don't be reading it; tape it on the wall behind your computer so you can readily glance at it without repeatedly looking down at it on your desk, an annoyance that?will be very visible to your interviewer. They'll wonder if it's really your resume if?you don't even know what's there.

  12. Enjoy the time. Really! Skype video chat shows your open attitude, your smile, your energy far better than using the phone! And you see the interviewer. An interview is a two-way street, so make note of their attitude and openness to you.

Knowing the technology enables you to focus on doing a great interview. Treat the Skype interview just as you would an in-person, face-to-face interview - because today, that's what it is!


When you work with Joanne, you learn how to use today's tools in your job search, making you more competitive. Contact Joanne to learn more.


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