How to ace a job interview over Skype


If you will be interviewed for a job via Skype and a webcam, review my March 19 column as well as these tips:

Prepare. Review the description of your target job, practice answering likely questions, research your target organization, and craft questions to ask your interviewers, just as you should before in-person interviews.

Rehearse. Role-play for interviews with a trusted adviser via Skype and your webcam in the same location and with the same lighting that you will use for your real interview, and while wearing your interview outfit.

Center your body in the camera view, stay an appropriate distance from the camera, and maintain good but natural posture. No slouching! Record your practice session, and review the resulting video.

Also, ask your adviser to review the video and give you honest feedback.

Use top technology. Buy or borrow a high-quality webcam for the interview, if you don’t have one. You don’t want to be rejected just because you looked and sounded to your interviewers like you’re speaking from the bottom of the ocean. Stay calm while you troubleshoot any technical glitches that may develop.

Ready your résumé. Well before your interview, provide your interviewer with a well-formatted version of your résumé — not an unformatted online version. Also provide your success portfolio, which should include relevant work products, annual reviews or other evidence of your skills and top reputation. Also, consider providing a recent dignified photograph of yourself.

Before your interview, confirm that your interviewer has received your materials. Be prepared to email a PDF version of your résumé to your interviewer, and to concisely summarize its contents during your interview in case your interviewer hasn’t reviewed your résumé or kept it handy, as is often the case.

Ready your workspace. If possible, conduct your interview from home rather than work, where you may be interrupted. Control your image by selecting an interview area that is comfortable, attractive, neat and organized, not dominated by piles of papers or junk. No one wants to hire a hoarder.

Seal your interview area off from other people, pets and distractions. During your interview, ignore your email. And if your doorbell rings, don’t answer it; this is no time to argue with the repo man!

Tape interviews. The resulting video may help you gather grist for your post-interview thank-you letter and help you prepare for follow-up interviews.

Be friendly. When you initially “meet” your interviewer over Skype, convey enthusiasm and smile, even if it feels silly smiling into a computer. If you’re interviewed by multiple interviewers, keep track of who is who throughout the interview and occasionally address them by name, as do guests on TV talk interviews. For example, “Well, Mr. Smith, I think that …”

Engage interviewers. Don’t fixate on your own screen image. Instead, focus on your interviewers when they speak and look into your webcam when you speak to give your interviewers eye contact.

Speak slowly. Accommodate potential time delays by making sure that your interviewer has finished speaking before you begin responding to each question.

Have job, will travel. If you would have to relocate to take your target job, explain why you would be willing and eager to do so, even if your interviewer does not ask you about this. Your explanation should emphasize the appeal of your target job, but may also include a personal reason why you would thrive in the new location.

It ain’t over until it’s over. When your interview ends, immediately kill your Skype connection; don’t speak to anyone else until you are sure that your connection is dead.

Request travel reimbursement. If your Skype interview triggers an invitation for an in-person interview requiring long-distance travel, diplomatically ask your interviewer if the hiring agency would cover your travel expenses. Federal agencies have discretion to do so.


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1 Comment

  1. Great article – what I might want to add is to use a headset. I will reduce the background noise tremendously. This might be important if your interview needs to be performed in a noisy environment due to time differences.

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