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21 Tips on How to Prep for a Skype Interview

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How-to-Prep-for-Skype-Interview-Textbookscom-BLOG-T2All job interviews require preparation. Whether it’s tailoring your resume, researching the company, brushing up on industry news, or practicing your responses, you will (or should!) have to prep for phone screeners and in-person interviews in myriad ways. But the Skype interview brings a whole new set of considerations.

Consideration #1: Do not treat this as “just a phoner.” Vicki Salemi, a career expert with Monster.com, says one of the biggest mistakes you can make in a webcam interview is to treat it like you’re Facetiming with friends. “The reality is it’s much different. It’s important to be on your best behavior and look the part."

And "additional environmental prep is key,” she says. Normally, you get your suit from the dry cleaners, you might get a hair cut, and pick out your best shoes. With a Skype interview, you need to consider all that and more – like testing your equipment, cleaning your room, and practicing with the webcam.

Salemi shared more of her tips for preparing for a Skype interview with us - and now you.

Career Expert Vicki Salemi of Monster.com / Tips on How to Prep for a Skype Interview

Vicki Salemi of Monster.com


PREPARING YOUR SPACE

  1. Location, location, location Choose your location wisely, says Salemi. The room you are in – and what it says to others about you as a professional – is one of the most important things to look at. “Pick a space that has a nice background to it, like a bookshelf or blank wall or artwork. You don’t necessarily need to sit during the interview, but if you stand, just be sure the computer is positioned in such a way that you can still be seen.”
  2. Declutter your backdrop This is “a must,” says Salemi. In addition, make sure surrounding areas are decluttered, too, in case you move off camera. Take a screenshot of yourself from the webcam view and look closely at what is in the background around you. Put away your laundry (and that Grateful Dead tapestry), make your bed, and remember – less is more.
  3. Lights, camera, action “Good lighting is key!” says Salemi. And test camera angles during your practice run. “[Your camera] should be at eye level so it’s not looking up into your nostrils and not necessarily looking down from up above. Practicing with a friend will help and they can take screen shots with various angles to show you what it looks like on their end. Once you determine the right angle, figure out a way to replicate it on the interview day – e.g., taking a picture on your phone of the screen angle from your laptop.”
  4. Adjust your thermostat Whether it’s the height of a summer heat wave or the low freezing point of winter, make sure your room’s temperature is comfortable. There are few things worse than beads of sweat on your brow during a job interview – and Salemi can relate. “You may think it’s not that warm in the room you’re Skyping from, but you should go there at least 30 minutes prior to the official start time to check it out. Once I did a Huffington Post Live session from my home office, not thinking it was too warm in the middle of the day. Boy, was I wrong! Once it started, I couldn’t quickly move to turn on the A/C, meanwhile I started sweating during the interview. Not a good look!”

PREPARING YOURSELF
  1. Do a trial run Test your equipment and do a quick Skype chat with a friend to rehearse. “You should always do a trial run to trouble-shoot a potential connection issues, test the sound, image, and lighting.”
  2. Practice makes perfect Ask a friend to run through a few interview questions with you over Skype so you can get a sense of in-person vs. webcam interview differences.
  3. The eyes have it “Practice staring at the little camera on your computer since that’s your mode of eye contact.” You’ll likely be drawn to looking at the screen – but your computer’s camera is where you should focus.
  4. Take it seriously “Instead of thinking of it as ‘just a screener,’ look at it as a real interview,” says Salemi. Prepare just as you would for a proper interview – because it is a proper interview. Thoroughly research the company, hone your elevator pitch, and practice your best answers to tough interview questions.
  5. Brush your teeth “This may sound silly, but often interviewees will skip over the easiest of essentials when shielded by the camera. Instead, you should be just as prepared and well-groomed as you would be if the interview was in person.”
  6. Dress professionally “Approach this the same way you’d prepare for an office interview – wear a suit, dress professional. Refrain from wearing anything too distracting; solid colors work best. Don’t just wear an interview jacket and blouse on the top and shorts on the bottom – get dressed from head to toe. You never know if you have to move off camera for whatever reason. Plus you’ll just feel more polished.”

THE DAY OF
  1. Secure childcare and doggy day care Have kids or pets that will be home with you that day? Make plans with a sitter, family member, or friend to entertain them outside the house. If that’s not possible, at a minimum, Salemi says to lock your door and place a Do Not Disturb on the knob.
  2. Tell your partner or roommates, then lock the door Learn from Robert Kelly’s mistakes. That’s the guy whose BBC interview went viral when his children interrupted a live broadcast. Oops. Hilarious in hindsight, but you may lose the job instead of becoming an overnight YouTube sensation. “Give ample notice to your spouse or roommates a few days ahead of time and again on the day of,” says Salemi. “Be prepared for worst-case scenarios. As Murphy’s Law will have it, the one time UPS actually rings your doorbell with a delivery will probably occur during your Skype interview. So, be prepared to acknowledge it during the interview like, ‘Wouldn’t you know it? Please excuse my doorbell.’ And then continue on with the interview.”
  3. Turn your monitor into a cheat sheet “That’s the cool thing about Skype – you can make a cheat sheet/visual cues to help remind you of top skills you want to highlight and refer to by putting a post-it on your computer.”
  4. Turn off your phone Do we even have to mention this? And she means off off. No vibrate mode.

READY, SET, INTERVIEW!
  1. Big changes in small talk “There’s less room for small talk during a Skype interview,” says Salemi. “It’s not like the interviewer will ask if you got there OK and found the office easily with directions. Be prepared to talk about the weather where they are or engage in other light conversations.”
  2. Make eye contact and stay engaged Talking to your interviewer by focusing on the camera vs staring at your screen. It’s important to build a rapport with your interviewer, so be sure to look at the camera versus staring at your screen. Practice by Skyping with a friend.
  3. Give a heads up on heads down Do you take notes when you’re interviewing? Like to have a list of prompts and questions to ask your interviewer? Salemi suggests you mention that you have some notes in front of you so they don’t misinterpret it. Say something like, “‘I have a notebook next to me so I may be jotting down things as you speak.’ This way you won’t look disengaged or distracted on-camera if you take notes.”
  4. Keep calm and carry on Door bell rings? AC kicks in? Neighbor’s dog starts barking? Roll with it. Coincidentally, small things like this can show an employer how you respond to stress and change. Salemi suggests saying something like, “‘Apologies for background noise, courtesy of my air conditioner.’ Again, err on the side of explaining things a bit more than you would need to if you two were in the same environment for the interview.”
  5. Keep your hands to yourself Salemi reminds us that “if you talk a lot with your hands, make a conscious effort to limit the motions. Body language and gestures can often come off differently on camera than in person. You don’t want to appear rigid or unfocused.”
  6. Limit interruptions It can be difficult, especially if your internet connection causes a bit of delay, but try not to interrupt the person interviewing you. “It may seem hard finding a rhythm at first and you may be nervous or excited, but wait for them to finish talking before you start speaking.”
  7. Say cheese “Lastly, remember to smile!” effuses Salemi. “It’s important to smile the same way you would on an in office job interview. Appear pleasant and approachable to make a lasting impression.”

Want more job search advice? Visit vickisalemi.com or connect with her on Twitter @VickiSalemi.

SHELF HELP
Check out Salemi's books for tips on preparing for college and post-grad life.

Vicki Salemi ABCs of College Life Vicki Salemi Big Career in the Big City
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