How NOT to Bomb a Skype Interview

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How do you know if your next interview will be over Skype?

Well, in reality – you don’t. In the US, more than 6 out of 10 HR managers now use video to interview job candidates. For students and graduates, this means an entirely new style of conversation to master.

I wish I could say I had Skype interviews figured out. But by the second minute of my very first one, all I remember wanting to do was to slam my computer shut and throw it across the room.

Although words were definitely coming out of my mouth, they strung together in an incoherent ramble. To make matters worse, my wifi was glitching! My palms were sweaty, my mouth was dry and I had completely lost direction of my responses, and – ultimately – whatever point I was trying to make.

So, what happened?

And more importantly, how do we avoid it? To many of you, this may sound like the expected string of physical reactions while in the midst of an interview – and that’s completely normal. Interviewing is hard and takes practice to fully get the hang of. The problem here was, I was already great at interviewing and the whole practice of talking in general. Barely had I ever prepared for an interview beyond researching the role and the company, just because I genuinely found I performed better when treating them like an everyday conversation. Attributing Skype interviews to the same category as daily communication is really the biggest mistake you can make. Because in reality, video interviews could not be more different.

To make sure your next Skype interview goes as smoothly as possible, here are a few things you definitely want to consider doing.

1. Test Call

Ask a friend or family member to help you conduct a practice interview – you’ll quickly realize the interaction is more awkward than you expected. Video calls lack non-verbal communication that serve as common social cues and gestures. Not being able to pick up on a hiring manager’s immediate body language gives you a serious disadvantage. Calls are also prone to a bit of a lag, making it is easy to accidentally talk over or cut off the hiring manager – something you would never do in person. Take your time with responses in order to establish a good flow and after a test call or two, you should easily find a pace that works for you.

2. Follow This Checklist

Do NOT start your interview without:

  • Flawless internet connection: Your neighbors wifi might work perfectly when it comes to refreshing your Twitter, but Skype takes up quite a bit of bandwidth and will lag from time to time (even on the best network). Make sure you are nestled up as close to the router as you can get and ensure you’ve thoroughly tested your connection or you risk wasting the hiring manager’s time. When they’ve scheduled your interview to a time slot, delaying it by 15 minutes while you rush to the nearest Starbucks won’t be a request they’re happy to grant.
  • Hair elastic: Ladies (and some gentlemen) – I found having one very useful. Your tiny video icon in the bottom corner is more distracting than you think, which will become apparent when you catch yourself adjusting your hair mid-interview for the tenth time. Having an elastic to tie your hair back is a great way to remove this problem.
  • Water: If you don’t know what “dry mouth” is, a job interview is not a good place to experience it for the first time. Nervousness and stress can cause it to happen when you least expect it to and it can be incredibly debilitating – in some cases even causing you to lose the ability to speak. Keep a water bottle handy in case you run into this problem. Additionally, reaching for a sip of water is a great way to buy you an extra five seconds to think the answer for an especially difficult interview question.
  • A fully charged computer: Don’t let your computer die mid-interview. It’s embarrassing.

3. Write Everything Down

It is infinitely harder to lose your train of thought in the midst of a video call than it is in person. I don’t know why, but it may have something to do with the fact that you are sitting in your living room trying to convince someone you’ve never met before to give you your dream job through a computer screen. To combat this, write out all the information you want to emphasize on your passions, job experiences and positive interactions with the employer and have it positioned in clear sight. In a way, this is the biggest advantage to having a Skype interview – see it as an opportunity to have a personal teleprompter during your interview.

4. Dress The Part

Dress just as you would if you were going into you interviewer’s office (check out some useful tips here). Also remember you are being judged on your surroundings just as much – if not more – than your physical appearance. Having a setup that screams “competent future employee” is relatively simple. If possible, station yourself at a desk or a workplace station, make sure the lighting is great and that you’ve cleared the background of any empty alcohol containers or One Direction posters you may have.

Following all these points will ensure you’ll be prepared to take on your very first Skype interview. While nobody expects you to be perfect, it can’t hurt to have that competitive edge by knowing what to expect. By putting in an effort to practice and avoid common hurdles beforehand, you’re doing yourself a big favour – and paving your way to success in Skype interviews!

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