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10 Things To Remember When Being Interviewed via Skype

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Skype is now over 10 years old and allows people to interact via video and voice. It operates over the Internet so consequently people can ‘meet’ over long distances. It has been extensively used by recruiters for several years (myself included) and is a great tool to get a feel for an individual, see what they are like and get an understanding of their fit and suitability for a particular role. However there are certain elements that an interviewee should be wary of – the points here are based on the numerous Skype interviews and experiences I have had over the years using Skype.

1. Equipment.
There is nothing more off-putting than seeing a candidate sit down with a cumbersome headset and microphone! It makes the person look like an airline pilot. Also make sure the PC is plugged in and not running on the battery. It is annoying when someone is mid-flow and they just disappear.
2. Position of Camera.
Before you start the interview make sure the interviewer can see you – align the camera so that they have a natural of view of you as possible. Try not to sit too close to the PC/cam. It can distort the interviewer’s view of you and make you look weird.
3. Room
There are certain rooms in a home where it is best not to conduct a Skype interview. Top of that list is the toilet, perching the laptop on your knees. When this did occur to me I had to enquire as to why the candidate was using the toilet to Skype and apparently it was the quietest room in the house! Equally the bathroom is not a great place to conduct an interview, especially on wash days. The expression hanging your dirty linen out to dry was never more apt! Kitchens are OK as long as they are tidy and the background is not cartons from last night’s takeaway and the unwashed plates next to the sink. Gardens are not conducive for successful interviews, especially when you live under the flight path to Heathrow and the interview is late in the afternoon!
4. Environment
Make sure the background of the view of the camera is neutral, nothing is likely to distract the interviewer and to affect the decision making of him/her. E,g. Dolls and teddy bear collections are (I found) particularly distracting. In one instance, interviewing a potential CMO, my eye was drawn to a bong (a piece of paraphernalia used in smoking hashish) that had pride of place on a shelf behind him. It’s important to remember to keep what you do in the privacy of your home private! Also do remember to tidy the room.
5. Lighting
Don’t sit with your back to a window – silhouettes don’t really work. Also try and have as much natural light as possible.
6. Distractions
Often people conduct Skype meetings on a day when they are ‘working from home’. On two occasions my scheduled Skype meeting has also coincided with an appointment with an electrician and plumber. There is nothing more frustrating for an interviewer waiting for a candidate to return to their laptop after they have explained to the workman what needs to be done. Equally if the doorbell does ring (and you are not expecting the workman) please don’t answer it! Also just as you would in a ‘real’ interview – turn your mobile off!
7. Eating and drinking.
In a regular face to face interview you may have been offered a drink by the interviewer. A Skype interview is different. It is really off putting seeing a candidate drinking either a cup of tea or water from a bottle. Also, energy bars, chocolate, breakfast and the remnants of last night’s takeaway should also be left uneaten until after the interview.
8. Appearance
As we work on an international basis, sometimes our morning is the candidate’s night and visa versa. It may be your home but it is an interview and pyjamas are not what you’d usually turn up in for one. Equally full evening dress (bow tie etc.) is not required either.
9. Interruptions
Do tell your girlfriend/boyfriend/flatmate that you are conducting a Skype interview in the living room and that you do not want to be disturbed. There is nothing more distracting for an interviewer than a pretty lady dressed in nothing more than her underwear come across the view of the webcam.
10. Relax and smile!
Do remember that this is an interview and do relax, smile and try and enjoy it. A Skype interview is an experience that can lead to the dream job – just avoid the pitfalls above and it will be fine!