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Ready for your Skype close-up?

Skype interview illustration

You wisely took our recent advice on how to prepare your resume and you’ve made it to the next stage – the Skype interview. It is as important as the in-person interview and, for a remote job, can replace the in-person interview entirely. So, you need to ace it. Here’s how to get ready.

Prepare the Location

  • Some people advise having a blank wall behind you, some say to put a plant or a bookcase behind you. Either way, remove all clutter and all personal items.
  • If you are using a laptop or mobile device, prop it up on a stack of books or a box so the camera is at eyebrow level for the most becoming angle of your face.
  • Place the light in front of you. Natural light is best, but work with what you have. Move a desk or floor lamp so it’s in front and slightly above you. Make sure it isn’t so bright it will make you squint.
  • Check your internet connections, phone connections and all other equipment to make sure everything works. Don’t wait until five minutes before you’re scheduled to start – you don’t want to be sweaty from crawling under your desk or flustered because of wonky equipment.
  • If you’ll be home during your Skype session, do a test run to find the location with the best wi-fi signal.
  • Turn off all other programs and browsers on your computer. Nothing says “not interested” like having your attention wander off to read an email or a tweet. That kind of distraction is apparent to the person on the other end and they could easily cut short the interview right then.
  • If you are likely to be distracted by your own talking head in the bottom of the screen, either adjust the Skype settings or just put a Post-It note over it.
  • Send the kids to a neighbor and make sure the dog is fed and walked and asleep in another room. It’s hard to be professional if the baby is crying and the dog is scratching at the door.

Prepare Yourself

  • Know what’s on your resume and be ready to talk about it. In detail. It’s okay to have notes prepared to help you remember some of those details – the interviewer can’t see them. On the other hand, you don’t want to be shuffling through a pile of papers or actually reading from your notes, either. Use sticky notes or index cards or whatever is easy to spread out and access as you need them.
  • Also be ready to talk about your LinkedIn profile. The details should match your resume, as we discussed here.
  • There’s a YouTube video famous for the guy actually getting dressed – on camera – during his interview. Dress as you would for an in-person interview. Some say top to bottom, some say only the part that shows. We just say get dressed before the interview and will leave it to you as to how it makes you feel to be wearing your SpongeBob Square Pants PJs while talking about your professional capabilities.
  • If possible, have someone play the part of the interviewer so you can practice what you want to say and how you want to say it. It can also feel weird talking to someone who really isn’t in the room with you, so if that practice session is via Skype, so much the better.

During the interview

  • Watch your body language, including hand gestures while talking. They’re distracting.
  • Talk to the camera, which you have already set at eye level, so it looks like you are talking to the interviewers. The impulse is to talk to the computer screen, since that’s where those friendly interviewers seem to be.
  • Smile or, at the very least, look pleasant and confident. It’s okay to be nervous, but you’ve gotten this far, so you have a good chance of making it to an offer. Let your expression reflect that you know your stuff.
  • Have a glass of water handy, so if your throat gets dry, you don’t have to say “hold on, let me get a drink”.

After the Interview

Whew, you made it! It’s done and you answered their questions concisely, thoroughly and with confidence. The next step is, hopefully, the face to face interview. Before you completely relax, however, you have one more task: say thank you. A handwritten thank you note to the interviewers goes a long way, but even a thank you email will add a definite plus mark in your column.

Good luck!

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