After spending the semester in London, I decided to spend my summer working, writing and relaxing at home before the big move out to LA. In preparation for my second semester “abroad,” I’ve had to face a particular challenge that plagues those of us living in remote locations – the dreaded Skype interview.
Skype interviews come with a number of concerns – What if the power goes out? What if my roommate decides to blast her music? What if the screen freezes on a horribly embarrassing face? But as with most things, video interviews have their perks. Here are a few tips to conquer your next long-distance interview with confidence.
1. Dress to impress
For me, one of the hardest parts of an interview is figuring out what to wear, so I am always tempted to forgo the headache for Skype interviews. However, I usually decide to suck it up and dress as if I were interviewing in-person (Although I did only iron the front of my blazer last time – shocking, I know). While your interviewer may only see from the shoulders up, dressing professionally from head to toe will help put you in the right frame of mind. Plus, there is that ever-so-slight chance you will have to leave your seat, revealing your SpongeBob pajama shorts to your potential employer.
2. Keep paper and a pen nearby
Use the medium to your advantage! Just like a regular interview, you can and should do research on the company. When you interview via Skype, it might not be a bad idea to jot down some notes on a piece of paper – company news, goals, questions, etc. – and keep it near by for reference. Be careful, though – you don’t want to write notes like it’s your Oscar acceptance speech. The interviewer will know if you’re reading from a set of cue cards. You should also be ready with a pen to take notes. It shows that you’re prepared.
3. Look into the camera
This is probably the most difficult video interview tactic to master. It’s only natural to look at the interviewer – at the computer screen – when you video chat. However, looking at the screen means that, to the interviewer, you are looking down. To add a personal touch, try looking at the camera instead. It will feel like you’re avoiding eye contact when, in fact, you are giving your interviewer the closest possible thing.
4. Think about the location
This is another difficult one. If you live alone, skip ahead to number 5 because you have it made. For those of us who live with roommates, parents, pets and little brothers, we know how precious and rare quiet can be. Do a bit of location scouting – find a quiet place where you’ll be free from distractions. Make sure your dog knows that you have an interview so he knows not to bark between 4 and 4:30 (this is always and issue for me). Also, be mindful of the background. You don’t necessarily want your dirty laundry or your One Direction poster on display. Or maybe you do.
5. Roll with the punches
There is a 99% chance you will experience some kind of technical issue. It could be something as simply as a fuzzy picture or something as troublesome as a broken microphone. Be prepared for any complications that may arise. Always keep calm and do your best to troubleshoot it. Also, make sure your computer is fully changed!
6. Don’t yell!
My parents always seem to think that I can’t possibly hear them on Skype unless they are shouting at the computer screen. Your interviewer may be on the other side of the country, but your mic is inches from your face. Speak in a confidant and professional, yet normal voice. If they cannot hear you on the other end, they will turn up the volume.
Smile through those video interviews – they’re not all that bad! And if anyone has figured out the secret to a successful phone interview, please let me know!