15 Great Skype Interview Tips (Part 1)

Next week I have a job interview via Skype. I’ve done phone-based interviews, but never using Skype. Anything I should or shouldn’t do?

There are a number of things that should be considered when doing a Skype or Google Hangout based interview. It’s not just simply a phone call with video. It’s much more complex than a phone call for a number of reasons. The video brings with it the need for proper lighting, computer-based sound quality, and understanding of facial and hand-based body language and other similar challenges. As you will see, the items listed are divided into five categories; Technology, Preparation, Screen Logistics, Delivery, and Post Call Activities, the first two of which will be in this week’s column.

When reading these tips, take note that they are also great for internal company meetings, discussions with vendors, and any other online conversation.

Technology: These are the activities that you should address now, even before you have an interview scheduled. The reason for this long-term preparation is that these technical items can take a while to get right. As you will see, it may mean rearranging the furniture in your home office, buying new equipment, and or upgrading your internet connectivity. 1. Quality audio and video: This may mean buying a webcam, finding a quiet place to work, upgrading your internet connection speed, buying/borrowing a better computer, or even soundproofing your walls. This may sound a little extreme, but to illustrate the point, watch a couple of poorly done YouTube videos and you will see that bad sound and/or video is extremely distracting and as a result can dramatically reduce the effectiveness of your interview. 2. Room lighting: The right or wrong lighting in the room can literally be the difference between looking great and looking like your evil twin. Strong light coming from behind you can make it impossible for the interviewer to see your face. Uneven light from left to right puts half your face in shadows. 3. Camera placement relative to your face: The camera should be directly in front of you and at your eye level. If the camera is too high, it looks like you are looking up at the person interviewing you, which could be viewed as a position of weakness. If the camera is below head level, the interviewer will be looking up your nose, which is most likely not your most attractive view. 4. Technology test run: Once you have all your technology in place, practice its use with a friend. He/she can tell you how you look on screen, as well as the quality of your lighting, sound and audio. Also, if you are not a regular Skype user, it will give you some practice using the software.

Preparation: On the day of the your interview, in addition to proper preparation for the interview itself, there are also a number of the things you should do specifically related to the Skype component. 1. Room prep and camera placement: The placement of the camera within the room is extremely important because it defines what is behind you within the picture frame. Make sure there is nothing distracting or inappropriate behind you, as it can dramatically reduce your chances of making a favorable impression. Also, be sure the displayed area is clean and free of anything that could be construed as confidential and/or proprietary. 2. Be appropriately dressed: Note that the title of this line isn’t “wear a shirt and tie”. Every job and industry has appropriate interview attire. Dress as if you were physically going to the interviewer’s office to meet him/her in person. Just because the interview is video-based, it doesn’t mean it’s any less formal. 3. Turn off your electronics: Just as you would for an in-person interview, remember to turn off your cell phone. Additionally, if you are at home, remember to unplug your land line, the alarm on your watch, and anything else that could potentially start beeping or playing music on its own. 4. Inform your family members: If your interview is at home, make sure your family members know that you will be on camera as well as on the phone. This warning can save you the painful embarrassment of having your spouse or roommate unknowingly walk through the picture frame scantily clad.

In this week’s column we discussed the first two categories of Skype related tips. Next week’s column will discuss Screen Logistics, Delivery, and Post Call Activities.

If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.

Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to build your professional brand.

Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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