Skype, Interviews and the New Frontier.
In your dreams!
Like many technologies, Skype is rapidly changing the way that many businesses do things, and one of the ways in which is making a difference is in the job market, where telephone interviews are out and Skype interviews are in.
One of my Facebook friends just posted to say that she is having her first interview in living memory and that it is a Skype interview. Her key comment: “Yay! No need for pants!”.
So I thought I’d put in my own advice about how to manage Skype interviews, whether it is for a new job, new client, or fairly much anyone you may want to talk to over the internet:
It might be a Skype interview, but you still need to go into it with a professional mindset and with all the seriousness of a face to face interview, or meeting. Seriously, the last thing you need is to be struck with the irony of speaking with your new boss in your underwear. News presenters might get away with it, but they are trained professionals.
Dress exactly as you would for a normal interview, including hair, makeup and whatever else. Make sure that your work space and room are clean and uncluttered and be mindful of what is behind you, in your backdrop.
Before he was famous for inflicting Watergate on the American public and condemning us to a world in which every scandal seems to have “gate” to the end of it Richard Nixon was famous for flubbing the very first US presidential debate (against JFK in 1960) because he failed to realise how he would come across on the new medium. Similarly, Skype presents a whole range of challenges that aren’t present in face to face interviews.
Make sure that you have good positioning and lighting for your camera and that the image is flattering. If you need to move your computer into a better environment, or steal someone else’s room for the interview then do so. Be careful of going out doors, because even a small gust of wind can sound like a gale on a computer mic.
Pay particular attention to your tone of voice, especially if the video connection is poor. Vibrancy is the key, rather than sounding monotonic, or too rehearsed.
Be prepared for interviewers to ask you to whip the camera around the room so that they can get an idea of how your work space looks. Some will do this, because they believe that a shoddy personal space is reflective of poor work qualities.
Make sure that other people around you know that you are having an important interview and make sure that they know to respect your space and time and to not play music, or engage in other activities that might provide a distraction, or break the impression that you are trying to create.
Finally make sure that you are familiar with the technology and that you are well-practiced on Skype before your interview. If you’ve never used it before, you’ll make a real mess of things, because you’ll be trying to do two unfamiliar, difficult things at once. The last think you want is to be hit with a zinger question and be unable to respond to the question because you are simultaneously doing battle with your webcam.