More and more recruiters are using video calling as a tool for conducting a job interview. Most likely, you will be asked the same questions as in a normal face-to-face interview with the recruiter. However, there are a few things you need to do to prepare yourself properly.
In this article you will receive the most important tips to prepare you for an interview via Skype (or in any case via video conference), I will list the most frequently asked questions, and I will give you some final tips to avoid the most common mistakes in this type of interviews.
The advantages of the Skype interview
Skype, or video-calling, in recent years, has become a very popular way to conduct a job interview remotely, even in Italy.
Sometimes, companies use Skype as the first step in the selection process, replacing it with the traditional first exploratory interview over the phone. Other times, the Skype interview is used in the second and even third round of the selection.
For candidates, the convenience of interviewing from home can be seen as a bonus. Taking an interview via Skype, in fact, can save you the money and time you should have allocated to the trip.
How to prepare for a Skype interview
If you prepare early for your next Skype interview, this will be less stressful than a normal “live” interview. Below, you will find the tips to perfectly prepare you for any job interview via Skype.
Step 1 of 3
- Download Skype (if you don’t have it yet). At least a few days before the date of the interview. Skype is free for users; it allows you to chat, make calls, and video calls with another user.
- Create a professional “username”. With Skype, people can search for you by your first or last name. Make sure you don’t use your nicknames to create your username or any other name that doesn’t refer to you.
- Test a first call and video call with a friend or family. Before taking the interview, make sure you can easily activate and answer a call. This way you will evaluate the operation of the microphone and the camera. Practice by practicing looking straight into the camera trying to be comfortable.
Step 2 of 3
- Adjust the lights. The recruiter must see you well during the video call. For this, make sure you are in a bright enough place and that the windows do not create particular plays of light and shadow at the time you set the appointment. The light must not be too dark or too bright, otherwise, you will be a spot of light, or you will blind the selector. Find the right lights by doing a test video call before the interview.
- Make sure you have a proper and tidy background. Even if your focus is on the monitor, remember that the recruiter will see everything behind you. Before conducting the interview, make sure you choose a place with the right background. I advise you to choose an empty or almost empty wall so that there are no sources of distraction. If you want to interview in a public place, be sure to choose a quiet and peaceful place and wear headphones or earphones to block out any background noise and allow the interviewer to hear you well. If you live with other people, and you will have the interview at your home, let them know that you will have to do the interview and that they will not have to interrupt you.
Step 3 of 3
- Take a test at least one hour before the interview. Make sure your microphone and camera are working again so everyone is ready for the video call.
- Make sure you have clarified “who contacts whom”. Before taking the interview, will you be the one to get in touch with the recruiter or vice versa? If you initiate the video call, ask the recruiter for their username a few days before the interview. Add this contact to yours. Then, when he has accepted your contact request, simply call him.
- Write down the things you want to talk about, and stick them in memory. Preparing to address a few questions before taking the interview is not only normal but also desirable. You want to talk to, you won’t spend the whole interview staring at your note sheet. Remember that eye contact is key.
- Print a copy of your CV. Having a hard copy of your resume on hand could be useful if the recruiter urges you to check, read, comment on a particular passage. Since you are not in the same room it would be difficult for him/her to show you that passage, and if you start looking for the file on your computer, you will waste precious time.
What to do an hour before the interview
To prepare yourself to play your cards right and have a great interview, make sure you take these steps.
- Warn people who are in the house with you not to disturb you for a long enough time. Don’t bet on the fact that usually, when you’re in your study or bedroom, no one comes looking for you.
- Silence the phone. And take it away from your station. There is no need to interrupt the interview because you receive a phone call, or to get distracted by some message you could easily read later.
- Close all applications and programs. Another way to stay totally focused on the interview is to close all applications and programs on your computer, tablet, or phone. You will never want a window or pop up to open and distract you from the conversation.
- Dress to impress (without distorting yourself). Just because you are interviewing in a familiar and “casual” context, does not mean that your outfit has to be “boring”. Wear what you would wear for a normal face to face interview. This will also help you feel more confident. Dress to reflect your personality but taking into account the position and company for which you are interviewing. Beware of colors that may be too bright on video, or too dark and degrade the quality of the transmitted image. The best solution is to stay in a classic and simple style.
- Prepare some water. Partially place a glass of water on your computer in case your throat gets dry due to too much talking or agitation.
- Prepare some blank paper and a pen. Keep a blank sheet of paper and a pen with you so you can write down the questions you want to ask the recruiter later in the conversation, or the requests he will ask you. It is not that unlikely that you will be prompted to follow some action, such as sending an email with attachments.
What to do during the interview via Skype
Here are the basic tips to put into practice during the interview with the recruiter, to be professional, polite, and prepared.
- Smile politely. In many ways, the Skype interview is identical to any other job interview. For example, whether you’re having a face-to-face or video interview, remember to smile friendly! Smiling will help show the recruiter that you are engaged in the conversation and excited about the position you are applying for.
- Be focused. Remember to keep your eyes straight on the camera – not your interlocutor’s face on the monitor – to make it appear that you are looking the person in the eye. Do not let your guard down: the fact of being at your home may in some moments make you think that you are not seen. Keep your eyes on the other person: the recruiter deserves your full attention, so stay focused and friendly.
- Keep your notes with you. It is ideal to have with you a list of all the things you want to mention during the interview, so you won’t forget them. Sometimes, the conversation takes unexpected directions, you may run the risk of forgetting what you want to highlight about your story or your qualities.
- Stay in control. Don’t panic if the technology comes at you (slow connection or skipping, earphones failing, etc.). There is always a chance that something goes wrong when technology is involved. When you start the interview, make sure your interlocutor sees and hears you well. If something does not go the right way during the interview, do not get upset. Stay calm and try to manage the problem. You can suggest stopping the call and start a new one.
- Pay attention to body language. Distance in this doesn’t help. Pay more attention than usual to how your body and voice express the right engagement in the conversation. Avoid closed attitudes such as crossing your arms. Also, when the recruiter is talking, nod your head to express that you agree and understand. And when you speak, lean your body slightly forward and gently gesticulate to communicate energy and enthusiasm. Obviously without exceeding. Finally, make sure you’re sitting straight – this will not only make you look more professional, it will also help you feel confident.
The most frequently asked questions about a Skype interview
Below you will find a list of the most frequently asked questions that a recruiter usually asks the candidate during the video interview. Read the list of frequently asked questions and practice answering them comprehensively before the interview.
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why do you want this job?
- Why do you want to work for this company?
- Why did you decide to leave your previous job?
- Why should we hire you instead of another candidate?
- You can explain your moments of unemployment in your professional history.
- What qualities do you possess that could be relevant to the company?
- What is your best strength?
- What is your biggest weakness?
- Tell me about an episode where you showed a particular quality that belongs to you
- Are you a flexible person at work?
- What do you like best: working independently or working in a team?
- Can you handle criticism well?
- What would you do if you didn’t get along with someone on your team?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- Have you ever played a role that you think wasn’t right for you?
- What is the best result you have achieved at work?
- Tell me about a situation where you worked well under pressure and managing stress
- Tell me about a time you had to overcome a tough challenge at work.
- What are your salary expectations?
A Skype interview aims to allow the recruiter to know a little more about you, your history, your professional background and get an idea of what performance you will have if you are hired for that job.
You will most likely be asked a series of questions regarding your motivation, to understand what kind of employee you are, why you want to work for that company, what research you have done to learn more about the industry and the company’s work.
In addition to motivational questions and questions regarding the research you have conducted on the company, there is the possibility that you will be asked questions regarding typical situations in the workplace.
These questions are aimed at identifying how you behaved in similar situations in your previous jobs. To answer this type of question use the STAR method: that is, tell an episode, a situation in which you had to complete a task (an important task), then talk about the action you took to overcome the challenge, and finally, talk about the result you got.
It is very important to prepare your answers before the interview. And even if you have your notes on hand, be sure not to read your paper as you answer, or the recruiter will think that you have fabricated an answer and that what you say is not spontaneous and natural, and probably does not belong to you.
Last but not least: prepare a series of questions to ask the recruiter regarding the company, your doubts, and the position you will hold if you are hired.
Mistakes to avoid during a video interview
You’ve seen how to behave appropriately and what to do to prepare for a perfect job interview on Skype. I conclude the article by telling you about the mistakes to avoid during a job interview via video.
Here is a final list of the mistakes you absolutely must avoid during a Skype interview. Some are intuitive and have already been mentioned above, while others may be less obvious.
- Being too “casual” and being overly informal. Even if it reassures you to be “at a distance”, sheltered within the walls of your home or in a context that is familiar to you, do not make the mistake of being too comfortable and indulge in the sensations of still being in your comfort area. Be sufficiently formal, professional, and do not forget about education. The recruiter will also evaluate you for these characteristics.
- Don’t rehearse before the interview. As written above, technology is not foolproof. Do not assume that the moment you turn on your PC everything will work perfectly for the interview. To prevent your PC from freezing due to any software updates (Skype publishes frequent updates), programs, webcam, and microphone hitches, make sure to test that everything works in the days before, and at least a couple of hours before the appointment.
- Don’t care about the camera angle and the lights. The recruiter must see you well, and this doesn’t just mean clearly and not blurry. It also means that you will need to be well lit, and your webcam will need to point in the right direction for your shot to be nice and proportionate. Do not cut sides of your face, do not frame parts that do not fit, in this way you will be natural and the recruiter will see you normally.
- Don’t pay attention to the background. The selector will focus on everything he sees on the screen in front of him. You may think that this means that he will just see you, and not the mountain of clothes you have stacked behind you, or the remains of your breakfast or lunch. Or you think that he will not notice that, in the middle of the interview, your cat lies down on the desk. You need to introduce yourself professionally; this does not only concern you but also the context in which you support the interview.
- Being distracted. Since you will be at home, or in another context, and it is possible that you are not completely alone, the odds of you being distracted or interrupted by something or someone, while holding the interview, are many. Neutralize any source of potential disturbance, and even if something does happen, try hard not to take your eyes off your interlocutor, or face the problem head-on by intervening immediately rather than pretending nothing is happening.
This is what you need to know to have a successful Skype or video interview. If you follow the entire preparation schedule and practice the answers to be credible and confident, you will have nothing to fear.