The Skype Interview: Avoiding the Awkward
Updated: May 14
As the remote workforce is growing, so is the popularity of video conference interviews. Here at Rita, we conduct Skype interviews frequently, though we still prefer a face-to-face interview whenever possible.
Interviews can be nerve-wracking. A Skype interview is no exception; and in some cases, they can easily get awkward. There are a few significant differences between interviewing face-to-face and interviewing over a webcam; so here are some things you may want to consider:
1. You're on camera, and that can give you stage fright.
You've heard the classic advice: practice in front of a mirror. It's likewise a good idea to practice in front of your webcam with a friend before the interview. You can work on making your facial expressions and body language appear more natural on camera; and of course you'll also want to test your audio equipment.
You may be tempted to lean in and yell at the screen when you're on a video conference. Please don't. Just speak normally, sitting at reasonable distance from the computer. Make sure you're in a space that doesn't noticeably echo.
You'll also want to test out your lighting beforehand, making sure it's not too bright or too dark. You want make sure you look like you're interviewing for a job, not like you're shining a flashlight on your face while you tell ghost stories.
2. As mama always said, clean your room!
If you're interviewing from home, take stock of your surroundings. Especially if this position requires working from home, you'll want to display a clean, organized environment. A neutral background is best. Remove any unusual, distracting, or potentially embarrassing objects - like that weeks' worth of laundry piled on the furniture or last night's pizza box lying open on the table behind you. At least make sure the area visible to the webcam is clean, neutral, and properly lit - just like any typical work space.
3. Your personal appearance. Because a Skype interview may feel more casual than a traditional interview, you may be tempted to skip brushing your teeth, or decide it's ok to wear your favorite old sweatpants because your lower half will not be on camera.
It's better to dress and groom fully as if you were walking into the company president's office that morning. The effort and preparation that goes into being fully dressed and groomed will make you feel more confident, motivated, and ready for success.
Besides, you're in real trouble if you need to get up mid-interview and retrieve a necessary document from the other room. Stop, drop, and roll is not going to work in this situation.
4. Work out your roommate situation.
Whether you share your space with human or animal roommates, make arrangements to reduce the risk of accidental interruptions or weird noises. Even noise coming from off camera can be distracting, and paint you in an unprofessional light.
5. Punctuality still counts. Treat a Skype interview exactly the same as you would treat an in-office interview.
You don't want to have to awkwardly explain how you missed the first Skype call because you were still walking the dog or combing your hair. Professional, professional, professional.
6. Make sure all your equipment is fully functioning prior to the interview. Because you don't want to be this guy.
This is where testing with a friend comes in handy. You want to display technical competence for potential employers; and you don't want to waste valuable interview time struggling with equipment.
In conclusion, just keep in mind that a Skype interview will involve different dynamics than a face-to-face interview - and that's okay, as long as you are prepared.
Good luck out there!