As companies grow more and more open to remote work, the number of employers seeking to schedule interviews with candidates outside of their own cities steadily increases.
In some situations (ones that would require relocation and would involve senior titles and salaries), companies will pay for candidates to fly to their location to interview in person. But when dealing with candidates for positions designed to be remote, many employers choose to schedule phone or video interviews, and the latter frequently happens thanks to Skype. This video-chat platform takes interview precedence over other popular choices like FaceTime, largely because it easily enables group chats, can be utilized on any computer or mobile device (in contrast, FaceTime remains exclusive to Apple products), and can even connect employers with candidates living internationally.
However, while you may feel comfortable with and accustomed to in-person interviews, Skype chats come with a unique set of questions and challenges. If you’re nervous about an upcoming Skype interview and want some video chat-specific guidance, we’ve got you covered.
How should you prepare for a Skype interview?
1. Take it seriously
Video chatting can put a deceptively casual spin on the interview process. But while a video chat allows you to choose your own location, perhaps even taking the interview within the comfort of your own home, it’s important to approach a Skype interview with the same level of gravity you’d apply to an on-site conversation with a prospective employer. After all, the end goal of the interview remains the same: the company wants to fill a needed position, and you want to be considered for the role. Don’t let the presence of your pet dog or the nearby framed photo of your gal pals at a bachelorette party distract you from your purpose.
2. Choose the right location
When choosing a location for a Skype interview, peace and quiet represent the most important elements. Preferably, you’ll also select an area with minimal decor, as you’ll want to avoid anything that may distract the employers from the content of your conversation. If you have a home office with a stripped-down aesthetic, that works well for a Skype interview. Otherwise, any seated area with a blank wall behind you serves a similar purpose. Try to place your computer on an elevated surface; taking a Skype interview with a computer placed in your lap will result in angles that will reveal what you’re doing to your interviewers and may lead them to question your professionalism.
3. Find good lighting
In terms of lighting, Skype advises using several lights to fully illuminate your face and avoid unpredictable shadows. On the Skype Blog, Skype user and former filmmaker Howard Ellison claims that “you need at least four lights to look glam.” Ellison’s full advice is as follows:
“He suggests adjusting one light so that it’s not quite entirely on your face and raising it so that it highlights your facial features in a flattering way. Adjust a second, weaker light on the opposing side to fill shadows. The third, he says, should be positioned above your head to highlight your hair and the fourth one should light the background space. Ellison also suggests placing a white sheet of paper on the surface in front of you to reflect light, because ‘the last thing you want is that ghoulish blue fish face we get from screen glow.’”
What should you wear to a Skype interview?
As we mentioned previously, a Skype interview should be approached in the same manner as an in-person interview. Therefore, candidates should follow the same dress-code rules when video-interviewing.
According to Alison Green of Ask a Manager, these rules necessitate a suit more often than not. “Here’s the deal with suits and job interviews: You need to know the norms for interview dress for your own field. And not just your field in general, but your field in your particular geographic area. The norms for banking jobs in California can be different from the norms for banking jobs in Chicago. So you need to know your field, and how it plays out in your particular area. When you are unsure and can’t seem to find out, wear a suit … because the vast majority of candidates applying for professional jobs should be wearing a suit for interviewing. Exceptions include parts of California (not all of it), parts of tech and design (not all of it), and a small number of others. But most people should be wearing a suit to an interview,” Green explains.
Crucially, don’t fall into the too-common trap of dressing professionally only from the waist up during a Skype interview. You never know when you’ll need to stand up suddenly or adjust your camera’s position, and letting your interviewers catch a glimpse of your Superman PJ pants won’t do anything to bolster your professional appearance.
Pick the right color
As far as specific colors go, rich, saturated hues and crisp neutrals will project a polished air. Neons should be avoided, as should “busy” patterns that may distract interviewers. Jewelry should be simple and understated, and it’s important to check your lighting to make sure that the accessories you wear don’t create unwanted light reflections.
As with an in-person interview, bold and dramatic makeup should be avoided, including significant eyeshadow and brightly-colored lipstick. In fact, because the Skype player zooms in on your face, this rule proves particularly vital. Hair should be styled in a way that allows full visibility of your face.
Should you use a headset during a Skype interview?
It may seem like a good idea to wear a headset during a Skype interview, since the use of one can remove diverting outside sounds and provide you with an improved audio experience. However, wearing one can raise concerns among interviewers that you haven’t chosen a sufficiently-quiet and removed place for your call. Therefore, it’s better to pick a room that allows you to clearly hear your interviewers and lets them catch every word you say into your computer microphone without the use of a headset.
Other Skype interview tips
Be sure to double- and triple-check the strength of your internet connection before starting your Skype call, as screen-freezing or audio cut-outs may weaken the strength of your interview communication.
One of the benefits of a remote interview can be the ability to refer to notes while discussing your interest in the role and your past work experiences. However, make sure to keep your note-reading to a minimum and to maintain the same level of eye contact with your interviewers that you’d use when meeting in-person.