I recently picked up a request from a Year 11 student in school, who was worried about having a “Skype” interview for an Apprenticeship vacancy, and wanted some Skype interview tips. Working with the pastoral team at the school, I put together some guidelines based on our experience and knowledge, to help him. I thought these would be helpful for others in similar situations…
So you have a “Skype” interview and aren’t sure how to prepare…
“Skype” interviews are becoming more common place in 21st Century job hunting, making interviews quicker in many cases for all involved. Sometimes they are combined with completing a skills test or psychometric test but not always. If you have never completed a “Skype” interview your first one can sometimes feel a little daunting, however, there are some simple Skype interview tips which outline some steps you can take to help them go more smoothly.
1)Check with the potential employer that this will be a “Skype” interview and not using other software such as “Google Hangouts”.
2) Ensure that you know whether they will be calling you or if you should be calling them and at what time.
3) Make sure you know who will be calling or who you will be calling (if required); including whether their user ID is different to their name.
If you are unsure of any of the above, call the employer in advance to clarify details. This can often be done through the reception if a small company. If a larger company, arrange to speak to the Human Resources or Recruitment manager. If the interview is through a recruitment agency and not employer, contact them directly.
For the interview itself, make sure that you dress as if you were attending a real interview (smart business dress in most cases is appropriate). Ensure you have any notes to hand that may help, for example, a copy of your application or CV. This will help you to remember personal details about yourself. Also, having a copy of the job description to hand can be useful.
With regards the room you are in for the interview, make sure that it doesn’t have an echo (like a bathroom and some kitchens). Ensure the room is clean and tidy and crucially, check what is in the background! You may feel that the latest movie poster on your wall is amazing or are happy to live with the washing up in the kitchen sink, however, your possible employer may not be as impressed. Try and find a neutral background which is clean and tidy. Importantly, make sure you won’t be disturbed or have other family members shouting to each other downstairs.
When you consider the technology you are using, apart from checking the software that has been asked for, you also need to make sure that your computer works. With a “Skype” interview, its usually better to use a laptop or PC than tablet or phone, as the resolution is often better and you can position it away from your face (so the interviewer isn’t looking up your nostrils!). If you have no other choice though, try and use a headset or earphones with built in microphone (as the quality will be better). Make sure the screen and webcam is clean (so they aren’t interviewing you through a cloudy picture). Ideally, try a practice run beforehand with a friend, family member or teacher so you can feel comfortable with the software and setting.
In terms of the interview itself, the usual interview etiquette applies… make eye contact, speak clearly and don’t interrupt them. You won’t be able to shake them by the hand but a clear “Good Morning” (or afternoon) never goes amiss. Be mindful of your body language, and your non-verbal communication including how you sit, make sure you smile and nod to show you are listening. If you have any questions make sure you ask them and if you don’t understand the questions they ask you, make sure you either ask them to repeat or rephrase. If you have any questions with regards the work, have these ready beforehand. In addition, make sure you have done your research on the employer so you know the nature of their business and scope; this can usually be done through the internet (or via local knowledge if you know anyone who either works for the company or done business with them). When you finish the interview, thank them for their time. (For example, saying something like, “Thank you for giving me this opportunity”, can be a positive note to end on). Crucially make sure the interview is ended and let them sign off before you, unless they indicate otherwise.
Finally, make sure you have had enough to eat beforehand and (if you aren’t known for clumsiness) keep a glass of water nearby, in case your throat dries up.