by Ben Davies
The traditional job interview takes place in a face-to-face setting, normally in a quiet location, with just yourself and the interviewer/s present. Imagine now that you are in an interview where you are not in the same room as the interviewer.
In fact you are not in the same city. Or the same country, even. Imagine no more. Skype interviews have become increasingly common lately, and they offer both advantages and disadvantages to the traditional format.
What is Skype?
Skype is a web-based program that allows real-time international communication. The only necessary equipment is an Internet connection, and hardware to run the program itself. Using Skype, you can make phone calls or video calls for free with high quality audio and video (depending on the internet connection of each party involved). It has revolutionized international communication, and has brought people in touch with each other who would otherwise be separated by long distances.
Skype is so popular that it has been made available not just on your usual home computers, but also for Sony's PSP, some mobile phones, dedicated handsets, and the like. So how is it being used in recruitment?
Why do job interviews by Skype?
Job interviews using Skype have risen in popularity tremendously lately. It's easy to see numerous advantages to this. In this age of international recruitment, it offers a viable alternative to flying half way across the world for a two-hour job interview.
Skype allows the interviewers and interviewees to talk in the same setting but with effectively no cost to either party. It's not just international recruitment, though, that is making good use of Skype. The high cost of fuel has made even intercity travel more expensive and less appealing, so Skype again is a reasonable alternative.
How is it different?
Skype interviews are perhaps more akin to telephone interviews than anything else. One of the key differences between being interviewed by Skype and a face-to-face interview is that you don't have that direct physical presence. Although you can see them in real time, there is something different about it. It can be difficult to warm to the interviewer because of that. Listen carefully, then, to their words and tone of voice and try to relax. Equally, you really have to do your best to put yourself across because the interviewer has the same constraints, so speak clearly and confidently. Show your personality by what you say and how you act. Charisma doesn't travel too well by Skype.
How can you use it to your advantage?
Being interviewed by Skype presents a few advantages. It is possible to have notes either on screen or printed out for reference if necessary. Use these discreetly, if at all. Also, some find that being interviewed in the privacy of their living room or another quiet place is actually more relaxing than a face-to-face interview.
Etiquette and tips
Perhaps the most important tip to keep in mind is to make sure that your hardware and software is working properly. Arrange for someone to make a practice call to you shortly before the interview to ensure everything is in order.
Furthermore, and this can't be emphasized enough, make sure the area where you are conducting the interview is quiet and that you won't be disturbed. This means public places should be avoided (background noise is incredibly distracting when using Skype) and pets, children, spouses or random people should leave you undisturbed during the interview.
Bear in mind, also, that although you aren't physically in the same room as the interviewer, you should maintain the same levels of professionalism. This includes dressing appropriately. If you look like you've just woken up your professional image will be shattered in an instant.
Follow the same guidelines as you would when preparing for a traditional interview. Wear smart clothes, be well groomed, and even brush your teeth! If you need a glass of water or something, prepare it before the interview starts.
Although in day-to-day conversation we sometimes speak at the same time as our interlocutor, it's nearly impossible to communicate this way using Skype. So if the other person is speaking wait until they have finished before you say anything, otherwise both voices become muffled and unclear.
Act both naturally and professionally. This would include such things as maintaining appropriate eye contact (by looking at the camera and not the screen!), sitting properly, not fidgeting, and paying proper attention to what the interviewer is saying.
If you cannot hear the interviewer due to interference or connection problems, there is no shame in asking them to repeat the question. Also, if your connection is lost during the call, don't let it throw you into confusion. Simply call them back or wait for them to return the call, and explain what happened.
- Prepare well, as you would for any other intervie
- Make sure you will be left undisturbed during the interview
- Dress appropriately
- Make a practice call to a friend before the interview
- Use a quiet place for the interview
- Speak clearly
- Maintain good eye contact
- Don't be distracted by anything else going on around you
- If there are technical issues, calmly try to resolve them
- Follow the usual tips for a successful job interview