10 Tips To Master A Skype Interview

By Gerald Walsh ©

I’ve been interviewing a lot of candidates by Skype lately. And it’s not that people are doing anything really bad. It’s just that with a few small tweaks, they could present themselves with more professionalism and credibility and improve their chances of getting the job.   

Let’s recap what you should do to prepare for and conduct a Skype interview:

1. Organize your surroundings.

I’ve interviewed people whose computer was in their bedroom and there was an unmade bed behind them. Another person thought far enough ahead to put his dog outside before the interview. But what he didn’t anticipate was the dog barking at the door throughout the entire interview. If at all possible, choose a clean, uncluttered background and eliminate any distracting objects or noises.

2. Dress the part.

Most people dress for a Skype interview the same way they would for an in-person interview. But this may not always be best. Certain patterns or even colours can affect picture quality and become distracting to the viewer. You should avoid stripes and small patterns as these do not work well on camera. Similarly, white shirts especially when worn with a black or dark suit can make you look washed out. 

3. Set your computer camera at eye level.

Many people use laptops on their desks and sit close to them. Since the laptop is generally lower, the person on the other end is looking up at you with a better view of the ceiling than of you.

I use a laptop in my office. But for every Skype interview, I place a blue plastic recycling bin on my desk (upside down) and put my laptop on top of it. This makes the camera on my laptop is at eye level.

4. Use appropriate lighting to look your best.

Lighting is really important. Overhead lighting or light from behind you will tend to wash out your face or even darken your face. Never sit in front of a window. The best type of lighting is natural light on your face. If you don’t have natural light, use a small lamp, like a table lamp, to illuminate your face.

5. Use decent equipment.

Even though your computer may have a built-in mic, you should try to use a headset to improve your voice volume and clarity, and avoid distracting background noises. I use the Logitech USB headset. It works well and is affordable.

Similarly, you should invest in an external webcam to improve picture quality. Prices range from about $30 to several hundred dollars. I use this one from Logitech which works perfectly fine.

BTW, you can see what you look like on camera by going to Tools/Options/Video Settings and making any necessary adjustments.

6. Test your internet connection.

Make sure you have strong internet connection so there are no breaks or delays during the interview. And always get the interviewer’s telephone number. That way you can call them immediately if there is a technical glitch of any sort.

7. Look at the camera, not yourself.

We are all curious about how we look so there’s a great temptation to look at yourself in the lower right hand corner. But doing so causes you to lose eye contact with the interviewer – not a good idea.

8. Don’t be checking your email or browse online during the interview.

The interviewer can see you and it’s very obvious what you are doing. Actually, the best practice is to close out all other programs on your computer so you won’t be tempted at all.

9. First impressions count.

Make sure your Skype user name and profile picture present you in a professional way. Please: no pictures of your pets or inappropriate images. If you want, you can always create a second Skype account for friends and family.

10. Lastly, practice, practice, practice.

I know you wouldn’t consider giving a speech without rehearsing. The same rationale applies to Skype interviews. Make sure you know how it works by practising with a friend online. Talking into a computer screen will feel awkward but a few rehearsals should ease those concerns. You will learn how to use the technology and how to present yourself professionally.

A final tip: If you are not already a Skype user, commit to setting up your Skype account over the next few days and testing it with a friend or family member so you know how it works. I can think of several times when I had a planned Skype interview set up with a candidate but they hadn’t bothered to figure it out beforehand. The result was they missed their interview and did not leave a favourable impression on me at all.


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Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. During a 25+ year career, he has interviewed more than 15,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @@Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn.