By Gerald Walsh ©
For first interviews, employers will usually interview candidates in person, if they live nearby. Candidates who live out of town will likely be interviewed by Skype.
Here’s the problem. Since face-to-face is the best way to interview, candidates being interviewed in person have a natural advantage over those being interviewed by Skype.
If you are one of the out-of-town candidates being interviewed by Skype, you can level the playing field by following these simple tips:
Dress like it is an in-person interview.
The tendency in Skype interviews is to dress more casually than you would if you were in the employer’s office. This is a mistake – you should always dress like the employer.
Also, never wear business attire above the waist and casual attire below the waist. I once asked an interviewee – who seemingly was dressed in shirt and tie – to move his computer around so I could see him in a better light. When he got up to move, I could see he had sweat pants on.
Be conscious of what your surroundings say about you.
I’ve interviewed people whose computer was in their bedroom and I could see the unmade bed behind them. Another person’s cat kept jumping up on her lap during the interview. Your surroundings reflect on your professionalism, so pay attention. A plain wall can be a perfect backdrop.
Set up your computer at the right height.
A number of people use laptops on their desks and sit close to them. This means the person on the other end is looking up at you with a better view of your ceiling than of you. Always make sure your computer is at eye level.
And be sure to look at the camera, not yourself. 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.
Think about lighting.
Proper lighting will always make you look better. Overhead lighting or light from behind you will tend to wash out your face or even cast a shadow on your face. The best type of lighting is natural light. If you don’t have natural light, use a small lamp, like a table lamp, to illuminate your face. Here's a short You Tube video with more tips on lighting.
Invest in a headset and external camera.
Most computers have a built-in microphone and camera. But purchasing a headset with microphone will definitely help with sound and voice clarity. They aren’t expensive. I use a Logitech headset that sells for $49. There are ones even less expensive.
Don’t check your email or browse online during the interview.
The interviewer can see what you are doing. The best practice is to close out all other programs on your computer so you won’t be tempted at all.
Make sure you have strong Internet connection.
This is important especially if you live in a rural area where coverage is not as good. And get the interviewer’s telephone number so that you can call them immediately if something happens to your connection.
Set up your Skype contact details in advance.
You should send these at least a day before the interview so the employer has plenty of time to accept. At the same time, determine who is going to initiate the call. Usually the employer does it but don’t take anything for granted.
Practice, practice, practice.
Make sure you know how Skype 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.
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Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. 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