Online Interviews: Be Ready!

Conducting interviews on platforms such as Skype saves personnel agencies and employers hours of time. Skype is a great way for employers to give all qualified applicants who are willing to relocate for work a fair crack of the whip. In order to be ready to impress your potential employer, there are a few basic but incredibly important things about online interviews.

Here are a few tips which will certainly give you a great chance of impressing the interviewer and getting that all important second interview or job:

1. Software and Hardware

Firstly, you need to get accustomed to the software and its features. You must be comfortable and confident when using it so during your conversation with the interviewer you will be fully concentrated on the interview, and not stressing out about the software. You also have to make sure that your microphone and camera are working properly as well as having a strong internet connection. If you are on a wireless device you should make sure that the WIFI is working at an optimum level. Being in close proximity to the WAP should help solve any wireless connection issues. Make sure your battery is charged – there have been a few occasions where the battery of a tablet has failed halfway through an interview!

2. Roleplay

Have a few practice calls with your friends beforehand and check if the picture is good and if they can hear you well. It may also be a good idea to have a “trial” interview with a friend who can give you valuable feedback on how you look, if the lighting is right and if your voice is loud enough. Some people prefer practicing in front of a mirror which is a great way to judge your performance. However, you have to bare in mind that Skype does change the appearance and the voice a little bit, so even if you are a very confident and charismatic person, it’s always best to make sure you look professional on the screen, know what to do with your hands and which one of your charming smiles looks best.

Recording your first interview is a brilliant way to review how you did in general and establish all the things you might have done wrong. Your first Skype interview is a priceless experience whether you do really well or fail completely. That’s why it is important to record your first interview (and maybe not only the first one), so you can design your performance perfectly for any future interviews.

3. Create your Skype profile

It is very important that your Skype profile and picture look professional. If you already have a personal profile that shows one of your night-out selfies as a profile picture and a totally irrelevant Skype ID, either change it or create a new account for your interview. It is best to choose your Skype ID based on your name or even profession/occupation and your profile picture has to be a decent one. Usually, a smiling head shot is perfect. Remember, the profile pictures on Skype are tiny, so your facial features should be seen and not your bikini.

4. Establish contact with the interviewer

After having exchanged contacts with your interviewer you need to add the person to your contact list as soon as possible. Do not wait for them to add you, we all know how busy people get and how easy it is to lose someone’s contact details in an office when you are multitasking. When adding a person, send them a little message explaining who you are and why you want to add them, you may also want to state the date and the time of your appointed interview. I would advise against calling the interviewer yourself. You can send a little message 10-15 minutes before your interview is due saying that you are ready and will expect their call at the agreed time, but you should wait for them to call you and not another way round. Most recruitment consultants do have excellent time keeping skills but as a reference, you should be wary of a consultant who fails to show up for a scheduled interview – it is totally unprofessional on their part. If something happens and you can’t make the interview on the day you should always either phone or email the person (or both) ASAP, but don’t rely on sending a Skype message; which they might simply overlook and not get the information in time.

5. Prepare your surroundings

Your surroundings can say a lot about you and how you’ve prepared for your interview. Choose a nice looking neutral background and make sure there are no personal items and clutter in sight. Usually, doing an interview against a plain wall or a bookcase works really well. It’s not a good idea to have a window behind you as if it is bright outside you will appear as a dark silhouette. So, don’t turn into a dark entity, but smile and shine! To do that, aim the light at yourself from the front, not from behind you. A lamp with diffused lighting about six feet in front of you works great. Always make sure the camera is angled directly at you and not up your nose or placed high above you.

6. Cats, dogs and children….

Choose a quiet place for your interview. You do not want to be interrupted, so make sure your kids and pets will not disturb you and that your family members are aware of what’s happening and what time the interview is taking place to avoid awkward situations.The last thing you want is favourite feline photo-bombing your prospects.Turn off your phone to avoid signal noises and switch all the Facebook and email notifications on your computer off. Ideally, you should close all the other programs on your computer while talking to your interviewer so as not to cause a distraction.

7. Look the part

When it comes to choosing what to wear, keep in mind that a Skype interview is still an interview and you must look professional. Business casual clothing always works, but you should avoid patterns that come across as too loud on screen, such as anything floral or bright stripes. Also, make sure that your clothes are not the same colour as your background. Some people think that if you are doing an interview on Skype you only need to put a shirt on coupled with your favourite red and white polka dot underwear that “nobody will see anyway”. In most cases it works fine, but be prepared that if something doesn’t go according to plan and you have to stand up in front of the camera….it could be embarrassing.

8. Face the camera

Facing the camera and not the image on the screen is essential. Look directly into the camera and don’t get distracted by the image of yourself or the image of the other party. Most people make this mistake because they want to be sure they look good, but as a result, your interviewer will not get the much desired eye contact. Be prepared that the interviewer will not look into the camera him/herself as they will be interested in watching you, so they will look at you image on the screen. This fact must not prevent you from doing exactly the opposite and looking right into the camera and smiling while speaking. When you look directly at the camera, you will appear to be looking your contact in the eye.

9. Prepare your notes

Lots of people find it helpful to be able to have some notes and other materials in front of them during an interview. While it is impossible to bring all of your papers to an interview at the office and pile them on the desk in front of your interviewer, interviews on Skype allow you to have everything you need at hand and use it if necessary. You obviously need to know what you are talking about; but post-it notes with figures, dates or diagrams around your monitor or tablet can be most helpful and can be taken off covertly during the interview.

10. Be confident!

Remember, confidence and professionalism are the traits that any Employer is looking for. If you look and act professional, know your game and are enthusiastic, you will eventually succeed!

UPDATE: we recommend trying Zoom to conduct your interviews. In our experience it is FAR superior to Skype in terms of audio and video quality!

About Andrew Tilston

As well as running Estate & Manor Magazine on a daily basis, Andrew is also a digital marketer with his own bespoke marketing consultancy where he assists various global entrepreneurs and businesses with their online sales, presence and social media. Andrew worked in Moscow for 10 years where he worked for one of Moscow's wealthiest families as a household governor.

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