Tips and Tricks for Skype Interviews

As recruiters, we Skype on the daily and we’ve encountered the best of the best and, unfortunately, the worst of the worst. Since everything comes with its learning curves, we thought we’d share our accumulated insights about Skype do’s and don’ts. The overarching theme is simple: act as if the interview is the same as a face-to-face meeting. Would you shave for an in-person interview? Then please, get rid of your 5 o’clock shadow for your Skype interview. Would you wear a button-up shirt with PJ bottoms to an in-person interview? Then please, wear a complete outfit and don’t just dress up your upper half. (Besides, you never know when you need to stand up to go grab something during a Skype interview…). Based on Smart Savvy’s collective years of experience, here are our recruiter’s tips for that upcoming Skype or Facetime interview you have and want to ace.


No Narcissism

Just kidding – but really, don’t stare at yourself the whole interview. We know Skype offers that lovely little “picture in picture” screen that shows yourself and severely heightens your sense of self-awareness, but do your best to ignore it. Our Comms/PR guru Marina Guy even suggests covering the screen of yourself with a post-it note so you can instead focus on staring into the camera and at the screen of the other person. Focus on the recruiter and maintain good eye contact, which will also limit other bad habits we’ve seen, such as constantly fixing your hair.


Build a Frame

Once a recruiter can see your dirty laundry basket, that is the only thing they’re going to see the entire time. If you think a bedroom with open doors to your wardrobe or a psychedelic painting in the background is a good idea, think again. In the case of a background for Skype, simpler is better. Select a location that has a clean, pleasant background and then build the frame around yourself, our principal Peter Reek suggests. Remove all possible distractions from the location, such as nearby TVs, ringing phones, espresso steamers (if you’re in a coffee shop, as an obvious last resort), and yes, even kids or pets. We believe you that they’re cute, but we still don’t want to see any sticky fingers or cat fur covering the camera.


Watch Your Body Language

Again, do what you would do if the interviewer were across the table from you. Even though there’s a screen and much distance between you and the recruiter, lean in to demonstrate enthusiasm and to build a connection, keep your hands on the desk in front of you, and certainly don’t rock your chair. Be engaged and understand just how much weight body language and nonverbal communication have, our Toronto recruiter Sebastian Pavlovec advises.


Channel Your Inner Buzz Lightyear

Invest in a headset and rock it like a boss. Peter Reek, Skyping extraordinaire, says built-in mics and speakers are usually lackluster and the difference between a headset and other mics are night and day. If you don’t want to be leaning over to talk into your mic (think every Oscar awards ever) then take the time to spend a little for a huge return. If gamers do it, why wouldn’t you?


Lights, Camera, Action

When it comes to a Skype call and technology, you’ve got to know that almost anything can go wrong. There’s nothing worse than feedback in the speakers when you go to say hello, a black screen where there should be a person, or a frozen video of you when you’re half-blinking and talking. To avoid minor glitches, here’s some tech advise straight from the mouths of our recruiters (AKA professional Skypers):

  • “Remove any running applications on your computer that may interfere with your Skype connectivity.” – research manager, Rose Atkinson.
  • Always, always test your audio and video connection with a friend ahead of time.” – Washington recruiter, Matthew Campbell.
  • “You may be connected even if you think you’re not. Remember that sometimes audio is working when video isn’t, so don’t say anything you’ll regret later.” – comms/PR recruiter, Marina Guy.
  • “No double chins, please. Angle your computer so that you are shown shoulders up and not so you are looking down at the computer.” – marketing recruiter, Jaylene Crick.
  • “Make sure you plug in your laptop so you have a strengthened wireless connection and you’re not running out of power mid-interview.” – principal, Peter Reek.
  • “One of the benefits of Skype is that you can have notes at the ready, either on screen or on paper. You want to be cautious not to come across as too scripted or reading from a book.” – sales recruiter, Keith Bradley.


Leave the Buffet in the Fridge

Look, we know leftover Chinese food is delicious but please do wait until after a Skype interview to eat it. For starters, chowing down on noodles while explaining your expertise in professionalism doesn’t really go hand in hand. Secondly, I’m really hungry too (heck, I’m a recruiter – when was the last time I had a proper lunch break?) but you don’t see me feasting on lunch or snacking on Doritos during our interview. Be aware of the fact that making a fantastic first impression with a full mouth is very difficult to do. We don’t want to sound like your mother with the old adage “Don’t talk with your mouth full,” but seriously, don’t. The same can be said for chewing gum.

What else would you suggest for a Skype interview? Any learned lessons along the way? Let us know in the comments below!

photo cred.