A Skype interview shouldn’t be as awkward as it is. The technology has existed for years, and companies increasingly rely on videoconferencing as more employees work remotely. But, there’s still something that’s a little weird about interviewing for a job on camera from your living room.
Despite the awkwardness, a Skype interview is just as legit as an in-person interview, so you should do everything you can to make it a success. Here are seven tips for making a Skype interview less weird.
Prepare as you would for any other interview.
The Skype interview has some built-in benefits. You have a sort of “home turf advantage.” You don’t have to worry about traffic, transportation issues or getting lost. You don’t even have to wear pants! (Just kidding – wear pants.) However, even though some of the pressure is off, be sure to put the same amount of research and preparation into this interview as you would any other interview. The people on the other side of the camera are still making time to see you, so take the opportunity seriously.
Check the strength of your connection.
Bandwidth issues are annoying during your favorite Netflix series, but they can be a deal breaker in the middle of an interview. Seriously, don’t wait until the morning of your appointment to deal with connectivity problems. Skype outlines its bandwidth requirements and offers testing. Check your connection as far in advance as possible so that you can make alternate arrangements if necessary.
Use ear buds.
Wearing earbuds with a built-in mic will cut down on echoes and distracting feedback. And, unless you’re interviewing for a dance hall DJ gig, opt for earbuds instead of your fancy Beats-style headphones. (The goal isn’t to swap an audio distraction for a visual one.)
Dress the part.
It may feel a little weird to sit on your couch in a suit and tie, but if that’s the dress code where you’re interviewing, you should suit up. Same goes for more casual or creative work environments. However, avoid stripes – they don’t work well on-camera. Also, white or light/pastel colors can make you look washed out.
Pay attention to your lighting and backdrop.
You don’t have to sit in front of a blank wall – in fact, a bookcase or houseplant can add visual interest. But remove clutter and reposition anything that’s overwhelming the shot or looks like it’s sprouting out of your head.
Take advantage of natural sunlight, or position lamps so that they’re highlighting your face. Don’t sit with your back to a window, as that will cast shadows on your face.
Clear the area (virtually and in-person).
Pets, roommates, an overzealous FedEx guy – these well-meaning beings can really ruin a Skype call. Let everyone know about your call in advance (leave a “Please don’t ring the bell” post-it for delivery folks). Ask if you can have the place to yourself (maybe a neighbor can watch Fido). And, if that’s not possible, request that everyone keep the noise level down and stay out of the area you’re using for your interview. Also, remember to turn off things like notification bells and G-Chat.
Do a practice run.
Lastly, put it all together. Ask a friend to Skype with you and give you feedback on sound quality, your back drop and lighting. Put on the outfit you’re planning to wear, and get a second opinion on that too. Your friend can also tell you if you’re doing anything distracting like swiveling in your chair or looking at the screen instead of the camera.
Jenessa Connor is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and young adult author. If you don’t find her in front of her computer, check the local movie theaters and restaurants, Prospect Park or the gym at CrossFit 718.