How to Ace a Skype Interview

Lucky you! You are going to be interviewed for a promising job via Skype. Easy, right? No traffic to contend with, no worrying about unforeseen circumstances like a flat tire, and no worrying about whether or not your handshake is firm enough. A Skype interview should be a cinch.

Not so fast! It’s still an interview and, unlike a phone interview, you will still be face to face. So what do you need to know to ace a Skype interview? Plenty.

Here are 8 tips to help you out.

1) Prepare your surroundings

Look behind you to see what the interviewer is going to see in the camera besides your head. A cluttered background or Grateful Dead posters on the wall are a big no-no. Try to make your background as clutter-free and zen like as possible. The least amount of distractions for the interviewer; the better it is for you.

2) Smile into the camera (not at the screen!)

Most people fixate on their own face on the screen. Ignore the screen. Instead, look directly into the camera and smile the same smile you would use if you were meeting your interviewer face to face. Because essentially you are doing just that.

And while you don’t want to plaster a phony smile on your face throughout the entire interview, you do want to seem personable. To help you remember to smile, hang an amusing picture or even a mirror (out of camera range, of course) to remind you to keep your upbeat face on at all times.

3) Dress appropriately

Why dress up totally? Why not just dress nicely from the waist up and be comfortable in your bunny slippers and pajama bottoms?

Because anything can happen and if there is some type of computer glitch where you need to stand and adjust something you’ll be busted; that’s why!

The best way to dress is the way you would on a face to face interview. However, avoid patterned clothing (stripes or checkered, for example) since the pattern tends to flutter on camera. The same holds true for any busy print.

Stick to a neutral color (avoid stark white) and add a touch of color with an accessory. A tie or a scarf works well.

4) Avoid interruptions

Let everyone know who lives with you that you will be doing the interview, so they can disappear. And no matter how much you love it when Fido or Garfield hang around you when you’re on the computer, make sure your pets are no where to be found. No one thinks your pets are as cute as you do and it screams unprofessionalism to have a cat on your lap during an interview.

5) First Impressions

Before you even say hello, your interviewer has made a quick assessment of you. How? By your Skype username and photo. Make sure both are appropriate. No cute user names like tequilalover2015. The best bet is to use your name. If it’s already taken, use a handle which has your profession on it, such as robertsmith_accountant.

6) Use a cheat sheet

Remember the amusing poster or mirror you hung up to keep you smiling? Right next to it (at eye level) keep a cheat sheet; questions you want to ask or skills you’d like to highlight. Here’s the catch though. Fit all of the information you want on nothing bigger than on a large post it note or index card and place it right below the camera. That way you don’t need to avert your eyes like a ping pong ball every few seconds. Your eyes will never leave the screen from the interviewers point of view.

7) Practice, practice, practice

Do a trial run with a friend a few times, if need be, before you actually have the interview. Ask your friend to be ruthless in his/her critiquing. Are you smiling enough/too much? Do you appear focused and engaged. Are you wearing the right clothes and more importantly, is the lighting good. Practicing with someone gives you time to work out the kinks beforehand, so that when the actual interview takes place, you’re not worrying about the minutia.

8) Follow up

This is one that many people seem to forget after a Skype interview. But it’s important to follow up with a thank you letter after any interview. Don’t let this one piece of etiquette mess you up.

Remember practice makes perfect.