Artwork by: Aleksandra Zabnina
Have a Skype interview coming up? Don’t stress–we’ve got you covered with these top tips on acing it!
Skype has been a leading platform for digital video calling for years. With a rise in virtual interviews, it shouldn’t be a surprise for the company you are pursuing to ask to conduct an interview over Skype.
Use the following tips to ensure your success during your next Skype interview.
In this article, we’ll discuss:
How to best prepare your space for a Skype interview
How to set Skype up for both members and guests
Pointers on how to conduct yourself during a Skype interview
Possibly the most important item on this list is to download Skype. You’ve got to make sure that your setup is ready for the interview well in advance. Save yourself some stress–don’t wait until the day of the interview to do this!
Skype also offers the ability to sign into a meeting as a guest. The interviewer will send you a link to the meeting, once you click this you will be prompted through a registration. This can take a few moments though, and you wouldn’t want to be going through the process while the interviewer is waiting on the other end for you. Because of this, it’s recommended to just download the program ahead of time. You can always delete it after the interview finishes.
An easy way to display your professionalism is to do everything in your power to avoid technical mishaps during your interview. Interviews typically have a set time limit to them, so you don’t want to waste any time fumbling around with audio.
One of the cool things about Skype is its virtual assistant, Echo. Deploying Echo will help you with your audio testing. To do so, open Skype and open the contacts tab. You’ll see a contact called “Echo/Test Sound Service”. Choose this option. You’ll be prompted to record a sample of you speaking. Afterward, Echo will send the recording back to you, allowing you to get a true sample of how the interviewer will hear.
As far as microphones go, as long as you are using a computer made within the last decade, you will almost certainly have a built-in microphone, so no need to rush around shopping for one.
Even though you will be conducting the interview from your home, you still need to put effort into creating a professional environment.
Check your house for an area that has a blank or neutral wall, where nothing moves or makes sounds. Be extra cautious of removing any artwork, posters, or other decorations that have unprofessional graphics or wording on them.
You’ll also want to be aware of sound from your house. If you have a family, ask them for privacy during the duration of your interview. If you have a noisy pet, try asking a friend to take care of them for an hour. Microphones can pick up background noises surprisingly well and they can be very distracting. Do your best to eliminate them.
Don’t forget to put your phone on silent before your interview!
Skype interviews can make it harder to create a personal connection than an in-person interview because you are each only seeing a small square of each other.
Enhance that square by making sure you are facing the light. This will allow the interviewer to see you clearly, and also have a more personable interaction.
To ensure you are well-lit, you want the light to be hitting your face from the front. When light is emitted from behind you, it creates a silhouette effect. Your figure becomes blacked out.
If you have a space in your house with a window, set your computer up in front of the window so that when you sit down the natural light illuminates you. If you don’t have a window in a professional space in your house, take some time to gather up a few lamps and again, set them up so that you will be looking towards them during the interview.
Just like you would during an in-person interview, you need to dress up a bit for your Skype interview.
You might have seen people poking fun at virtual interviews and the ability to only dress professionally from the waist up since that’s all that's captured on screen. But you’d be surprised by how many people are accidentally caught pajama-bottomed because they stand up for some reason during the interview. Play it safe, and make sure your whole outfit is professional.
One of the most important nuances of Skype interviews is to know how to engage appropriately.
In an in-person interview, we might show engagement by saying “Okay”, “Yeah”, or “Mhmm”. However, the nature of Skype is that when one person makes a sound, it cuts off the other person's microphone. To avoid glitching like this, take turns speaking.
If you know you have a tendency to engage audibly during a conversation, take some time before the interview to practice nodding your head and smiling to show agreement.
To make further efforts in making sure you appear your best, try sitting away from the camera a bit. You want to avoid a close-up of just your face. Aim to have the screen show from roughly your mid-chest to a few inches above your head.
You’ll also want to make the angle of your camera flattering. To do so, adjust your screen so it’s either looking straight at you or looking slightly down on you from above.
While it’s advised to use a computer, some situations require using a phone for your interview. In this case, use a tripod and follow the same steps to make sure their view of you is ideal.
If you’re not paying full attention during an interview, it shows. Remember, Skype interviews mean that your face is the focal point of the interviewer’s screen. If your eyes are darting around looking at your environment, they’ll be able to see it pretty clearly.
When you are setting up your space, take care to turn off any electronics besides your computer. If you’re able to avoid it, refrain from conducting your interview in a public space or a place that’s easily accessible to friends and family. Take it a step further by minimizing any web pages that might lead to distractions.
Skype interviews require more effort to prepare for because of having to set up your own space and make sure you have all the technical elements sorted out. But don’t let this take away from all the other preparations that you’d put into an in-person interview.
Take time to research the company that you’re interviewing with. Look up the position title so you have an idea of what duties will be required, and come with questions prepared. Come with your start date and desired compensation ready. Skype interviews don’t make an exception for the general preparedness that’s expected of you still.
One of the benefits of a Skype interview is the ability to record it and look back afterward to review how it went.
Once you’re in the meeting on Skype, click the “More Options” button. From there you’ll see a button called “Start Recording”. Press this and you’re all set.
An alternative option is to record the interview from your phone, but be sure that this won’t create a distraction for you.
Like any interview, you can typically expect a Skype interview to last 30-60 minutes. There isn’t always a hard cut off though, so don’t wind down the conversation prematurely. Allow the interviewer to ask all of their questions for you, and when they’re finished, it’s always recommended to ask a handful of your own.
Interviews once maintained a fairly linear progression, like a formal Q and A. However today’s workforce takes a different approach. Interviews feel a lot like a conversation, so feel free to get comfortable, be honest with your reflections, and see where things go.
There are a couple of steps to this answer.
First, you should have all of your setup ready for your interview at least 20 minutes early. That means your professional space is ready, your computer is in place and charging, and you have already installed and configured the Skype program.
By 15 minutes before the scheduled interview, you should have your person ready. That means having your professional outfit on, eating a snack, and having a water cup ready for the interview.
You should be sitting at your computer at least 5 minutes before the start time. You can log into the meeting but not actually enter it, or if you can see there's a virtual waiting room, and can enter it and wait there. During this time, review your notes and questions, double-check that your lighting is good and your phone is silenced. If you haven’t already, at one minute ‘til, you can join the meeting.
Yes, you can wear headphones during your Skype interview and it will not reflect poorly on you. In fact, it will make you look prepared and tech-savvy to have them because that usually indicates that you have already tested your audio and have determined that your built-in microphone isn’t as effective as headphones with a mic would be.
As an added precaution, it could be good to keep a pair of headphones nearby anyways. You never know what can happen when dealing with the virtual world. Any extra steps you can take to set yourself up for success are a bonus.
Generally speaking, no you should not need to pay to access an interview ever, and fortunately, Skype agrees.
If you already have a free Skype account, when you launch your interview, Skype will open automatically and that’s all there is to it.
If you don’t have an existing Skype account, you might need to first register as a guest. You will see a prompt to do so, go ahead and follow that registration path. You won't be charged for it, but there will be a 24-hour time limit for your use.
You still need to prepare yourself for a Skype interview the same way you would prepare for an in-person interview.
Skype is well set up for guest users, offering features to test your audio and free limited use for non-members.
Use these tips to optimize how your interviewer sees you.
Emma is a certified employment specialist with over six years of experience in career mentorship and employment training. Emma is passionate about nurturing professional growth and helping people gain momentum in their field. She uses her writing and strategic career planning skills to help her clients fulfill their aspirations and reach new chapters in their professions. In 2020, she helped design Colorado’s first state-certified training program for people with disabilities entering the workforce.