Q: I’m being interviewed by Skype next week for a job. The position is overseas and I have the skills and experience to do it, but I am worried about the Skype interview because all the other candidates will be interviewed in person. I fear Skype may be impersonal and I am concerned I won’t showcase myself properly. Any tips? (KK, email).
SABINA TRENCH, CAREER COACH, REPLIES: You are right to be concerned – but not just because of the Skype element. Most people prepare poorly for interviews. They leave things to chance and hope it will be ‘alright on the night’.
I’m not sure if that’s your usual approach but the fact that you are doing this interview by Skype, thereby stepping out of the more typical interview format, could well force you to do the preparatory work that will lead to your best interview ever.
Before we get onto Skype, let me emphasise that the usual rules apply: you’ve got to know what they’re looking for and why they are looking for those things (‘thing’s being attributes, experience, competencies, attitude and so on). In the interview you’ve got to give concrete evidence / examples that convince them you have what they’re looking for: and that’s true whether you do the interview by Morse code or spooned together into a space suit.
On Skype you have to work harder to build rapport. Break down barriers by using the interviewer’s name and by talking about the physical location of the interview – this can be done during the pre-interview chit-chat. “You’re three hours ahead of us, so I guess you’re getting to ready to finish up for the day soon” – that kind of thing. An appropriate level of warmth will take some of the distance out of the interview.
Throughout the interview, make a point of engaging with them. Ask them a clarification question. Get them to outline some things about the company. Keep them in the game.
The sensation of speaking to someone who is looking straight back at you, without actually sitting opposite you, can be off-putting. It can appear like talking to a vacuum.
Skype strips away a lot of the non-verbal communication that characterises face-to-face combat, sorry discourse. You’ve got to practice with friends on Skype beforehand, placing special emphasis on engaging fully with the person at the other end – bring yourself to the point where it feels like that they are actually in the same room.
Dress up as if you were going to be in their building. Iron that jacket. Do the full glad rags thing – and, yes, not the news-reader trick of wearing a nice shirt and tie or top over ragged jeans and trainers. They will notice that you’ve made the effort – plus dressing up will put you in the zone.
What will lurk behind you where you sit? A window blocking out the light? A book-shelf with visible concert tickets, Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus, and the cheap, yet priceless, trophy you won in the village sports all those years ago? Make the environment professional: a neutral background, lighting that shows rather than conceals you, and a seat placed close enough to the screen to make you the central feature of the show. And tell your housemates to go for a walk lest they think bursting out of the wardrobe mid-interview would be a great bit of gas entirely.
Sabina Trench is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers and works out of Westport, Co. Mayo. You can read more about her, and make a booking HERE for CV Preparation and Interview Training.
More articles from her blog can be accessed HERE