04 Jan Assess your Skype-style
The first direct contact you will have with your potential employer will most likely be remote – you will not be in the same room as your interviewer. Usually this will be done via Skype and usually, the employer will expect it to be a video-conference, not just audio. So, while you won’t be sitting across a real desk from the person interviewing you, you should approach the appointment just as you would a physical meeting. We call this your “Skype-style”.
Basic requirements for a good first impression
What exactly this means is obvious to some candidates and less obvious to others. If the three priority points below are obvious to you, then you’re in good shape. If they are not obvious to you, please take some time to consider why they are important not only from your perspective as someone who wants the role but also from the employer’s point of view. Understanding why your interviewer will expect you to take a certain approach to your interview is a basic requirement if you are to make a good first impression.
The three most important factors in good Skype-style are:
- Prepare your interview space
- Make eye-contact throughout
- Speak clearly and relax
Prepare your interview space
Long before you start your Skype call, make sure you are familiar with where you will be making the call from. If this is a place that you are used to making video calls from, then only a few minor checks may be required. If you are using a laptop or a smartphone to call from an unfamiliar location however, you need to consider how you can ensure that your call proceeds smoothly and without disruption. Here is a handy checklist you need to take into account:
- Noise levels: the quieter the better but if you cannot eliminate all background noise, at least try to ensure that there will be no loud noises that will interrupt your conversation.
- Background: take a look on-screen and then look behind you. Is there a distracting picture or sign in the background? Can you move it or cover it? Plain backgrounds will help ensure that the interviewer’s focus remains on you throughout the call.
- Technology: Especially if you are using equipment that you are unfamiliar with or if you do not regularly use Skype, make sure it is working. And then make sure again. It is strongly recommended that you make several test calls with friends or family to make sure everything is working as it should.
- Power: At the very least, make sure you charge your battery well in advance. As a precaution, make sure you have a charger available during your call and ensure you know where the power socket is and that it is within reach of your charger cable.
Make eye-contact throughout
Especially because you are not in the same room, it is important to make sure you keep eye contact with your interviewer. This can be easier said than done. Your call may last anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes and you must stay focused on your interviewer throughout. Not being able to read your interviewer’s body language can make this challenging but you simply have to persevere.
Related to the points above regarding your interview space, it will help you to stay focused if you remove any distractions from where you will be making the call. Do not allow yourself to become distracted. There is little worse than an interviewee who is paying attention to something off-screen that the interviewer cannot see.
Speak clearly and relax
The most important thing to bear in mind when it comes to expressing yourself clearly during your video-conference is to slow down. You may be nervous or excited, you may be speaking in a second language, and you may be trying to squeeze a lot of information into a small amount of time. Believe it or not, the best thing to address all of these pitfalls is to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n. During your interview, clearly articulating a few strong points is usually preferable to making many points less well.
People find various activities relaxing. For some this means breathing exercises, or it can be listening to a favourite piece of music or taking a short walk around the neighbourhood. Whatever your preferred means of relaxation, take some time before your call starts so that you can be as relaxed as possible.