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How to nail a Skype interview

A step-by-step guide to getting the most out of the dreaded Skype interview...

Being asked to take a job interview over Skype is inevitably going to fill even the most confident of man with dread. Do you turn on the camera? Can you get away with wearing your pyjamas underneath your shirt and tie? Have you removed every dodgy object out of the camera’s view? And how do you show off your charm and knowledge via a screen?

However, with the Covid-19 pandemic sending many into self-isolation, remote interviews could become the new normal for many employers and recruiters so it pays to now how to make a good digital impression.

The prospect of Skype might be daunting, but it shouldn’t be. Believe it or not, it’s actually a lot better to take a Skype interview than a phone one as visual impressions can often be far greater than auditory ones. So first and foremost you need to use the camera to your advantage – and let the rest fall into place. Here are some pointers to get you started…

Sort out your username

Most big firms will have their own video calling system but, if you’re interviewing with a smaller company doing things the old-fashioned way, you might want to rethink the Skype account you set up when you were 13. Cringe-worthy usernames are simply not okay. Potential employers don’t want to see the ‘fun’ side to you (at least not yet anyway), they want out-and-out professionalism – which CheekyChaz1990 definitely is not. So, just as you wouldn’t put your nickname on your CV, keep your Skype username straight-forward and simple.

Get out of the digital mindset

There’s definitely something relaxing about sitting in the comfort of your own home while you take an interview, but that’s where many people go wrong. Get into the same headspace as you would were you meeting in your potential employer’s office – a little touch of nerves can be useful so try and get outside of your comfort zone as much as possible. The first five minutes are by far the most important, and your greeting is everything.

Think about your surroundings…

Ideally, you want to stay at work late and use the boardroom. This might be crossing a boundary or two, but you need to make sure your setting is as clean-cut and professional as possible. Failing that, try your utmost to make your home look as inoffensive as you can.

If you have a home office, great, nothing says professional like a row of neatly filled bookcases. If not, turn your laptop camera on the night before your interview and look behind you. Check that your bed, your pile of laundry and your Star Wars poster aren’t in view. Also make sure you’ve forewarned all pets/humans in your home that you’re taking an important call and need to be uninterrupted. If you need more convincing just give ‘Robert Kelly BBC interview’ a quick Google.

...and your outfit

While in theory, you should have everything you need right in front of you, you never know what’s going to happen and what could unexpectedly go wrong, so it’s important to dress well from head-to-toe. No pyjamas, no tracksuits. Wear a suit, wear shoes. Not only will this impress potential employers, but it will also help you get in the right mindset for the interview.

Establish boundaries early on

Unless they’ve specified this will be a video call, never start the interview with the camera on. Keep it off, and after the niceties are out of the way, politely ask if they would like the camera on. This will avoid an awkward beginning in which you’re left talking to a blank screen and shows you to be considerate and courteous.

Get the technical side in order

As simple as it sounds, this crucial element is essential to get right. Check that your computer is charged, your sound is working and your WiFi hasn’t crashed out. You take these things for granted everyday so they’re easy to forget but important to get right.

This is equally important if your interviewee has asked you to use a video calling system you’re not familiar with. Log on early and make sure you understand the process. Just as you would leave enough time to get to an office for a face-to-face interview, make sure you’re giving yourself ample time to prepare for a Skype one.

Keep your eyes on the prize

One of the most common mistakes people make when talking over Skype is to look at themselves on the screen, rather than into the camera and to the people they are talking to. On Skype, that means you’re going to be looking at the bottom right hand corner, which looks creepy apart from anything else. Maintain eye contact at all times, and stop checking yourself out.

Now you’ve got your foot in the door, here’s what to wear for a job interview in banking…

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