A New Way to Master the Job Interview: Skype

skypejobinterviewWant that job in New York but don’t have the money to get there? Worried about being too impersonal via phone? Although many people may think of Skype, a free way to call and web cam (with other Skype users), as a way to communicate with friends and family, it can also come in handy for those interviewing for jobs and internships.

A recent article by Time noted “How Skype is Changing the Job Interview.” And this fact is very true. Although some companies will pay for the transportation and accommodations of its job candidates, in this economy it’s not always a guarantee. Also, as a college student I don’t have the cash or free time to fly to Boston, and I feel that phone interviews are not the greatest way to showcase my personality or enthusiasm.

Personally, I love Skype. But, there are some things that we must keep in mind when preparing for a job interview and being interviewed via Skype:

Dress for success:
Just because you’re interviewing in your bedroom doesn’t mean that you should sport your pajamas–dress appropriate. That means avoiding clunky jewelry that will make excessive noise and also appearing fresh but not ready for a night on the town by being appropriate when applying makeup. For men: although you may loathe putting on a suit or donning a tie, at least you can take it off immediately afterwards. Also, with careful and strategic camera angling, you can avoid slacks and dress shoes altogether (just don’t stand up and be wearing boxers–please). Don’t forget to smile and actually look at the camera when responding (this is your “eye contact”).

Eliminate noise:
You don’t want your “SexyBack” ringtone, courtesy of JT ruining the moment. And you also don’t want your barking dog (or a neighbor’s Labrador) stealing the spotlight. So plan accordingly. If you have roommates, ask for silence. Noisy neighbors? Try to have the interview take place when the apartment next to you isn’t sounding like there’s a party, or when the lady who lives above you is done blending her week’s worth of breakfast.

Keep it clean:
Having an interview via Skype puts not only you on the spot, but the area that you’re interviewing in as well. So clean up your room or choose a clean, private and quiet space. Not only is a messy background distracting, it also shows a future employer a lack of organization. So keep it clean, keep it classy, and keep the eyes on you, not that “Baywatch” poster in the back. A strong Internet connection is also key.

Be prepared:
Skype may seem like an informal way to be interviewed, but it’s not–you still need to be prepared. So practice with a friend (especially if you’re new to Skype) and make sure you speak loud and clear. Have proper lighting and set the scene for success. Now is not only a time to impress potential employers with your well-crafted answers, but to woo them with your camera skills as well. Last reminder: beware of time zones!

Now for some questions: Do you think Skype will become the long-distance interviewing norm? Have you ever had a job/internship interview via Skype? These notions both scare and excite me. Although I’m eager to become more technologically advanced, I can’t help but worry that I’ll break Skype etiquette. Do you have similar concerns, or any tips?

Image courtesy of: http://www.360jobinterview.com/.Job_Category/Engineering

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20 responses to “A New Way to Master the Job Interview: Skype

  1. Interviewing via Skype is an interesting idea. Considering the economy and, as poor college students, what little money we have to zoom around the country interviewing for jobs and intern positions, this might not be a bad alternative. Interacting by video is certainly different than physically meeting with a person—but facial expressions and body language can still be seen, which allows for a more personal form of interaction.

    These situation from the Time article makes me cringe, though:

    “Bobby Fitzgerald, a restaurateur who has been interviewing job candidates by Skype since March, has had his share of amusements. For instance: the candidate who leaned forward while he spoke, giving Fitzgerald an intimate view of his nose. Another, a college senior, didn’t bother cleaning up his dorm room before the interview; the mess was painfully visible in the background. And then there was the dog that wouldn’t stop barking. Fitzgerald cut the interview short and said he’d have to reschedule.”

    Three words: location, location, location.

  2. This almost seems more difficult (at least I think to me it would be) than a personal interview. In my experience, anytime technology is involved in something important, it fails.

    I could see it as being a major improvement over a phone interview, but I think I’d still prefer to meet my future employer face to face if at all possible.

    • I agree. Although you won’t have to drive to find a place or even have to leave the comfort of your own home for an interview, I still believe that in-person interviews reign supreme.

  3. For a Drake Magazine article, I actually used Skype in a research-oriented interview. It was so exciting to talk to someone across the ocean in England while I was sitting in my own room.

    One conversation I had with a researcher ended up lasting more than two hours, because we found so much to talk about on the topic. It was amazing to make that connection.

    However, the intimacy of a person seeing where you live offers them a glimpse into more of your life than even a face-to-face interview provides. I think I would be more nervous to Skype with an interviewer than go to their office, but its convenience and nonexistent price tag make Skpe a perfect option for people that can’t interview in person.

    Personally, I would rather do a Skype interview than phone, but I hope I can stick to interviews in person as much as possible.

    • Wow, I didn’t even think of the potential Skype had when conducting interviews for research. That is a great idea! Sometimes phone interviews can be so terrible. I feel like they are always kind of quick and formal. It seems like they usually follow a question and answer format. Interviewing someone on Skype for a story could be a great way to get what you can’t one the phone. You can get the facial expressions and reactions, as well as simple physical stuff that you can’t get if you aren’t doing the interview face-to-face.

      • Exactly.

        Sometimes technology moves a bit too fast for me, but moments like these make me really appreciate it.

  4. This seems to be an interesting way to go about doing the interview. I can see the positives as in it doesn’t cost a thing to Skype back and forth, and it’s a free download.

    The biggest problem I see (besides the previous mentioned above) is a bit of technological issues. I have Skype, but I can’t use it because the microphone on my laptop is horrible and can’t pick up my voice (or makes it sound very robotic). I’m unfortunately too cheap to go out and buy a microphone, but I have a feeling I’m going to go buy one sooner rather than later.

    But if at all, let’s stick to this order in preference of interviews: personal, Skype, phone.

    • I definitely agree with you here that Internet can be sketchy and that spending extra money isn’t what I want to do. However, I believe that a good microphone would be well worth the investment. I like your order of preference for interview style as well. 🙂

  5. This sounds like a very interesting idea. Last spring, when I was abroad, I interviewed with a summer camp via Skype (although it was just a phone call, and didn’t use video). For me, technological issues got in the way (on the first call I made, they couldn’t hear me and I had to call them back–and even on the second call their voice would cut out, and there would be an awkward pause in between the question and my answer) and it was so much of a disaster that I didn’t end up getting the job.

    Having said this, until Skype becomes a common way to contact people (perhaps if they start charging too much for phone bills), I’d like to stick with in-person or over the phone interviews, just because I know I can trust the technology. There’s just so many things that can go wrong with a Skype interview.

    • Dang, that sounds like a nightmare. I think that when it comes to Skype interviews, it’s important to have a strong Internet connection and to test out how your Skype is working beforehand with a friend. If it’s impossible to find a good connection, or your first call gets dropped with an employer, I’d suggest calling them on the phone or saying something like “Hey, this isn’t really working as planned, could we switch to a phone line?” This will show the employer that you’re able to work your way past problems and let them see you put your best foot forward!

  6. I’ve actually heard of people doing this before, and a lot of them really liked it. I think it definitely has some advantages.

    In addition to the flexibility and the green you’d save from flying to a far-away interview, there’s always the comfort of being in a familiar environment. Of course, you can’t actually shake the interviewer’s hand or get a feel for what the place is like, but it still opens up a lot of possibilities. There’s always the possibility of technical difficulties, but I still think this is waaaay better than a phone interview.

    This is something that should’ve been brought up in J40. I don’t think a lot of people know this is an option.

    • I think this would be a great thing for J40 students to learn. So, since you can’t make the traditional entrance and shake your interviewees’ hands, what do you think a proper equivalent for a Skype interview would be? Can you think of any awkwardness to be avoided when using Skype?

  7. I agree with everyone’s comments so far. Skyping definitely makes interviews more personal. A lot of employers just want to make sure their potential employee is normal–to say the least. So by saving all the time and money it would cost to fly all the way out to NYC or Boston, Skype makes it happen for free. Skype isn’t the highest quality–the picture, sound and connection service could be improved, but hey, it’s better than nothing. I think employers should take advantage of the unlimited possibilities that Skype has.

    From a journalism aspect, If a company were to ask a potential intern what their Skype account name was and they were to respond–“What’s Skype?,” then that could be an easy way to weed down the heard.

  8. But what happens if you’re asked to do a Skype interview and your computer doesn’t have a camera or built-in microphone? How do you tell a potential employer that you’re not technologically up-to-date? Do you think they’d be accommodating and try to find alternatives, or just breeze on to another application?

    • I would say that if you’re asked to do a Skype interview and don’t have the tools that you need to either a) go out and buy them or b) politely ask if a phone interview would work. If they’re interested in you, they won’t say no, but I would buy the tools – you’ll use them again anyway. However, if the interview is for someone who is up-to-date on social media etc., then not wanting to/knowing how to/having the tools for Skype could give you some marks against you.

  9. Ann Schnoebelen

    But what about all that time I spent in business classes practicing my handshake?!

    I think in terms of job interviews, Skype can be a great tool. Especially as someone traveling abroad next semester, I plan on having to use it in order to interview for jobs and internships this summer.
    As an employer, I’ll admit that it wouldn’t be my first choice. As most people have said, in person is always best. But there are so many situations where I know Skype has been and will be a godsend.

  10. This is all so incredibly fascinating! Thanks for the post. I’d always heard of Skype, but never really knew what all it was about until I saw this blog. This seems so strange to me, but really intriguing at the same time.

  11. I think Skype is useful, but an interview via webcam sounds a bit sketch. Skype was created for friends to keep in touch with friends, and personally, I’d prefer if employers and future employees kept it that way. On the other hand, if circumstances demanded a long distance interview, I’d want to see my potential employer instead of talking on a phone. I’m glad you introduced this topic; it sounds like most people aren’t Skype-savvy.

  12. I actually have a SKYPE interview in about 2 hours. Hopefully all goes well.

  13. I had a skype interview not too long ago and I had put my phone away so it wouldn’t disrupt anything. Waiting for them to skype me, I had a feeling to check my phone. They had called me to do a phone interview instead of a skype interview because their skype wasn’t working. Thank god I checked my phone when I did! Its always a good idea to keep your phone by you but on silent just in case their skype isn’t working and they have to do a phone interview.

    Also consider the time changes ahead of time. The skype/phone interview maybe at 3pm their time so plan ahead and consider the time change before the interview.

    Im going to school 3hrs away from home and I applied to a job near home and im an hr ahead. It just hit me the day of the interview that I was ahead of time because of being so busy at school It didn’t even cross my mind that I was an hour ahead! Needless to say I had an extra hour to prepare!

    Good luck!!! 🙂

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