With remote interviews becoming more common in today’s workforce, the question of how to make a great impression from a distance becomes more and more important to answer. Remote interviews can be equally as hard – or even harder- to prepare for than regular ones, but there’s a lot you can do to take your digital interviewing skills to the next level and score the professional equivalent of an Emmy for your performance (there is a lot of filming, directing and acting in this role)!
Below we’ve listed some top tips to help you cover every aspect of your Skype interview preparation, from setting the right background to making sure your body language sends the right message on that small screen.
Look the part online
Your Skype username and profile picture will be your employer’s first impression of you. As attached as you may be to your creative username, DarkOverlord99 may not be the best way to introduce yourself, especially if you want to avoid misjudgment and awkward questions when starting off the interview! Choose a professional picture and username and make sure to add your interviewers to your contact list.
Look the part from head to toe (and not just head to waist)
Experts estimate that 90% of the cues we give off are non-verbal (link to post related to non-verbal cues, to be written), so looking the part becomes even more important when you are not physically present during an interview. You can look for cues related to the company you’re interviewing for by checking out their website, Facebook page and Twitter feed and seeing how employees and executives dress. Given that your bottom half will probably be hidden under a desk, it’s perfectly natural to flirt with the temptation of wearing your favorite sweatpants, but here’s why you shouldn’t: 1) in case you have to stand up for some reason, like adjusting your equipment or bringing in some documents 2) to help your mind switch to professional mode. Color-wise, go for colors that translate well on screen - shades of blue like royal, navy and sky blue look great on video, while others like red and magenta can be too bright.
Declutter your surroundings and set the scene
Choose a quiet room and inform anyone else at home about your meeting - you don’t want any background noise or unwanted extras stealing the show! Set your device, prepare your chair and move personal items away from the screen view—no need to share too much information- leaving behind you a blank or neutral background to give a more business-like atmosphere to your space. A cluttered background may distract your audience or even send the wrong idea of your organizational skills. Finally, organize your desktop and add some good lighting to the room to avoid looking washed out.
Check your tech
The first thing you want to make sure is that you have an adequate broadband connection. If possible, try to avoid using your mobile phone to conduct the video interview as desktops and laptop computers generally have better audio and camera capabilities. If you cannot avoid using your phone make sure to place it on a solid, steady surface - do not go handheld! In case you are using a desktop or laptop, make sure that your webcam and microphone work and close all other programs on your computer to avoid notifications popping up during the interview.
Handle tech glitches gracefully
Dropped calls are understandable and things can go wrong from both your and your interviewer’s side. In case your Skype freezes up or any other technical malfunction appears, remain calm and ask to hang up and return the call – it’s perfectly OK and it will show that you have the skills to handle a difficult situation without losing your mind! You can also do a test-run 24 hours before the interview to fix any issues (updates etc.) that might arise.
Do a practice interview
There’s a lot of tasks to tackle while doing a video interview: where to look, what to do with your hands, how loudly to speak. Recording a practice interview alone or with a friend can help you work on those tasks ahead of time, as it will give you the chance to see yourself on tape and perfect the end result.
Master the digital handshake
Just like in-person interviews, the first five seconds of your digital interview are critical for creating a good first impression. While you cannot physically greet your interviewer, you can use a number of simple digital gestures to show that you’re happy to be there and ready to get down to business: do a slow, firm nod while saying hello and slightly bend your shoulders forward; after that, focus on keeping your eyes on the camera throughout the interview, to create the impression that you’re looking straight at your interviewer and not at the video on your screen.
Staying engaged through body language and nonverbal cues is more difficult to achieve during a video interview. Sitting alone in a room without having real interaction with a person can freeze up your movements, so you need to remind yourself to keep a pleasant, smiling expression throughout the interview and use some hand gestures. This might not come to you as naturally and reflexively as it would at an in-person interview, so before the interview you can loosen up by calling a friend that makes you laugh, smile in front of a mirror or even hang a post-it note on your desktop to remind yourself to stay upbeat
It’s OK to cheat
One of the main advantages of a video interview is that you don’t have to remember everything you want to mention. Write notes about the company and questions that you want to ask your interviewer, print out your resume and place them within your view range to easily access information at a quick glance. That said, make sure you familiarize yourself with the material before the interview, so that it doesn’t look like you’re reading from a script!
Follow these simple tips and you’ll be more than ready to knock your next Skype interview out of the park. Good luck!