How to master a Skype interview

Job interviews over Skype are becoming increasingly common. You might be able to see one another, but a virtual interview over the internet is not the same as one face to face and you need to prepare accordingly.

Here are some considerations to help you embrace technology and master a Skype interview.

Dress professionally
Should you still dress as if you are in a face-to-face interview? Yes – general interview etiquette still applies. “The dynamics are different, with body language being the main barrier, so it is vital to make a good impression based on your dress and surroundings,” says Matthew Roberts, CEO at, a network site for employers.

Don’t be tempted just to dress smartly from the waist-up, assuming that’s all the interviewer will see, warns Graham Oates, CEO of Norrie Johnston Recruitment. “I’ve been in plenty of Skype interview situations where the candidate has had to stand up.” Being in formal dress will also help you to feel like it is a formal interview and put you in the right frame of mind, he adds.

Pick your backdrop wisely
How much attention will be paid to where you are sitting for the interview? The safe rule of thumb is to assume that a lot of attention will be given to your surroundings – so set up well in advance and take time to look at how the interviewer will see you.

“Find a neutral, tidy spot if possible. Mess, pot plants or food may subconsciously impact an interviewer’s view of the meeting and reflect badly on you,” says Jonathan Bennet, a director at Capita Resourcing. His advice is to set yourself up so the interviewer can see your face, hair, shoulders and upper torso. Consider the lighting and how you are sat too. “They don’t want a giant, poorly lit face talking at them for an hour.” Also, make sure you are in a quiet room which will not be interrupted.

Get to grips with the technology beforehand
Before you begin, make sure you’ve got to grips with the technology to avoid any last minute panic, especially if you haven’t used Skype before. “Set up a practice interview with a friend to make sure you are happy with how you come across on screen as well as being able to confidently use the system,” suggests Roberts. Check your microphone is properly set, your voice is audible, the picture quality is good and that you are in a spot with a strong internet connection.

But if technology fails midway through, don’t panic, says David Cairncross, director at Hays. “If a problem with your technology throws you off during your interview, just remain professional,” he says. The interviewer will be aware that some things are out of your control, should anything happen start the call again to regain a connection, and quickly make contact to update the interviewer so you can continue as soon as possible.

Don’t be late
“You wouldn’t dream of turning up late for a face-to-face interview, so having to delay one over Skype because you haven’t done your technical groundwork is inexcusable,” says Oates. Call and get it all setup a few minutes early to avoid any awkwardness. Equally, have your notes ready and a glass of water to hand so you aren’t fiddling with papers or getting a dry mouth once you make a start.

Remember body language
Skype interviews leave little room for those informal interactions you might have on the walk from reception or the ride in the lift – so it is important your eye contact and facial expressions are not compromised by the technology either.

“Remember to look at the camera – not the screen – that way the interviewer will feel you are maintaining eye contact,” says Oates. “Remember to smile and have an engaged and pleasant facial expression. Try to forget you are talking to a computer screen and imagine the interviewer being physically in the room with you.”

By Kirstie Brewer

Published: 16 Mar 2016



How to ace your second interview

You’ve got through the first job interview and have been invited back for another. You’re well in the frame for the role and now is the time for confidence – but not complacency or arrogance.

“You have to assume that every remaining candidate ticks all the required boxes and things are close,” says Jon Gregory, career coach and editor of The second round of interviews will be different to the first. Your interviewer(s) will aim to address any question marks that arose as a result of your first interview. Because as Gregory points out, if there weren’t any concerns, you’d likely already have the job.

“They’ll target your weakest areas to see whether or not they would reduce your ability to do an effective job,” he adds. “Be honest with yourself about where you struggled in your first interview and then prepare thoroughly in anticipation of that likely probing.”

The second interview shows that the selectors really liked you and decided to give you a chance to land that job but it also requires you to prepare so much more than for the previous round, adds Dasha Amron. The founder and managing director of Career Coaching Ventures explains: “This time, it is more likely to be competency-based questions that will be asked of you. I also often encounter various short tests and essays during the second round.”

So what will the interviewer ultimately be looking for in a second interview? In short, they want you to solve their recruitment problem. The good news is, if you’ve made it to the second round they’ve been impressed by what they’ve seen so far. “They’ll be looking for you to confirm their judgment and show them how you’re most definitely the one they want,” says Gregory.

The people on the other side of the desk will be hoping you can show full commitment to winning the job, genuine insight into the challenges and real enthusiasm to attack the role, should you get it.

Here are three top tips for succeeding in a second interview:

Use your first interview intel
Think carefully about what you learned about the organisation and its people from the first interview. Do your research again and use intelligence gained for that first interview to inform it. “The interviewer will feel comforted if they see you’ve learned from your previous meeting and have already stepped up your game,” says Gregory.

As part of your research, you should also try to establish who is going to be on the interviewing panel during the second round and find out as much about these people as possible, adds Amron. Follow them on Twitter, study their LinkedIn profiles, and read their articles and blogs if they publish. “In other words, make sure you understand their career history and their viewpoints,” she explains.

Reinforce the positives
Define the challenges that the successful candidate will face and plan to show how you could take up the reins and make real progress, says Gregory. Build on the previous examples of what makes you the best candidate and try to hit home the positives.

If you’ve made it this far it is likely you managed to connect with the interviewer on a human level before, this is your chance to establish a rapport that will leave them really feeling you could be part of the team. “Be enthusiastic, likeable and smile,” says Amron. “Nothing can impress more than a nice smile and a positive attitude.”

Articulate your edge and prepare questions 
Identify what added-value you might bring, especially in comparison to the likely profile of other applicants. “This is hard,” admits Gregory, “but dig deep as it can be a real deal-swinger for you if things are close.”

Be careful not to let this stray into unconstructive territory. Remember that all candidates have different strengths and weaknesses, so try not to obsess or worry too much about comparing yourself to others. “Instead, concentrate on showing the best of yourself and how you’re the very best choice,” Gregory says.

Finally, don’t neglect to prepare thoughtful and original questions to ask at the end of the interview, Amron points out. “Notable events within the company would require a question on your behalf,” she explains. This will really demonstrate you are imagining working at the company.

“Make sure you think about the financial performance of the company you are applying to and can tailor the questions accordingly,” she adds. Has there been a recent restructure? It would probably make sense to ask something about this as well.

Hopefully this article will set your second interview on the track to success, but why not find out how to structure your answers to interview questions using the STAR technique?

By Kirstie BrewerPublished: 09 Mar 2016