Five Tips to a Great Skype Interview

Jolene Pilgrim
17 Aug 2017

Modern advancements in communication technologies have certainly come a long way.  Landlines are nearly a thing of the past, cell phones can also look up dinner recipes and the last time we saw a pager it was on display under glass in a History of Tech museum.

With these innovations, it only makes sense that companies would take advantage of high-tech upgrades to reach interviewees further afield, opening up the prospective candidate market to far off locations to find just the right pick for their job opening.  Conducting interviews via Skype, or similar video messaging technologies, is becoming increasingly mainstream for first and even subsequent round interviews.

Companies big and small are utilizing these systems, meaning that candidates who know how to perform well on camera will have a significant leg up on those who are downloading the app for the first time five minutes before the interview.  If you’re a newcomer to internet video for interviews, no need to worry.  We have the five tips you need to come out of your next Skype interview looking and sounding like a pro.

1.      Set the Stage

Unless you have a home office set-up ready to go, choosing the location that will serve as the backdrop to your Skype interview can be a bit tricky.  In order to appear professional, you should try to avoid common domestic areas of your home such as kitchens or bedrooms.  If you do have an office or spare room, inspect your walls and art carefully for anything that may set the wrong tone or impression.  While we may all appreciate that cutting edge poster of your favorite grunge rock band from the ‘90’s, it might not be the right setting to make a good first impression with your potential new employer.

2.      Illuminate Your Best Qualities

The purpose of conducting a video interview instead of a traditional phone call is to allow the candidate and interviewer to communicate more clearly.  Given this, its probably a good idea to make sure the lighting in your chosen interview spot is good enough to let you be seen.  Overly bright lighting can make you appear washed out or nervous.  Dark lighting can obscure the interviewer’s image of you.  Experiment with lamps off camera and bring in external sources if needed in order to ensure the prospective employer gets to view you in the best light possible.

3.      Dress for Success or “Yes You Do Have to Put on Pants”

While conducting an interview online over video messaging programs may seem like a cutting-edge approach, this is no reason to drop the typical interview formalities when it comes to attire.  You should wear the same clothes that you would wear as if you were sitting in the same room as your interviewer; typically, a conservative suit, jacket or button up.  This creates a non-distracting palette and shows that you respect the interview process, regardless of whether it’s in person or remote.

4.      Look Here, No, There

This next topic is a tricky subject, even for those with a great deal of experience in the internet video messaging game.  We all know that making eye contact is an important quality when meeting someone in person.  While it can be harder when communicating on line, interviewees should still strive to converse head on.  Experiment with different camera views ahead of time.  Most video messaging services have preview panes that allow you to see what the other person is seeing, a great tool for finding that perfect angle.  When in doubt, face forward to the screen is always a good approach and most laptop’s internal cameras are set up for this to be the ideal angle to see and be seen.

5.      Practice Makes Perfect

Our final tip when it comes to nailing that Skype interview harkens back to everything from childhood dance recitals to college exams.  Practice, and plenty of it, makes you more prepared and likely to excel.  Test out your technology ahead of time to make sure you’re comfortable with the messaging platform and that it runs smoothly on your machine.  Skype with your friends or family (grandma will most likely be thrilled to volunteer for this endeavor).  Try out your outfit, lighting, background and camera positioning ahead of time to ensure you’re making the best impression possible on the big day.  Add in a little traditional interview prep and potential employer research, and you’ll have everything you need in your interviewing arsenal to convert that online interview into a callback or job offer.


Jolene Pilgrim