“Can you hear me? I can see you but I can’t hear you….wait….OK….no….now I can’t see you, either.”Does this sound familiar? The fact is, Skype
interviews probably require more preparation than a face-to-face conversation with a hiring manager – the dynamic is entirely different. As the interviewee, an online interview gives you a few advantages but several unique disadvantages. For instance, one good point is that you can keep some notes in front of you, out of sight of the camera. That’s great, right?Well, the bad news is you’re talking to your computer – or a tiny, robotic-eye sitting next to your computer. And some people (like me) don’t perform well in front of a camera.
Good and bad aside, there are a few keys that all but guarantee you'll make a positive impression. Some are obvious because they’re the types of things you ought to do in a face-to-face interview - these are listed anyway (you’d be appalled to know some of the horror stories I've seen and heard).
Here they are, in no particular order:
- Be on time for the interview.
If the interviewer is late, be patient. Send an instant message if it goes past 15 minutes – maybe an earlier interview ran over.
- Make sure the surroundings behind you are tidy and find a quiet place.
If you have roommates or live together with family, remind them of your interview time so you aren’t interrupted.
- Test your equipment the day before and the day of the interview.
There’s nothing more frustrating than having technical problems during an online interview. If problems arise and persist, explain politely what is happening and ask to redial.
- Dress for the job.
If the job is for an ESL teacher
, business casual would be best. Men should get rid of the 5 o’clock shadow – shave before the interview. Oh, and if you’re thinking of pulling a “Ron Burgundy” and not wearing any trousers – think again. You never know when you might have to suddenly get up to check your internet connection or webcam.
This is a no-brainer if you’re interviewing in person, but being personable and smiling are more difficult when you’re in a room alone. Test your appearance on camera before the interview to check for posture, gestures, facial expressions, etc. Try a practice run with a friend or family member and ask for honest feedback.
- Don't ramble.
Try and keep your answers at about a minute to ninety seconds if possible - unless the question really merits a longer explanation. Your replies should be informative, but concise.
- Use the interviewer's name early and often.
It can help develop a connection between the two of you even though you’re not in the same room.
- Tell the interviewer in advance that you will be taking notes.
This is a good thing to mention in the beginning of the interview after the initial formalities are out of the way. You can politely begin, ”I apologize in advance if there are a few pauses here and there, I’ll be jotting down some notes during the interview.” This will ease the awkward feeling when no one is speaking. Plus taking notes will give you a few ideas to come back to when you have questions at the end
- Cheat like crazy.
Keep notes about the company handy for easy reference. Being able to glance quickly at information about the position, company or questions for the end of the interview can work in your favor. That said, keep the notes short – if you’re shuffling through dozens of pages off camera it’ll definitely tip-off your interviewer that something’s amiss.
- Be yourself.
You have a lot to offer to the company – it’ll be more likely to come through during the interview if you’re relaxed!
Put your best foot forward
As with any interview, preparation is the key. Make sure you do a bit of research on the company beforehand - study the company Mission and Vision, learn about the job requirements and prepare a few questions to ask at the end.
With this advice in hand, you're sure to nail the interview and be well on your way to securing the job of your choice!
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