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Top tips for Skype interviews

20/02/2019
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Today, the engineering and technical industries are truly global endeavours. Which of course means that the best candidates have to be willing to locate overseas to secure work. An important part of securing this work will often involve one (or more) Skype interviews. Here are our top tips to make sure that when the time comes, you can nail that Skype interview with ease!
Skype interviews are becoming an increasingly common part of the hiring process for engineers and technical professionals.
Prepare, prepare, prepare!

Just as you would prepare for a traditional interview, the same applies for Skype interviews. However, instead of being in your prospective employer’s office, you’ll more than likely be at home. So, make sure that you have the right lighting and surroundings in place. Be aware of what is on the wall behind you. Tired old posters and an unmade bed won’t exactly leave the best impression.

It’s important to ensure that you’ve got your laptop correctly set up too. One thing to consider is the angle of your camera and screen. Make sure that you’re actually making eye contact with the interviewer. This will help you to develop that all-important human connection when you’re speaking to them. 
Whilst you may be tempted to dress down for Skype interviews, we'd recommend always dressing appropriately for the culture of your prospective employer.
Look the part

You may be in the comfort of your own home but doesn’t mean you should necessarily wear pyjamas or ‘dress-down’ gear for the interview. The general rule of thumb is to dress for the culture of the organisation. If they typically wear business suits and shirts etc, then wear that. If it’s more of a casual organisation, then dress to fit.

Here’s something else to consider- your top half may only be visible to the interviewer, so you may be tempted to only go to half of the effort when you get dressed. But what if you have to get up grab something whilst you’re being interviewed? Aside from that, getting rid of the casual wear and getting properly dressed in business attire will likely help you switch your mind into professional mode.
Wherever possible make sure you have a 'practice run' before any Skype interviews.
Practice it first

If you’re new to the world of video calling and Skype, we’d recommend having a few practice sessions first. Get a friend or relative to conduct a practice interview with you. If possible get them to record it so that you can gain a clearer understanding of how you come across in video format. Speaking on video can be challenge- especially when it comes to knowing what to do with your hands, how loudly to speak and how to deal with possible transmission lags/delays. Keep practicing until you feel comfortable with the process.
Sometimes technical gremlins get the better of us all, so make sure you have a Plan B in place for your Skype interview.
Make sure you’ve got a Plan B

Don’t leave it until 5 minutes before the interview to download and learn how to use Skype!

Download the application well in advance and learn how to use its many features. Know who will be making the call from the employer’s side and ensure that you are signed in early and able to connect with them. Where possible it’s best to use headphones and a microphone to conduct the interview as this will help prevent feedback. Practice with the volume settings to make sure that you can hear properly and not your speech is not overly loud.

Make sure that you’ve also got another way to contact the interviewer should Skype fail. An email address and phone number are essential should Skype refuse to cooperate on the day of the interview. If necessary you can always use a phone for the audio, and Skype for video.

And if you have too many technical issues- simply be honest with the interviewer, suggest a phone call instead or rearrange the Skype interview for another day.
Establishing rapport with interviewers can be particularly challenging over Skype, so remember to smile- it makes a big difference!
Smile!

With the thought of setting up the Skype session correctly, managing your surroundings, looking the part, and angling your laptop camera correctly it can be easy to forget to do one of the most important things… smiling!

When it comes to a remote interview over Skype, establishing that initial human connection and rapport with the interviewer offers more of a challenge than a traditional interview. So, smiling makes a big big difference. Of course, smiling whilst alone in a room is not always the most natural of things so make sure you are feeling upbeat before the interview!
Ensure that interviewers know you are engaged with what they are saying by using active listening techniques.
Use active listening

Make sure that your interviewer knows that you’re listening. It’s more difficult to pick up visual and audio cues over a Skype call so you need to make periodic interjecting listening sounds (“hm,” or “yes”) as your interviewers speak. Otherwise they are potentially speaking to a wall of silence… which is not good. It also reassures the interviewer that the technology is still functioning and that you haven’t been cut off etc.

Whilst we suggest active listening, make sure you don’t actively tinker with your computer during a Skype call. Nothing screams “not listening!” like the sound of a keyboard tapping in the background.
The benefit of a Skype interview is that you can have notes and other supporting materials in front of you without the interviewer knowing!
Use cheat sheets!

The benefit of a Skype interview is that you can have notes in front of you- without your interviewer knowing (so long as they are out of sight). Pull up your CV, company information, talking points or other questions in the corner of the screen. However, make sure that you’re familiar with your material. It’s fairly obvious to most interviewers when someone is reading verbatim from notes.

Once you’ve mastered these Skype skills you’ll be ready to find your next job

And Fircroft can help you do that! We’ve been recruiting engineering and technical professionals for close to half-a-century. Explore our current job vacancies, or register with us now and we’ll send you alerts as soon as our new vacancies become available.
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