Conducting interviews via Skype offers employers all the advantages of a telephone interview in terms of cost-effectiveness with the bonus of being able to see the candidate. While they are still not as widely used as telephone interviews, they are particularly helpful for international recruitment when interviewing the candidate in another country – e.g. for TEFL teachers. Universities often use them when interviewing candidates for postgraduate study and research.
As the candidate, you are likely to find that face-to-face contact with the interviewer helps to make the interview a slightly less unnatural experience. The disadvantage is that you will have to dress as smartly as you would for a real-life interview (at least from the waist up!) and it won’t be quite as easy to refer to your notes or application form during the interview.
- A Skype interview will be more like a real-life interview than a telephone interview, but the following points are worth keeping in mind:
- When preparing for the interview, choose your location carefully.
- Use a private room (not a study area) and put a “Do Not Disturb – Interview in Progress” sign on the door.
- Sitting at a desk or table, rather than in an armchair or on the bed, will help you feel more professional as you will be sitting up straight.
- Make sure that the interviewer is not going to be distracted by anything in the background – posters, lava lamps, bookshelves, piles of laundry, etc. Make sure that there is good lighting.
- If you live on the ground floor it may be a good idea to pull down the blinds to avoid any of your so-called friends pulling faces through the window, but make sure that the lighting is bright enough for the interviewer to see you clearly.
- Ask a friend to Skype you before the interview to check that everything is working, that the background is clear and that any notes or crib sheets are out of view of the camera.
- Turn off any other programs running on your computer – you don’t want to be distracted by an email suddenly popping up while you are speaking.
- Dress smartly as you would for a normal interview. You can however wear your pyjama bottoms if these are out of view of the camera!
- Look at the camera so it looks like you are talking directly to the employer and smile!
- Speak clearly into the microphone. Avoid speaking at the same time as other people as this can make it difficult to hear what is being said on Skype, so you must to allow people to finish speaking to avoid missing information.
- Consider turning off your own picture in the top right corner as this can be distracting.
- Make sure that you have a phone number and/or email for your interviewer, so that you can contact them in the case of any technical problems.
The use of recorded video interviews is increasing. These started with technology companies, but have now spread to mainstream employers. These differ from Skype interviews in that all candidates are usually asked the same questions which can be tailored to the specific job the employer is recruiting for. Recruiters have the opportunity to replay, review, and rate the interviews online, so they can compare candidates without having to remember who said what.
In a recent survey of employers in the US
9.4% currently accepted video CVs
7.1% planned to accept video CVs in the future
28.2% wished to research the implications of video CVs before accepting them
55.3% did not accept video CVs and probably would not in the future.
A structure used by one company is as follows
- Arrangements for an interview are scheduled at a company office or via the applicant’s laptop or tablet.
- A tutorial will provide instructions on the webcam and the interview.
- The applicant will have 30 seconds to read the question and two minutes to respond.
How to get prepare. Many of the tips for Skype interviews above also apply
- Ask for help (available online or by phone) if you don’t know how the webcam works or if you have questions.
- Follow the directions carefully
- Dress just like you would for a face to face interview.
- Practice – record yourself to see how you appear on camera.
- Be aware of your surroundings and the lighting.
- Look at the camera, not down at the desk or table.
- A video interview is a “real” interview, just like when you interview in an office. Given that the interview can be scored and reviewed, it can be even more important than a typical first round phone interview
Skype Video Interview Tips
- Shut yourself away in a quiet place. Have a glass of water by the phone.
- Be positive and articulate. Initial presentation is vital: you phoning them means first impressions really count. It’s actually good fun though, provided you’re prepared. (graduate sales interview)
- Supply good examples. Talk slowly! (Smith and Williamson Accountants)
- Relax, speak confidently (Accenture)
- Interviewer was very nice and didn’t mind if you took a few minutes to think. Their call centre is very noisy so you have to speak quite loud for them to hear you properly (HP)
- The structure of the interview was explained well and the interviewer seemed friendly. (Logica)
- If you do your research and follow the advice on the careers website you should have no problems with the telephone interview. I was notified of passing the interview after five days. When first contacted to arrange time for interview, the HR person made a point of stating that no knowledge would be needed of SAS for the telephone interview. I ignored this and read their website, their Wikipedia page and any other information that Google produced. Unsurprisingly, the first question asked was about my knowledge of SAS! After about five minutes the interviewer moved on to other questions, so always do your research on the company. The rest of the interview questions were the standard; tell me a time when… style of question, although one I was not expecting was “tell me about a time when you had to persuade someone to change their mind and how did you achieve this? (SAS)
- Read your application and give strong examples. They seemed friendly: treat it as a chat and relax as they are quite people-focused and pride themselves on their open approach. (Grant Thornton Accountants)
- Calm down and be prepared. Think of examples when you demonstrated the competencies that they are looking for. (Mercer Investment Consulting)
- Prior to the telephone interview there were online numerical and verbal tests. Take your time. Keep your answers to a reasonable length. Each competency question was covering a key area. Make sure you read through your application answers beforehand.
- When on the phone, make sure you have a copy of your application form in front of you – and notes! (Cable & Wireless)
- Prior to the telephone interview there was verbal tests. Make sure you read through your application answers beforehand. Interview is entirely on soft skills. No need to worry about time limit , you’ll even be asked if you wish to add to an earlier statement. (Orange)
- Prepare for interviews by researching the company (including recent press releases) and re-reading your original application. Personality test took about 10 minutes. Questions were describing a situation and asking which course of action you would take (multiple choice answers) (Barratt Homes)
- Just be yourself, try to relax and don’t panic when they fire the questions at you. The questions seem to be based on your application and your knowledge of BT. They are checking if you fit in with their business. Asked a lot of questions, and they kept asking similar questions again to check you were telling the truth. They appeared to be checking what you had written on your application form and CV, and were trying to ensure it was true. This was certainly a verbal reasoning test and a test to see if you could think on the spot. It was hard not to repeat yourself. (BT)
- It was a telephone based interview consists of a role play and competency questions. Just prepare answers for all the common questions and you should ace the interview. The telephone interview can be tricky and the interviewer will be difficult during the role, so just stay calm and think practically. (Centrica)