Nowadays, you can expect that some of your interviews for a job won’t be face-to-face, but screen-to-screen.
A growing number of companies are conducting interviews online. Once upon a time, employers would bring out-of-town candidates to their offices – but that practice has gone the way of cheap gas and big expense budgets.
Now, to save money and time, a lot of hiring managers are Skyping first –even when the candidate is around the corner.
Many job hunters believe it’s that much easier to interview from the comfort of their home. It’s true you don’t have to worry about being late to your meeting, but on the other hand, you don’t have the benefit of a firm hand-shake and a friendly chat together as you walk to the elevator.
A Skype interview is a whole different ballgame. To wow someone via webcam takes preparation.
As experienced recruiters with The Bagg Group, we know what hiring managers at the best companies in and around the GTA want, need and expect from candidates. Our insight is why we’re so successful in placing people in full-time, contract and temporary work, month after month.
Of course, skill, experience and attitude matter most. But when a hiring manager is faced with a lot of great candidates, we see every day how it’s the little things that can get a candidate on or off a short list.
When doing an interview via Skype, little things matter, a lot.
Here are The Bagg Group’s top 12 must-do tips to help you make the right impression in front of the camera.
1. Dress as you would for a face-to-face: Check out the company’s website and Facebook page to get an idea of how staff and executives dress, and do as they as do. Be careful about just throwing on a jacket and wearing sweats. If you have to stand up to adjust a cable or a light, the interviewer may see your entire outfit.
2. Dress up your space: The first impression of you includes an impression of what’s around you. Be aware of what the interviewer will see on your shelves and on the wall. Create the right environment by moving in plants or placing books and magazines on shelves. Try to make your background look like a workplace.
3. Think like a photographer: You may have to warm up the lighting by adding lamps. It’s worth it. If you’re Skyping against a white wall, lit only by harsh overhead light, make sure you don’t have unflattering shadows on your face that make you look tired and haggard. As well, be sure your face is not hidden in darkness or that you don’t have a halo light effect around your head. Take pictures of yourself with your webcam before the interview to see how you look.
4. Eliminate background noise: If you were meeting face-to-face, you wouldn’t bring your dog, your kids, or a TV into the interview room. Whatever isn’t appropriate in person, isn’t appropriate on Skype.
5. Check your connection: If your connection is weak, find a better wifi spot before your interview. Dropped calls and freezing are understandable, but these distract from the interview and reflect poorly on your ability to plan ahead. Make sure your audio is at the right level before the interview.
6. Close all other programs: It’s annoying to have pings and beeps interrupt the conversation. As well, it’s too tempting to check your alerts. Don’t think interviewers won’t notice, they will – and it’ll hurt your chances of getting hired. People can always tell when you’re not 100% present.
7. Look at the camera, not the screen. Looking at the web camera is the only way to maintain direct eye contact with your interviewer. It’s not easy as we’re all tempted to look straight at the screen. Some people find it helps to put a picture of a family member or friend right under or above the camera lens to keep them looking at the right spot and to maintain a friendly expression.
8. Practice, practice, practice. Set up as many test Skype interviews with friends to get used to interviewing online and looking at the camera. Ask friends to tell you what they see in the background, how your face is lit, how your posture is, how the audio levels sound, etc.
9. Have cheat notes: One of the great advantages of an online interview is that you can use cheat notes. Have your key points in large print, taped on the wall behind your computer or at your side, so you can see them easily at a super quick glance.
10. Keep your Skype profile professional. The first thing your interviewer will see isn’t you – it’s your profile. You don’t want your username and picture to send out the wrong signal, and hurt your image. You can always create a professional Skype account –after all, they’re free.
11. Engage your interviewer: If you’re just a talking head who goes on and on, your viewer will get bored – even more so than in a face-to-face. When the interviewer gets restless, it’s easy for them to put you on a split screen and start reading their mail. Be sure to check in with them often, ask questions, and keep your answers relevant and to the point.
12. Follow-up with a thank you — off Skype. Although the interviewer is now on your list of contacts, they don’t want to get messages or calls from all the candidates they’ve interviewed – unless they’ve requested it. Having someone on your list of contacts doesn’t make them your friend. Send a thank-you note to their email address, as you would if you had interviewed in person.