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The Insider's Guide to Skype Interview Preparation

written by: Charles M Bowen•edited by: Ronda Bowen•updated: 10/15/2011

Having a job interview over the Skype is very different from chatting with your uncle who lives in Australia. Having worked on three continents in as many years, I've had my share of Skype interviews and along the way I've put together this short list of ways to ace a Skype interview.

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    What Kind of Jobs Require a Skype Interview?

    skype Traditionally, a telephone interview was just a relatively informal preview to the in-house interview during which the actual decision whether or not to hire would be made. This may still be the case when applying to a job locally, but with job seekers looking ever-further afield, the entire job application process can be done over a web-chatting software such as Skype. Skype is a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) service that in addition to internet telephony allows text chat, video chat, and file-sharing. Consider yourself fortunate if you have never had a Skype account. You have no bad habits to break. If you have friends or family abroad, Skype is a great tool to save money, as you may talk with other Skype users at no charge, and even call phones at a fraction of the typical cost!

    When can you expect a Skype interview? If you are moving to across the country in the US, there is a good chance the whole interview process will be done remotely. Consider it a certainty if you are applying to a job overseas, as Skype allows those employers to bypass criminally high international calling rates. Skilled westerners are in high demand throughout the middle east and Asia, and the competition to get those positions is amazingly fierce. The chance to earn a typical western salary in low-tax countries with very low cost of living is something most people would find very attractive. Ex-pats can live very comfortably while experiencing life in an exotic locale.

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    Hardware and Internet Requirements

    Typically you will have a set time for the interview. Make sure to settle on the timezone, and to remember what the time difference between you and your prospective employer is. You do need to know how to get the most out of Skype. Having worked on three continents in as many years, I have come across a few key do's and don'ts regarding a typical Skype interview.

    You should have reliable broadband internet connection (at least 2 megabytes p/s), and a well-lit, quiet room. Even though most laptops are currently equipped with external microphones, the sound quality off of these is very poor and there is always a certain level of background noise. Make sure to use a headset. If you have a blackberry, the headset it came with works brilliantly with all laptop models.

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    How Not to Be a Clown

    You should have a Skype account (A basic one is free) with a professional sounding name with an equally professional profile pic. A Skype id like ''ladiesman69'' with a cartoon character for a profile pic may have a dubious level of charm in a college dorm, but it's not going to do you any favors in the interview. Use a variation of your name. As for your photo, make sure it is of you in professional attire. I was lucky, I had a recruiter who pointed these things out for me early on. If you're lucky, then you are reading this before having unknowingly made a clown out of yourself on multiple occasions.

    As for the actual interview, its much the same as I would advise for a telephone interview, speak clearly and assertively, and slowly. Too often people try to say as much as possible about themselves in the shortest possible time, with the end result that the recruiter remembers only that you sounded rushed and nervous. It is better to choose 3 or 4 qualities about yourself and repeat them several times so that they sink in, rather than try to convey 20 qualities of which you will be lucky if one sticks in the recruiter's head.

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    Take a Deep Breath. You May be on Live Camera.

    Remember that there is a reasonable chance the interviewer will ask you to turn on the video, so do not think that you can breeze through the interview in your pajamas the way you could over the telephone. You will need to dress up in a professional manner. An often overlooked aspect of videoconferencing is the act of preparing for it. Do a couple of practice runs with the video on and identify a location where you look your best on video (Skype shows your video image under that of the person you're talking to, so there's no need for a second laptop). Make sure that it's not too dark, and never face your webcam with a light-source behind you. You ladies out there may want to apply just enough makeup, (don't overdo it, its job interview, not Friday night at the club) to highlight your natural features and cover up that shine that comes out on video.

    Make sure you are sitting down. You may have heard that speaking while standing makes you sound better over the phone. While you will sound more assertive due to the extra room that standing up provides the diaphragm, remember that this will look ridiculous over a webcam. Pacing back and forth onscreen will not do you any favors.

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    One Last Thing...

    The last thing to be prepared for is if the recruiter requests any documents. Have scanned copies of any diplomas, transcripts, and certifications available. If you are applying for work in a foreign country, they will most certainly require a scanned copy of you and your dependents' passports in order to secure your work visa. In addition to the extra documentation required to get a job overseas, be aware that international employers may ask you things that domestic employers are prohibited from asking by law. Be prepared to discuss your age, family, marital status, even your religion!

    Once you have taken the steps to make your Skype account as professional as possible, and know how to optimize this valuable tool, you will have access to work opportunities on a truly global scale!


  • Photo Credit: Screenshot taken by Author
  • Author's Knowledge.