Tom O'Neil: Five keys to a great Skype interview

By Tom O'Neil

Dress to suit the interview.
Dress to suit the interview.

For a long while now, Skype has become the "go to" interviewing resource for employers, recruiters and HR practitioners, helping them to initially screen candidates prior to organising a face-to-face meeting, as well as bridging the interview gap for candidates too far away to meet at short notice.

Sadly, many candidates treat a Skype meeting as something a bit short of a "real" interview. Here are five key ways to ensure you make the most of your next Skype meeting:

Meeting Goal

Try to find out the role this Skype interview plays in the recruiting process. If it's just a five-minute exploratory meeting, keep your answers short and keep on message.

If it's a full blown one-hour interview, you have the freedom to answer questions in more detail and provide further information as required.

Your Background

Think about the environment and background the Skype interview will take place in. If it's in your home, ensure the background matches the professional impression you are trying to give.

Things like washing bundles, piles of toys, dirty dishes and unmade beds very rarely suggest you are the person the employer is seeking.

Ideally a home office or bookshelf as a backdrop looks great. Also a wall with a discreet picture or two on it is also fine.

Your Dress

Just because the interview is taking place via Skype doesn't mean you can wear whatever you want.

It's still a "real" interview in many ways, so dress as you would if you were going to meet the employer at their place of business.

If that means you dress up professionally for a 10-minute Skype call, so be it.

Perception equals reality, so the more you are perceived to be a quality employee, the more real this fact becomes for the prospective employer.

Fluffy Distractions

Does that precocious feline or very loud family bird want to be part of the show? If your cat is running all over the bookshelf, tipping out books behind you, it becomes both a distraction to you and the interviewer.

I have fallen victim to this too. I was once interrupted by one of our chickens crowing during an interview with the Economist newspaper in the UK. Not ideal when you are attempting to portray an aura of professionalism and confidence...

Not looking at the interviewer

Skype is strange in that many people tend to look at their own video feed, rather than the interviewer. Also remember to look in the actual laptop lens that is recording you, not just at the screen. This gives the impression that you are looking the interviewer in the eye, rather than staring at their chest!

Keep these tips in mind, and you will be sure to stand out at your next Skype interview, getting you that step closer to your dream role.

Tom O'Neil is an award-winning business speaker and best-selling international author. You can contact Tom on tom@tomoneil.com

- NZ Herald

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