As recruiters, we Skype on the daily and we’ve encountered the best of the best and, unfortunately, the worst of the worst. Since everything comes with its learning curves, we thought we’d share our accumulated insights about Skype do’s and don’ts. The overarching theme is simple: act as if the interview is the same as a face-to-face meeting. Would you shave for an in-person interview? Then please, get rid of your 5 o’clock shadow for your Skype interview. Would you wear a button-up shirt with PJ bottoms to an in-person interview? Then please, wear a complete outfit and don’t just dress up your upper half. (Besides, you never know when you need to stand up to go grab something during a Skype interview…). Based on Smart Savvy’s collective years of experience, here are our recruiter’s tips for that upcoming Skype or Facetime interview you have and want to ace.
1. No Narcissism
Just kidding – but really, don’t stare at yourself the whole interview. We know Skype offers that lovely little “picture in picture” screen that shows yourself and severely heightens your sense of self-awareness, but do your best to ignore it. Our Comms/PR guru Marina Guy even suggests covering the screen of yourself with a post-it note so you can instead focus on staring into the camera and at the screen of the other person. Focus on the recruiter and maintain good eye contact, which will also limit other bad habits we’ve seen, such as constantly fixing your hair.
2. Build a Frame
Once a recruiter can see your dirty laundry basket, that is the only thing they’re going to see the entire time. If you think a bedroom with open doors to your wardrobe or a psychedelic painting in the background is a good idea, think again. In the case of a background for Skype, simpler is better. Select a location that has a clean, pleasant background and then build the frame around yourself, our principal Peter Reek suggests. Remove all possible distractions from the location, such as nearby TVs, ringing phones, espresso steamers (if you’re in a coffee shop, as an obvious last resort), and yes, even kids or pets. We believe you that they’re cute, but we still don’t want to see any sticky fingers or cat fur covering the camera.
3. Watch Your Body Language
Again, do what you would do if the interviewer were across the table from you. Even though there’s a screen and much distance between you and the recruiter, lean in to demonstrate enthusiasm and to build a connection, keep your hands on the desk in front of you, and certainly don’t rock your chair. Be engaged and understand just how much weight body language and nonverbal communication have.
4. Channel Your Inner Buzz Lightyear
Invest in a headset and rock it like a boss. Peter Reek, Skyping extraordinaire, says built-in mics and speakers are usually lackluster and the difference between a headset and other mics are night and day. If you don’t want to be leaning over to talk into your mic (think every Oscar awards ever) then take the time to spend a little for a huge return. If gamers do it, why wouldn’t you?
5. Leave the Buffet in the Fridge
Look, we know leftover Chinese food is delicious but please do wait until after a Skype interview to eat it. For starters, chowing down on noodles while explaining your expertise in professionalism doesn’t really go hand in hand. Secondly, I’m really hungry too (heck, I’m a recruiter – when was the last time I had a proper lunch break?) but you don’t see me feasting on lunch or snacking on Doritos during our interview. Be aware of the fact that making a fantastic first impression with a full mouth is very difficult to do. We don’t want to sound like your mother with the old adage “Don’t talk with your mouth full,” but seriously, don’t. The same can be said for chewing gum.