Ultimate guide to ace Skype interview

What is a Skype interview?

Instead of a telephone interview, companies are increasingly using video telephony. Skype is the app most commonly used for job interviews. Visual contact can be an advantage for applicants, but it can also be a disadvantage. It depends on how you prepare for it and how you ultimately present yourself in conversation. Read our ultimate guide to ace a Skype job interview.

Good reasons for an online interview

A Skype interview often precedes the classic interview in the personnel selection process. It saves the applicant travel time and the company travel expenses. A company often arranges a telephone or Skype call to find out whether an applicant should be considered in the further selection process. Another reason may be that a candidate cannot appear for a personal job interview at the company for organisational or scheduling reasons, e.g. if you are on holiday at the time, studying abroad, have a broken leg or need to take care of your children.

In a typical online interview, the interviewer is keen to find out whether the candidate is not only technically suitable for the job but also has the necessary motivation and fits the type and personality of the team and the company. The applicant can also name their ideas and ask their own questions. Only when both sides are satisfied with the outcome of the online interview does it make sense to consider the candidate in the selection process further.

How to prepare for a Skype interview?

A Skype interview is usually structured in a similar way to a conventional job interview. Firstly, the manager makes introductions and names the process and the goal of the interview. As an applicant, you should, in any case, be prepared to provide a brief presentation of yourself.

In addition, you should take a detailed look at the job advertisement, the job and the company. It is essential to be aware of what the advertised position is about and what you can expect from a role in the company to be able to answer the questions of the personnel manager adequately. In the interview, you should be able to show interest in the job. Do some research about the company beforehand or maybe even with future colleagues about likely discussion points such as the working environment.

In terms of content, it is advisable to prepare for a Skype interview as well as a telephone interview or a classic interview.

There are also some unique features in a Skype interview. In an online interview, for example, you don't have to wait for a surprise call. The appointment is usually made in advance by email or phone. Even if the Skype interview usually only lasts about 30 minutes, you should plan at least an hour.

Personal presentation is vital. When it comes to the application documents, one of the managers' first looks is the candidate's application photo. Even experienced recruiters are not immune to being influenced when they make a judgment about the applicant. It is not just a question of whether someone looks attractive or personable, but how applicants present themselves. In particular, in jobs with managerial tasks or with positions with external impact, appearance is an important feature when evaluating a candidate for the first time. You have to be aware of this during a Skype interview.

Tips for a Skype interview

Although personnel managers always say that they want authentic applicants, they prefer professionalism to authenticity. It is, therefore, important not only to make a pleasant and competent impression but also to approach the interview professionally. Here are tips for the preparation and implementation of the Skype interview:

1. Quality: how good is the internet connection?
Make sure the connection quality is good. To do this, close all apps that are irrelevant to the Skype conversation. In addition, you should not download anything during the conversation. It would be best if no one else is currently using the home network so that you can make full use of the bandwidth. Make sure that you are not disturbed and that your surroundings are calm. Check that the technology (internet connection, image, sound) works properly by doing a test run with a friend.

Speaking of the background; it should look neat, neither sterile nor messy. You shouldn't necessarily be able to see the bed, laundry basket, or movie poster. Plants and a bookshelf achieve a significantly better effect. Select a suitable location, such as your desk. It must be a quiet place where the roommate, the partner or the cat do not run through the picture in the background.

2. Check lighting conditions
Optimal lighting is important so that you do not get the impression that you would rather hide. Too dark lighting conditions make it more difficult for the recruiter to get an idea of you. Excessively bright light also has an unpleasant effect on the viewer. Avoid direct light from the front and choose a side light source instead. Natural light works best. It is therefore advisable to position the PC and webcam in a bright room with windows and daylight. Incidentally, the window or the lamp should also not be directly behind you. This way, shadows on the face can be avoided.

Keep a distance of about one metre from the camera. If you slide too close towards the camera, it looks disadvantageous.

During the interview, you can also see yourself on the screen in the corner. Take a look every now and then to see if you have a good posture but don't keep staring at yourself. If necessary, turn off the small picture if you find it too distracting.

Switch off your mobile phone and eliminate other possible noise as much as possible. It's also a good idea to shit the window if you can expect noise from outside (road traffic, playground, etc.).

3. Dress appropriately
The outfit can vary according to job, position and company, but with a plain, long-sleeved shirt or blouse and plain trousers, you are almost always on the safe side. Male applicants are well received in a suit or at least in a shirt and jeans look. This shows that you value your appearance despite a Skype conversation.

It's also a good idea to think about the right hairstyle and be generally well-groomed. Also, keep in mind that you have fewer options to convince the employer via Skype, so your clothes are an opportunity to stage yourself.

4. Pay attention to your body language
The interviewer will be able to observe gestures, facial expressions and posture during a Skype interview. Have a good body tension instead of lounging in the desk chair. Don't forget to smile.

5. Don't be shy!
A Skype conversation tends to suit shy people because even if you have switched on the webcam, you are still in your usual environment and can feel more secure than in a strange conference room or office. This security may help you to feel a little more comfortable. Use the opportunity to try to make a lasting positive impression.

6. Speak clearly
This saying may be justified in many areas of life. However, it is out of place during the interview. Pay attention to a clear pronunciation and speak slowly and understandably. Your message should not be misunderstood and should reach the conversation partner as it is meant to be. The worse the internet connection, the more important this point is.

7. Show interest
If you hadn't been interested in this job, you probably wouldn't have applied for it. Now you have to make it clear to the HR that you are seriously interested in the post. Show that you don't just want to test your market value, you really want to work for this company.

8. Motivation: Why are you applying?
The HR specialist is primarily interested in your skills. Besides, you also have to expect to be asked about your motivation for the application. Why do you want to work in this very company? What motivates you? You could also expand on this point even if it doesn't come up.

9. Cheatsheet: Record the most important points
It is beneficial to take a few notes right before the appointment. Write down everything you really want to mention. Record the key points that speak for you. Make a note of a few key data about the company so that you are not entirely without ideas when asked about it. During the conversation, add valuable information such as upcoming appointments, etc. to your cheat sheet.

Final preparation

Do you suffer from stage fright? Then the right preparation is all the more important for you. Learn relaxation techniques, get a herbal sedative for emergencies, and go to bed early enough in the evening before the interview. Just before the conversation, you could clear your head with a walk or some sport. Special breathing exercises may also help you.

Check the webcam
It's best to position the webcam at the top of your screen. Your face should be visible in the image section. Please do not use colour or frame effects. They look a bit unprofessional and are unsuitable for this occasion.

Why should the interviewer pick you?
Why you? Expect to hear the question "Why should we hire you?" Emphasise that you have deliberately chosen the advertised position and why you are interested in it. "Because I am looking for a job" is certainly not the answer the recruiter wants to hear.

Don't use slang
Many high school graduates and younger students often use Skype for private conversations or chats. Even if there is a certain sympathy between you and the HR manager and the job interview is going well, keep a formal tone. Professionalism and distance are part of the remote conversation as well as the classic employment interview.

Goal: What do you want to achieve?
Shortly before the interview begins, make yourself aware of the goal you are pursuing. What do you have to do for it, and what needs to be raised for it? Visualising your own goals and making them aware is one of the most critical steps to success.

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