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Stick to these 10 golden rules for job interviews on Skype

By Your World Healthcare’s Greg Wood

It’s not the latest app and it is pretty fail safe.  Skype is fourteen years old and 74 million people use it worldwide. And recruiters do too. Thanks to modern technology, candidates are now able to find work all over the country and attend interviews without leaving the comfort of their own home. A recent survey from Right Management shows that nearly 20 percent of candidates have experienced a web-cam based interview in the past year. The survey also showed that 82 percent of hiring managers have used Skype in particular, with a further six percent using pre-recorded platforms. 

More employers are choosing to use Skype for meeting candidates and therefore, as with any rising method of communication, certain standards for Skype interviews are becoming apparent.  With this in mind, it’s time to polish our skills when it comes to interviewing online. Skyping with family and friends might be simple and comfortable, but employers may be looking out for things you would never even think about…

1.    Bolster your broadband

The UK is still working on countrywide superfast broadband. Many outlying areas have notoriously slow speeds with parts of the country experiencing average speeds of 1-5 megabits. Not technical? All you need to know is that for Skype video to work well, you need a minimum of 2 megabits per second. The national average should be between 12 and 24 megabits per second, which would provide a smooth conversation via video chat. If your broadband speed is unreliable, try setting up your interview somewhere with a better connection – perhaps a friend or relative’s home. 

A poor connection will frustrate your interviewer and potentially damage your chance of employment so make sure to plan ahead if you know your broadband could fail you. 

Remember that joining a Skype group with multiple employers/recruiters could slow you down so pre-plan your broadband bandwidth allowance before starting and ensure you have a solid connection by testing Skype with friends/family before your interview. 

If you’d like to check the speed of your line, you can use Speediest.

2.    Say my name

Think about your Skype username; what does it say about you? Pet names such as ‘baby, ‘dolly’ or ‘sweetie’, although harmless to your friends and family, may give a negative impression of you to potential employers. Always keep a professional account, ideally using your own name, for anything of this nature, separating your personal and professional life and representing you as a stronger candidate for the role. Remember, you can always adjust your privacy settings if you have concerns about your full name showing on Skype.

3.    Blank out the noise

It’s impossible to guarantee a noise-free interview but there is plenty you can do to reduce the levels of noise around you. If you have children in your environment, ensure they are being watched by someone during your interview and explain to them the importance of being quiet for a little while. Ask anyone within your environment to be considerate and turn down any TVs or music and avoid shouting whilst you’re being interviewed. It can never hurt to remind everyone that you have an important Skype call before it commences.

4.    Keep your phone at bay

Technology may be a huge benefit to our society but it certainly has its drawbacks, including that it can be extremely distracting. No employer wants to see you constantly glancing down at your phone to check messages or be thrown off topic by someone calling you mid-interview. Most phones have an automatic ‘vibrate’ feature, even when put on silent, so switch your phone off entirely to be on the safe side. 

5.  Test for best

Did you know that varying webcams will show your surroundings differently? Some may show more of what’s around you than others, so it’s crucial to double check how much of your environment can be seen before starting your interview. You may not realise that an interviewer can see your tracksuit bottoms on below your smart shirt or the cereal bowl stashed away in the corner of the room. This is where a test call with a friend can come in handy – they’ll be able to tell you what’s visible. Ensure your environment is clean and you look presentable regardless and you won’t have to worry! 

6.    Dress the part

If in doubt, dress smart rather than casual. Guys, no one expects you to wear a tie in your own home but a smart, clean shirt will never let you down. Ladies, avoid colours that are too bright and stick to neutral, smart outfits. Once you’ve secured your job and established boundaries for what to wear, you can let your personal sense of style shine. Make sure your hair (and facial hair) is neat and clean, applying the same level of grooming and hygiene that you would to a face-to-face interview – you can skip the perfume though (technology is not that advanced yet).

7.    The 10minute check-in

Contact your interviewer via Skype messenger ten minutes prior to your video call. This shows that you are ready to start at the agreed time and gives the impression that you are punctual and organised. Your message can be simple and to the point, for example:

‘Hi John, I look forward to our chat in 10 minutes. Let me know if there are any problems.’

Checking in 10 minutes beforehand will also flag any technical issues and allows time for them to be corrected before the interview. 

8.    Backup at the ready

Have at least one alternative source of Skype where possible, allowing you to switch sources should your chosen method of Skyping fail. You could use another computer, a tablet or smart phone as backup but ensure they have the Skype application installed beforehand. You can also have a backup internet connection by allowing your computer to pair with the Bluetooth feature on your mobile phone. 

9.    Light my fire

Be conscious of what the lighting in your environment is like. Ideally, you will set up somewhere that gives your interviewer full visibility of you and your surroundings. You want them to focus on your conversation and not be distracted by their inability to see your face because of shadows/sunlight.

10. Connect

After your interview, it’s worth asking your contact to connect on professional networks such as LinkedIn (if you’re not already connected). This may help them to keep you in mind for any future roles if this isn’t the one for you and your interview is not successful. They also may remember you in future if you pop up in their Linked In streams.  Remember, a ‘no’ in life often means, ‘not right now.'

Greg Wood, group commercial director,  Your World Healthcare – the UK’s largest supplier of allied healthcare workers to NHS and private healthcare