In a few months it will be interview season and everyone is either scrambling to find the perfect summer internship or land their dream job upon graduation. It becomes a bit insane having to balance schoolwork along with searching for, applying to, and especially, interviewing for jobs. The process of selling ourselves to potential employers in order to have successful futures is exciting and terrifying at the same time. It can be nerve-wracking trying to promote the brand you’ve been perfecting over the course of your college career: yourself. How can a hiring manger truly know who you are and your passionate work ethic in the few short moments it takes to conduct an interview? Not only is this stressful, but sometimes we have to partake in this grueling task over Skype. *Gasp*.
Either I’ve added to your weekly stress-meter or given you a whole new thing to freak out over, but the good news is that I’m here to alleviate some of this newfound stress as quickly as I’ve brought it to your attention. I recently took part in my first major Skype interview for an advertising agency internship I’ve had my eye on for several months. Words cannot express how nervous I was for the experience, and after the date was rescheduled by two weeks, I just about worried myself into a frenzy. I probably sought out advice from more than 20 people and prepared for the interview more than I’ve prepared for every final exam I’ve ever taken combined.
In the end, I realized how crazy I’d been and at the end of the day, it’s only a conversation between 2+ people. While I believe the interaction went very well, there were a few technological and other random aspects that I was not expecting and couldn’t have prepared for in advance. Skype takes on a whole new dimension of interviewing. If you’ve never had to participate in a professional video call, here are some things I experienced that may help you feel more confident going into your future job interviews via Skype!
Eye contact is a tricky matter
Nonverbal communication is undeniably one of the most important parts of interviewing for a position. Research has brought to our attention the “7% Rule” in which only 7% of the way we communicate involves verbal exchange. Woah. So that means the other 93% is made up of our gestures, facial expressions, attitude, and eye contact. When it comes to Skype, there’s a pesky little issue that arises in terms of the latter: you have to be looking into the recording device in order to appear engaged. This easily becomes frustrating when you want to observe your employer’s nonverbals on the screen below. My suggestion is finding a happy medium. Speak while looking into the camera and take a few glances at your interviewer during their questions and answers. This way, it still feels like a normal interaction from the perspective of both parties
Be prepared for a bad connection
This is easily the most difficult thing about interviewing over Skype. There’s no telling whether you’ll be able to see and hear your interviewer perfectly, or if there will be no connection whatsoever. My experience was about half-and-half. The picture was pretty pixelated and there were long stretches of time when I could only hear every other word. Just be ready to put on your listening cap and don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat themselves or clarify a question. If all else fails, it’s always possible to reschedule or participate in a conference call, instead. You may be the one seeking a job, but it’s still important that you understand the position you’re applying for, so don’t be left in the dark.
Interviewers love to use probing questions
If you’re anything like me, you’ll have prepared approximately 100 possible questions and answers prior to the big day. It’s extremely important to be ready and feel confident going into an interview. But when it comes down to it, the employer is going to want to see who you really are. As you become comfortable conversing with each other, let your personality take the lead while keeping the content you prepared in mind because interviewers love to ask probing questions. Not everything will be structured. For example, when you’re introducing yourself and mention you love a certain show, they may ask who your favorite character is and why you admire them. These added questions delve deeper into who you are and test your spontaneity.
Don’t let the estimated interview length freak you out
I was initially told my Skype interview would last an hour and a half. Despite the little experience I had with internship selection, it seemed like an unreasonably long amount of time. Would I be able to come up with enough things to say? Would I be able to answer every question thrown at me? Would I lose my voice? Of course, my fears were irrelevant because the conversation went very smoothly and came so naturally that the 45 minutes it ended up taking flew by. So, take everything with a grain of salt because most interviews go faster than the time they allot you. No need for nerves!
Find the perfect Skyping location
While this isn’t necessarily unexpected, it is important to remember the importance of finding a reliable Skyping location. Some criteria that need to be met include somewhere you feel comfortable, has working Wi-Fi, and won’t be interrupted in any way. In my case, I made sure to reserve a room in the library and a backup room in a different building in order to find my inner pre-interview “zen”. My hiring committee actually asked where I was and told me they’d seen some pretty crazy places people chose to be interviewed, which gave me confidence that I showed professionalism by choosing a quiet, closed-off environment.
Know the logistics of initiating the call
Lastly, another word of advice in terms of preparation involves knowing the how-to’s of initiating the interview. I believe in most cases, a company will send a Skype invitation to your personal email and enclose the company’s username, plus the time and date of the interview. Despite feeling confident with this information, I personally faced some difficulty calling the company. Definitely make sure they have accepted your friend request and are signed on when you call…if not, wait it out and if all else fails be sure to have a backup contact to email to solve the issue at hand. You’ve got this!
This blog comes to us from a 2016 Scripps PRSSA Chapter member!