If you’re a freelancer working internationally, you’ve probably had your fair share of Skype interviews. And if you’re just starting out, you have some learning ahead of you. Skype interviews aren’t necessarily that much different than regular ones, but the devil is in the details.
There are small things that can make the difference between a horrible interview and getting hired after a Skype interview. You need to learn what they are and how to avoid them.
Keep reading to learn how to do a Skype interview that will land you the job!
Tip: Don’t miss out on our do’s and don’ts in freelancer job interviews
1) Solid internet and a plan B
The number one thing that can ruin Skype interviews and really frustrate both sides is a bad internet connection. The video stutters, people have to repeat themselves and aren’t sure that their interview partner actually hears what they say most of the time. If you’ve been in that situation, you know that after ten minutes you just want to shut down the computer and run away.
To avoid that, test your internet connection beforehand. You can do a speed test online or just make sure it’s a network that you’ve used at that same time of day and know it to be reliable.
Secondly, if you can put a backup in place, do it. Maybe you have unlimited data on your phone and can use that as a hotspot or the place in which you’re interviewing has two different networks. Just make sure you’ve tested it beforehand and can get the new connection running in a matter of seconds.
2) Decent hardware
As a person who talks via Skype regularly and has gone through their fair share of headsets, I can assure you that the hardware you’re using will make a difference in sound quality.
I’m not saying you have to spend a couple of hundred bucks for a setup like a sound recording studio, but make sure people can hear and see you easily.
Headsets with microphones will make sure you don’t have to lean into your laptop. And a decent, relatively-inexpensive USB-connected camera can be quite the upgrade for most laptops.
It might sound irrelevant, but if the person who is on the other side of the computer can hear you and see you clearly, it stands as a sign of your professionalism.
3) Background during the interview
Now that you’ve established a decent call with the help of the first two steps, it’s time to get to the actual interview.
What does the other side see through their camera?
They see you, sure, but what else?
Do they see a messy room with posters of your favorite band when you were a teenager?
That might not be the best background.
It’s similar to the idea that you should “dress for the job you want.” Your background should be dressed appropriately for the position for which you are interviewing.
The most important thing is to choose something clean and not distracting as a background. No heavy colors and no movement is ideal. Definitely not a TV screen. Make sure the area around you is quiet, as well.
As a freelancer, you might also be working remotely. If you have a home office or another kind of office space somewhere, do your video interview there. This will show that you are prepared and most importantly, you’re used to working from home.
When seen through a camera, the lighting can change your appearance quite drastically. A dim overhead light will cast long shadows on your face and make you look tired. A bright, natural light shining right at you, on the other hand, helps people see you clearly.
Wait, am I asking you to buy professional photographic equipment? No, just sit in front of a window and make sure it’s bright outside. It sounds like a lot of unnecessary effort, but it can make a big difference, especially when you’re making first impressions.
Extra tip: If you can’t actually do that, spread a few more lights around the room or behind your laptop, pointed at your face. Make sure you test the lighting before you make the real call.
5) Test, test, and test again
The thing you want the least during a Skype interview is a technical hiccup that you don’t know how to fix. You should know how to mute, unmute, show, or hide your video and other basic functions.
The only way to learn that is by mimicking an interview situation.
Skype with that one friend you haven’t heard from a while, but always wanted to keep in touch with. Heck, call your parents. Using the program for a couple of hours and paying extra attention to all details will help you be prepared for the interview.
General Skype Interview Tips
Besides the 5 key tips on how to do a Skype interview that we mentioned above, there are a few general rules that will help you with your video interview as well.
The interview doesn’t need to be always on Skype; the employer might suggest any other tool and all these rules would work exactly the same.
Follow these basic interview tips to make sure you catch the recruiter’s attention:
#1 Install the latest version of Skype
This will ensure that possible bugs are fixed and that the tool is working properly.
#2 Check your Skype profile
Make sure that your profile image is a professional headshot or show your work. E.g. if you are a graphic designer and you have an avatar that you created yourself, you could use that image there. You could also add a link to your portfolio or website directly from there.
#3 Take care of your look
It doesn’t matter that you are doing your interview from home, where you regularly just wear your pajamas. If you are wondering what to wear for a Skype interview, put on the clothes that you will wear to a regular interview.
Of course, it depends on the field of work. If you are a graphic designer, you probably don’t need to wear a suit, but as am SAP consultant, the interviewer might expect that.
#4 Be punctual
As in any other work interview, “be there” on time. You should have checked the network, Skype, lighting, etc. before but we’d recommend you be online 10 or 15 minutes before the interview starts.
#5 Have your portfolio, CV and a glass of water at hand
You’ll not have the option to go pick up anything they want from you, so make sure you have everything at hand.
Having your last projects on the table might help you answer questions that might come to your end regarding your last projects. And the glass of water? Every time you get to an interview, you get offered something to drink. You will be talking a lot and you can’t go to the kitchen to get a glass of water.
#6 Smile and control your body language
Keep in mind that there is someone real on the other side. Sometimes we forget that there is actually someone there because it’s not directly close to us and might make us behave differently.
Don’t forget to smile to have kind of a face-to-face conversation.
#7 Make sure everyone around you knows about the video interview
If you live on your own is fine, but if you live with your parents, have kids, or have a roommate, tell them that you will be doing an interview via Skype and they can’t bother you.
You could consider placing a post-it note on your door, just to make sure no one forgets about it!
#8 Record the interview
This is especially important if you are starting out with online interviews.
It’ll help you identify your own mistakes and strengths. Although there is not a direct option to do this on Skype, there are many programs available to record your Skype calls.
Have follow-up questions or comments? Do you have any other video interview tips that would like to share with us? Let us know in the comment section below!
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