Skyping for Jobs: 5 Steps to Mastering the Virtual Interview

Posted by Patrick Hicks, BPI group on Sep 22, 2017 10:41:02 AM

In Job Search, Outplacement, Career Management

Increasingly, more employers are using webcam technology to interview potential candidates. Large companies can use this process to quickly screen a high volume of applicants, and remote companies can conduct more in-depth interviews without having to fly a prospective candidate to their location. Services like Skype, FaceTime, and Zoom are now commonly used as part of the interview process, and in some cases, you may even be asked to record responses to pre-recorded questions. This process can be a bit disorienting for applicants used to traditional in-person interviewing. To ensure success, you’ll want to find ways to make yourself more comfortable conducting an interview via webcam. Here are some tips for getting the hang of virtual interviewing:

1. Test Your Technology Ahead of Time

You don’t want to learn that you have a slow or faulty internet connection in the middle of an interview. If possible, try to use a wired connection, or at least a wireless connection that is reliable. Websites such as www.speedtest.net allow you to test the speed and consistency of your connection ahead of time. Make sure your webcam and audio connections work, and that they’re both clear.

InterviewStream is a great resource for practicing virtual interviewing, and includes introductory steps that will test your connection speed, webcam video, and audio levels. (All BPI group outplacement candidates have access to InterviewStream via BPI group’s SearchPoint career portal.) If you’re using a built-in microphone, make sure you’re sitting close enough to your computer for your voice to register. If it’s still too quiet, consider using a headset or external microphone.

2. Consider Your Surroundings

The person interviewing you won’t just see you, they’ll be able to see whatever is directly behind you. Position yourself in front of a blank wall, or at least a space that’s free of clutter. Make sure you’re not in an environment where anyone is likely to pass through or distract you. An ideal space would be a desktop or office environment, where the webcam will be level with your face, so you won’t have to look up or down to address the camera. Try to avoid spaces with poor acoustics, like a noticeable echo or other loud background noise that might make you harder to hear.

3. Be Aware of Non-Verbal Communication

Body language is just as important in a video interview as in an in-person interview--and can be even trickier to convey virtually. Try to maintain an upright posture, consistent eye contact, a friendly demeanor, and to project confidence. Maintaining eye contact is a bit different than it would be face-to-face – some people find it helpful to place a marker like a piece of tape or a Post-it directly above the webcam, to give a visual reference point to focus on when addressing the camera. You’ll want your enthusiasm to come through not just in the content of your responses, but also in how you visually convey that information.

4. Dress as You Would for an In-Person Interview

Even though you’re not in the same room as the interviewer, you’ll want to project the same level of professionalism as you would in a traditional interview. This doesn’t always occur to job seekers when they’re conducting an interview or brief screening from home, but it’s important to project confidence and respect to the person on the other end of the interview at every stage.

5. Practice

This is the most important step to becoming more comfortable and familiar with the virtual interviewing process. Try asking a friend, family member, or your career coach to work with you on a practice session, which can be a useful way to not only work out the practical details, but get constructive feedback in real-time.

For those who prefer to practice on their own first, services such as InterviewStream allow you to construct a practice interview complete with pre-recorded interview questions. You can then record your responses to those questions, and review the recordings. You can also complete a self-assessment, add time-stamped comments for responses you’d like to revisit, and count any instances of filler words such as “um.” You may also share the videos with others to get their feedback.

While virtual interviewing can add a layer of complexity to the job search process, practicing these five steps will help you overcome many of the common pitfalls to put your best foot forward.