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What candidates should know about Skype interviews - Christoph Ritze

In an age of mobile networks and face-to-face communication via online resources such as Facetime and Skype, large businesses have developed a taste for incorporating the latter as a means to re-design their hiring process in a leaner, time- and cost-efficient manner. While this eliminates employer’s having to foot the travel costs, the benefits for the candidate are often forgotten. 

Leaving the comfort of one’s home only to be walking into a strange corporate environment, not knowing what to expect, can be daunting. Consequently, an initial interview through the use of Skype can leverage these concerns and let both, the candidate and employer, see eye to eye. This context can produce a more confident interview on behalf of the candidate and can also deliver a more genuine account of what any potential candidate would perform like in a familiar corporate setting. 

Secondly, a successful Skype interview paves the way for a smooth transition from digital to face-to-face interview stage. Unlike the initial contact, the candidate now has an idea of the tone, the personality and the attire of the prospective business and its employees. Moving out of one’s comfort zone and into a corporate environment may all of a sudden not seem daunting anymore and make the candidate focus on a good conversation.

On behalf of the business (as was mentioned before) Skype interviews can be beneficial financially in terms of travel expenses but also in the preservation of time and resources of its own employees conducting the interview. Furthermore, there is another manner to keep resources to a minimum in order to identify the ideal candidate – introducing Skype interview outsourcing where a recruitment business will step into the shoes of the original interviewer and will present previously agreed questions. Conversely, this means that the interview becomes somewhat of a monologue of the candidate due to the attempt not to skew the response on behalf of the recruiter who will have some, but not all, of the knowledge required to conduct a full-fledged interview.

My tips

While all of the points made convey a rather positive image, making online-interviewing somewhat of a win-win situation, there exists a plethora of potential pitfalls which may impair with the successful completion of the interview. I have therefore chosen to create a quick checklist.

1.Candidates should always set up their web-cam in an angle which highlights their positive features. Practice with different set-ups and also see what impact differently coloured clothes may have on the call-quality.

2.Dress the way you would for a face-to-face interview. 

3.If you have notes next to you, do not make it obvious you are using them.

4.Candidates should be prepared to be asked to get up and get some item from another room. This is common practice and serves the purpose to see what you are wearing. I have come across a candidate who was dressed to impress on the upper part facing the camera but was wearing tracksuit pants which threw a rather negative light on his commitment.

5.Choose a place which is neither messy, dark nor noisy. Also refrain from showing your favourite cat-image, heavy metal-poster or other controversy invoking material in the background.

6.Be prepared for technical problems.  There may well be an issue at either end and the last thing you want to do is panic.  Prepare what you will say to ensure you act calmly and take it in your stride.  Use glitches to your advantage and show your pragmatic professionalism in a crisis.  

7.Lastly, but most importantly: Preparation is everything.

In short, can candidates make mistakes which may not be as common in a face-to-face setting? Sure. But are Skype interviews also a good way to leverage initial nervousness and a way to facilitate a genuine conversation between employer and prospective employee? Absolutely. 

Ultimately, this is the advice I give all my candidates: Prepare well and try to have some fun with the interview for this is the topic you are a specialist in.

 

Christoph Ritzke

Executive researcher at Clement May London