Practice makes perfect. This dictum applies to learning to do anything well -- whether it's riding a bike, speaking a foreign language, or doing a Skype interview with confidence. Consultant Kerrie Hopkins, who works with clients on 5 continents with her company NameZook, advises not only practicing but also recording your efforts to review. "People have no idea how they are being received on another's computer screen," says Hopkins.
That's not a great thing, since in a still shaky economy when companies that are able to hire are increasingly turning to online interviews to save time and money, being able to interview comfortably on Skype is an essential skill to have.
So in addition to practicing, how else can job seekers prepare for an online interview? I asked dozens of executives, career consultants, and tech experts nationwide this question. Here are their best 14 tips. Got more? Please share them in the comments section below.
1. Look Into The Camera "During Skype interviews, some people fixate on themselves on the computer screen. This gives the impression that the candidate is not making eye contact with the interviewer on the other end. When an interview starts, take a moment to make sure you look fine on the screen, then focus on looking into the camera."--Davin Malasarn, Science Writer for the California NanoSystems Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles
2. Get Rid of Distractions "Make sure that [you're] the only living object in view. Maybe you're 27 and living with your parents, but the person interviewing you doesn't need to know that. Let the people in your life know what's happening, and insist they stay at the opposite side of the house/apartment. If you have kids, it would be helpful to have a babysitter come to make sure there is no crying during the Skype session. And pets should also be out of view."--Rich DeMatteo, Co-Founder of Bad Rhino, a social media marketing firm, and Founder of Corn on the Job, a job search blog, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
3. Put Your Hands Where They Can See Them "Make sure that the camera on your computer gives a good shot of your head and shoulders, as well as of your hands. Remember that a good portion of understanding comes from body language and other non-verbal cues, so you want to make sure that the upper half of your body is showing."--John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC, "Heckers Development Group, LTD, â€¨Cherry Creek, Colorado
4. Plug In Securely "Plug your computer into an ethernet port, and plug your headphones into the computer's jack. You want direct ethernet access because it's far more stable than wireless, and you want to have headphones in to avoid playback from the speakers."--Fan Bi, Founder + Chief Shirt, Blank Label, Boston, Massachussetts
5. Light Yourself Kindly "Lighting [is crucial]. Set up two task lights on either side of the computer/webcam. Test the light so that it is evenly lit and flattering."--â€¨Sarah Cornwellâ€¨, appbackr, Palo Alto, California
6. Dress For Success "It may seem like a good idea to wear a dressy top, and shorts below where you think the camera might not see it. But you might be surprised how wardrobe malfunctions can happen. Dress the part 100 percent... just like you are going into a real interview, which this is!"--Dawn Rasmussen, CMP, president of Pathfinder Writing and Career Services, Portland, Oregon
7. Avoid Technical Difficulties "It is of utmost importance to ensure that your internet connection works properly during a Skype interview. It is difficult to have a discussion if the interviewer is unable to hear you due to technological difficulties and interruptions. The impression will be that you are unreliable."--Lynda Zugec, Managing Director, â€¨The Workforce Consultants, New York, New York
8. Sound Strong "Clarity is very important. For heaven's sakes, buy a USB [-connected] headset because the microphone jack usually provides a suboptimal experience."--Tadd Rosenfeld, Principal at TeamLauncher.com, Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
9. Slow It Down
"It can be easier to talk over people on a Skype call so wait for the interviewer to stop speaking before you answer. This also gives you a few seconds to think about what you want to say before you speak."--Jessica Silverstein, Esq., Principal, â€¨Attorneys Counsel New York, New York.
10. Know Proper Web Cam Etiquette "Do not sit too close to the camera. Sit up straight-posture goes a long way. Look at the camera. When you look directly at the camera, it appears to the interviewer that you are looking directly at them/making eye contact."--Kendall Payne Slagle, Public Relations Manager for Offers.com, â€¨Austin, Texas
11. Lean In "Sitting forward and leaning toward the camera so you become a talking head, just like on TV. This is the best way for employers to read your facial expression, which can add a great deal of meaning to your words."--Ruth Sherman, founder of Ruth Sherman Associates, LLC Greenwich
12. Be Enthusiastic "Skype interviews tend to dampen one's personality so make anâ€¨ effort to smile and act like your pleasant self as much as possible."--Christy Grimste,â€¨ Director, Educators Overseas, Tampa, Florida
13. Dress Dark With A Touch Of Color
"As in any on-camera scenarios, don't wear stripes or tight woven patterns such as hounds tooth because they'll come across like strobe lights to your interviewer. It's best to wear a darker color with accents of jewel tones in a tie, or for a ladies shirt under a suit jacket, to bring a little color to the image." --Jennifer Johnson, Founder, J. Johnson Executive Search, Inc., New York, New York
14. Get A Handle On It "Whether it's Skype, an instant-messaging client, or another videoconferencing app, you likely have a user name or "handle" that you sign in with. Make sure it's not something like beerlover2011 or casanova4u. As with your email account, choose something professional -- if you can't use just your name because it's already taken, try your name combined with your industry (jsmith_writer, for instance)."--Charles Purdy, senior editor and career expert, Monster.com, San Francisco, California
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