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5 best practices for Skype interviews

Cloud communication is on the rise. As the digital landscape continues to make the world we live on smaller, so does it increase the opportunity to engage with talented professionals and global organisations, at much more convenient times and locations; speeding up hiring processes.
Since its launch in 2003 Skype is now generally considered the ‘go-to’ tool for online video interviews - with the platform making over two trillion minutes worth of video calls in the past decade [1]. However, whilst the concept of video for recruitment is not new, many interviewees are still unprepared for this style of meeting.
To give you the best chance of succeeding during a Skype interview we’ve collected our recruitment experiences to share with you the Caspian One five best practices - and not just the what, but also the how.
One | “Get your ducks in a row” - Be technically prepared
Any blog that talks about interviews will generally start, or make a big point out of preparation; I expect you’ve heard the “proper preparation prevents poor performance” speech before…
When it comes to video interviews the typical interview advice you’ll hear will still be valid - but there’s additional complications; you’ll also need to consider surrounding technological requirements.
I’m not going to patronise you by saying “download Skype” or “buy a camera” as honestly, if this isn’t obvious, stop reading now. However there are some regularly overlooked aspects to technical setups it’s worth considering;
  • Your Skype username | fluffykittens91sparkle is not going to do you any favours. The first impressions you make are vital. Use your real name and be professional
  • Internet speed | the last thing you want is poor quality chat due to your internet being insufficient. Google search ‘internet speed test’ and use a free tool to see your results. Skype recommends a download/upload speed of 1.2Mbps for HD video calling [2], but high quality video can be conducted from 400kbps. If you’re below this, it’s time to consider relocating
  • Hardware | Will your speakers be clear for you but unheard by the interviewer? Do you have a quality microphone?  Does your camera deliver a quality image?
  • Software | Check your computer doesn’t require any updates and that your version of Skype is up-to-date. It’s also worth ensuring all notification settings are off, so you’re not ‘binging’ throughout the interview
  • Test in advance | Quite self-explanatory. Test everything thoroughly, make a practice call and be confident that your technical setup won’t let you down
Two | Location, location, location
Location plays a vital part in proper video calling etiquette, therefore getting it right is incredibly important for interview success. Your appearance on video will be the first impression made, but even the smartest suit can’t help you if the video background is inappropriate, or the lighting so bad you’re are just a black shape.
The beauty of video is that you can determine how you want to be seen and perceived. To get this right, start by determining the most suitable place to be interviewed. You’re looking to avoid;
  • Visual distractions (posters, cluttered shelves, mess, etc)
  • Poor lighting conditions
  • Noisy environments where you’ll struggle to be heard clearly
Once you’ve found this corner of paradise, setup your equipment and take a test screenshot using your camera, as-if you were about to start your interview. The image should show your head and shoulders, utilising the available image space and ensuring visual data like hand movements can be seen. The lighting should be natural where possible, giving a clear, crisp picture of you. The background should be simple, a blank wall is perfect - or take another step ahead by carefully placing items in the background that will help in developing your personal brand.
As for eliminating noise, this leads on to our next section; 
Three | Avoid distractions & interruptions
There’s little worse than being distracted or interrupted during the most important interview of your life. Can you imagine meeting with your dream company, only to have your wife and kids storm the room, as happened in this viral clip.
Luckily this can be avoided with some simple preparation. For one, don’t choose a cafe or noisy public environment where you cannot control the sound levels. Secondly, consider all the ‘worst case scenario’ situations that could occur and put in actions to prevent them. So, if you’re interviewing at home in your office with pets around, make sure the doors can be locked and that the animals are kept away from you.
You also want to ensure all technological distractions are removed, so turning your mobile phone off is normally a good practice to maintain.
Four | Active listening
Did you know humans can produce over 5,000 distinct hand gestures, 250,000 facial expressions and 1,000 different postures? [3] When face-to-face it’s somewhat easy to manage these communicative actions, but over video chat you are immediately at a disadvantage.
When taking part in a video interview you should be consciously aware of what you're non-verbally doing. Sit up, don’t slump into your seat. Use your hands when conversing. Mirror your interviewers movements, actions and even speech - if they’re talking slow and precisely, do the same.
Most importantly maintain eye contact with the interviewer throughout, and use facial expressions to demonstrate you’re actively listening to what’s being said - so eyebrow lifts, head nods, smiling, even verbal “Mhmm” cues when appropriate. Also be aware of silent moments. Silence can be a great tool when asking questions [4] but over video it can also look like you’ve stopped paying attention or your video has stopped working.
Five | Research
So, you’ve followed all the steps above. You have found the perfect location, got all your equipment prepared, tested everything possible and are ready to actively engage with your interviewer. One last question - who are you meeting with?
As part of your interview preparation you will undoubtedly spend time researching the business and job role. An advantage of video interviews is that these notes can be subtly made available to you off screen - just consider placement and they effect on your eye movements.
During this research stage you’ll also want to consider the culture of the company and how this could impact the style of interview. For example, if you’re interviewing with a tech startup that promotes a fun culture and staff in casual clothing, going all out on a expensive suit may be inappropriate. Comparatively, if you know the company have a strict professional look maybe keep your sleeves down covering any tattoos.
Thank you for reading this week’s article. If you have any more questions on video interviewing or are interested in discussing personal career or business hiring requirements, <click here> to contact us by email or call +1 (416) 900 1284
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