Tips for an Online (Skype) Interview: Think Like an Actor

Brent Pittman —  11/12/2012
Spot light on stage

You are the star in your online interview. Think like an actor. Credit ManImMac.

You’ve done it! You’ve found your dream job. After crafting the perfect resume, networking online and offline, and by being awesome–you finally have an interview worth being excited about.

There is just one catch, they want to interview you online. What? Yes, an online interview on your computer’s webcam over the Internet.

Nervous? Don’t be. I’ll share tips on how to nail your online interview.  I speak as a former recruiter who has hired hundreds and hundreds of workers and reviewed untold thousands of resumes.

I’ve also successfully won positions through Skype interviews and phone calls. I even have an online interview on the morning this article was published on Google Hangout. (I wonder if my interviewer is reading this?)

The basics of interviewing in person still apply to interviewing on an online interview. Just think like an aspiring actor and you’ll be on your way to landing the role of your dreams.

Online Interview Tip: Agree to the Audition

“Sure, I’m available for an online job interview over Skype/Facetime/Google Hangout on Monday.” Now you’re wondering, “Just what in the heck is a Skype, Facetime, or Google Hangout?”

Don’t worry about the technology details yet, just agree to the interview and give yourself a day or two to get the technology mastered.

If you don’t have an computer, I’m sure a friend will let you borrow one for this important audition.

Check these guides for the most popular tools you’ll most likely be using for your online interview:

Online Interview Tip: Know Your Director

The Director is the company and the person(s) conducting the interview. It is easy to find (stalk) the hiring company and persons who might be present on the Skype interview.

Don’t be suprised if more than one person is present or if the online interview is being recorded for decision makers to review later.

Scour social media, Google the company, lurk on LinkedIn, etc..for any useful information. You know how. Stalk them online like you used to stalk your ex.

head set with mic

Avoid wearing your ‘cool’ new headset for the interview. Credit bisonblog.

Online Interview Tip: Prepare the Set

An online interview is perfect since you’ll be able to control the environment your interviewer will see.

Now it’s time to test out the technology with on a live test call with a friend or family member. On the live test call have your friend check for:

  • Audio level. Do you need to purchase a microphone or is the built in mic enough? Please avoid headsets!
  • Visual Appearance. How is your head framed? Is the camera too close or too far? How is the lighting at the time of your scheduled call? Ensure the quality of the video call is the best possible. Check out The Technical Setup Behind my Videos on Problogger [Video]
  • Background- Your potential employer doesn’t want to see evidence of dogs, children, or other potential objects that could bias their opinion of you like religious or political stickers on your wall. If you want to go all out build a green screen and place your own background.
  • Practice- Look at the camera, smile, and answer a few practice questions to get used to talking into your computer.
Make sure to clear your schedule for that day informing any family members or roommates that you’ll need the house to yourself during the interview. Also, figure out how to turn off all buzzing phones, email, or other device that could go off during your interview.

Online Interview Tip: Rehearse Your Lines and Tell Your Story

Are you ready to tell your story? YOU are the compelling story in this movie. Know yourself and your story of why you are the best actor for this role.

While they are sure to throw some curve ball questions, you can prepare for those softball generic questions they expect you answer–and answer well.

Rehearse your lines! Start with these few sample interview questions:

What your potential employer really wants to find out:
  • Can this person make my life easier? [Are you hungry?]
  • Will this person help our company make money? [Are you skilled and smart?]
  • Can I trust them? [Are you humble?]
  • Are you a liability? [Are you crazy?]
  • Could they be your friend? [Are you likable?]

Don’t forget to prepare questions to ask to your interviewer. You don’t want to drill your interviewer and be annoying, but you also need to find out if this company, position, and boss is right for you.

Sample question to ask your potential boss:

  • What is your managerial style? [Will you work well with your potential boss?]
  • Can you describe the company culture? [Does this culture fit you?]
  • What would a ‘normal’ week look like [Will you enjoy the required tasks?]
  • Try out a few from 13 Questions to Ask During Your Next Interview.
  • Do NOT ask about compensation or benefits during your first interview.

Online Interview Tips: Lights, Camera, Action!

You’ve prepared and are ready to go. Now it’s time to perform! You’re going to do awesome with these Skype interview tips:

  • Relax and be confident- You’ve prepared. You know your story. You’re wearing your lucky interview shirt. Feel confident this is the perfect role for you and enjoy the process.
  • Look at the camera and smile- Remember you’re on camera, but don’t give them the death stare.
  • Examine the background of the interviewer- Look for objects that give clues about your interviewer or company. Is their desk neat or messy? If you notice a picture of their kid playing soccer and you were a soccer player–use it as a relating point.
  • Pause before answering questions- It is better to wait a few seconds than to give a poor answer.
  • Keep responses short- Restrain yourself from rambling. 60 second responses are sufficient in most cases.
  • Ask questions- This is a chance to use the questions you prepared to discover more about the company, position, and potential boss. You are also interviewing them.

Wait for the Callback

By the time the audition is over both you and the interviewer have a good idea if you’re the right actor for the job. Now is the time to write a thank you note to the interviewer(s) and wait.

If you receive a second interview or job offer then you can begin asking questions about compensation and benefits. [8 Finance Questions to Ask When Considering a Job Offer]

Have you had an online interview via Skype? What tips would you offer? 

Related posts:

Brent Pittman

Posts Twitter Google+

Brent is a financial coach and writer looking for the perfect donut. He believes personal finance should be both fun and accessible to anyone willing to learn.
  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    I think these are all great tips, but I wonder about your emphasis on the background. Don’t you think something as dramatic as a green screen background might actually seem like an inauthentic turnoff? My opinion would be that you want to at least appear as natural as possible.
    That being said, paying attention to lighting and background is basically the skype equivalent of making sure that your breath doesn’t stink and that your clothes are clean. And who would argue with that? :)

    • http://www.ontargetcoach.com/ Brent Pittman

      Loren,
      Very possible about the homemade green screen. Maybe I got carried away with the possibilities. Love your comment about lighting and background!

  • krantcents

    I never used Skype for an interview, but I can see it as a real possibility. It could make the whole search process more effective.

    • http://www.ontargetcoach.com/ Brent Pittman

      Saving time is key and having the ability to view a potential employee in person before flying them for an in person interview could save a lot of money.