9 ways to nail your Skype or phone interview

Choose a location that's quiet, where you won’t be interrupted

Remember earlier this year when Robert E. Kelly became an online sensation because his kids interrupted his interview with BBC News? While it was hilariously funny and adorably cute, it was also rather embarrassing for Robert and his wife.

And, no, this wasn’t a job interview, but imagine it had been? It’s sad but true that it’s not exactly the best situation to find yourself in when you’re trying to convince a potential employer that you’re the best candidate for the role.

So find a reliable space, preferably in your home, or in a room where you know you won’t be disturbed either by curious kids or even a barking pet dog.

Also, you might want to make sure that the space you’re in is without distractions. Tidy up, put away anything that could catch your eye while you’re in the middle of a very important sentence, and make sure you’re not looking at a calendar or to do list with a list of tasks that could distract you.

Look appropriate

Just because you’re in the comfort of your own home on the other side of the country (or world, for that matter), doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dress appropriately. Dress and groom yourself as if you were going into an interview in person. It gets you into the right mindset for your interview.

So shower, comb your hair, and put on a nice outfit. And no, it’s not okay to wear a nice top and your underwear – what if you need to get up for something and your future boss sees your old granny panties?

Check all connectivity

Whether it be a Skype or phone interview, take at least 15 minutes before the start of the interview to check that your cell has enough signal/the wifi is working/  and that there’s nothing wrong with your phone. Nothing irritates more than when you’re trying to call someone and there’s bad signal or you can’t hear each other, etc.

This might still happen anyway, some things are just out of our control, but try your best to make sure you’ve eliminated any obvious problems.

"Keep reminding yourself to speak clearly and slowly without sounding like a walkman with flat batteries."

Make sure they can see you clearly

At least the top half of your body anyway. Make sure your head shoulders and hands are visible and that you’re not crowding the camera or hunching over it. It’s bad body language and might convey the wrong message.

Remember to speak clearly

Especially if the line is a bit wonky, or you think they might have trouble hearing you. Keep reminding yourself to speak clearly and slowly without sounding like a walkman with flat batteries. You don’t want to keep getting interrupted with an “I’m sorry, what was that?” every time you speak. It will also help you sound more intelligent and prepared. Also, sit up straight – it will project your voice better and you’ll sound more confident.

Make sure they know you’re listening

It’s hard to convey interest in what the interviewer is saying when you’re not face to face. This is difficult over video chat, but even more so over the phone.

When you’re on a telephone call, you want to listen to what the interviewer is saying and not interrupt them, but you also can’t stay silent for too long and have it seem like you’ve zoned out of the conversation. For this, I suggest practise. If you’re doing a phone interview, simply by saying “yes”, or “sure”, etc when your interviewer gets to the end of their sentences will help to make it sound like you really are listening.

"If you’re in a different part of the country or world, then do a quick search on what the weather is like where your interviewer is and what might be happening in the local news if you don’t know already."

If you’re doing a video call, then remember to smile and nod accordingly like you would in a face to face interview, but also say simple things like “Ja, I understand” or “yeah, sure” intermittently so as to show that you are still listening and interested in the conversation. This is also important because your screen could freeze and then it basically turns into a phone interview. So be prepared. I would suggest practising with a friend.

Prepare yourself for small talk

Usually you’ll be led into the interview with some quick banter or there could be some issue like a colleague running late, or the camera not picking up, but they can hear your voice, etc. So be prepared to talk about random things. If you’re in a different part of the country or world, then do a quick search on what the weather is like where your interviewer is and what might be happening in the local news if you don’t know already. This way you have some topics prepared and hopefully there won’t be any awkward silence while you wait for whatever problem to be resolved.

Remember to gesticulate

Remember to use your arms and hands to gesture to things even if the person you’re talking to can’t see you. This study suggests that gesticulation help form part of our communication systems and therefore help us better convey what we’re trying to say. Another study also suggests that it will help you feel less nervous and help you say fewer fillers like “Ummm” and “errr”. Also, if it’s a phone interview, you might want to look at yourself in the mirror while you’re talking so you’re not just looking at that piece of carpet that’s come loose. Although that might prove to be distracting.

Look into the camera

This is specifically for Skype calls, of course, but looking into the camera is like making eye contact when you’re on a video call. Obviously you’re allowed to look at the self view and the image of them being projected on your screen, but looking into the camera makes you look as if you’re really paying attention. This also conveys enthusiasm and willingness to participate.

And lastly...

Make sure your username is professional

Nothing is more embarrassing than a potential employer commenting on the fact that your Skype screen name is “MrsBieber4Lyf” or “SexyMama101”. Make sure the account you’re using sounds professional.

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