Job Interviews from Your Living Room

The days of nervously running over talking points for your job interview while sitting in stuffy waiting rooms may be over. Now you can be nervous in your living room instead.

Time Magazine reports that more employers are relying on Skype, a video-chatting program, to conduct their hiring interviews.
It’s not because these employers are shy or non-confrontational (though that may be the case), but rather a way to cut costs. One study cited in the article claimed that it costs as much as $1000 to fly a candidate out for an interview and put them up in a hotel for the night. That’s a lot of money to invest in someone before they even fill out paperwork for the position.

Of course, many job seekers are eager to take advantage of this technology, too. Not all companies cover your travel expenses for interviews, and even when they do, travelling to and from can be very time consuming.

Stephen Bhadran worked as a Java developer at a start-up in Florida. The company went belly-up earlier this year and he found himself hunting for jobs in the less-than-desirable Florida economy. He ended up applying to several positions on the West Coast, and used Skype to interview for them, rather than jet back and forth.

Still, it’s hard enough to prepare for a normal job interview, so how do you prepare for a Skype interview? Here are a few tips.

1.    Know the Program. This is really important and easily overlooked: make sure you actually use Skype a few times before the interview. This way you can get more familiar with the chat with someone via video, and make sure your computer’s speakers and microphone pick-up are up to snuff. If you have a friend living abroad, this could be the perfect excuse to catch up with them. Otherwise, Skype with your mom.

2.    Mind the Delay. There may be a slight delay, the way there used to be with overseas calls, so wait till your interviewer is done speaking before you start (to make sure make sure you don’t talk over anyone). This might take a bit of practice if you’re used to very dynamic interviews with a lot of give and take.

3.    Kill the Distractions. Time Magazine stresses that you put out your dog (not actually kill it) so it doesn’t bark during the background. I would add some things to the list: make sure your children are out of the house or sleeping soundly, and be sure to silence your cell phone (particularly if it has an embarrassing ring tone).

4.    A Clean Background. Visual distractions are just as important. Though it may not feel like it, you are essentially inviting your potential employers into your home. So place your computer in a plainly decorated room, away from your vintage Pamela Anderson Baywatch posters. And as with any interview, dress appropriately and make eye contact (which means look directly into the web cam, when you’re speaking, not the monitor). Just try to avoid eye strain while doing so.  

5.    Use Notes. One advantage of the Skype interview is you can prepare a few crucial talking points on a note card and leave them near your computer, but out of sight. This way, if you get stuck trying to answer a question, just peer over quickly at your note card and pull out your killer line.

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