Ready for Your Close-Up? Interviewing via Skype or FaceTime

Initial interviews have long been conducted by phone, but more and more often this first contact now involves a video chat via Skype or FaceTime.  This helps the interviewer to get a better sense of you as a candidate – and vice versa – but there are some pitfalls.  Here are some tips to help you make just as good a first impression via video as you do in person.

Dress for Success. The business world is more casual than it used to be, but this is still an interview and you need to dress appropriately. If you’re wearing your college sweatshirt to interview for a Senior VP position – or really any position – you’re handicapping yourself before you answer the first question.

Background Check. Try to find a spot with a background that won’t be a distraction.  A plain wall is fine; your bedroom with your old collection of One Direction posters is not.  And don’t put yourself in front of  a window … light behind you will confuse your webcam and put your face in shadow.

Going Mobile. You may not be able to choose an ideal setting, depending on the circumstances. If you have to interview from your driver’s seat on your lunch hour, that’s ok. Take the opportunity to turn it into a plus by explaining that you’re committed to your current position, just as you will be to the new one.

What’s Your Angle? Another one that seems obvious, but over and over again we find that it’s not: position yourself and your device to present a flattering angle.  The interviewer would probably prefer not to be looking up your nose for 30 minutes.

Be Prepared. Don’t wait until the day of the interview to set up your Skype or Facetime account, or to figure out how it works. Do it well ahead of time, and do a dry run or two with friends to double-check everything listed here. You want to be focused on the interviewer, not the technology.

Professional Profile. If you already have your account set up, check that both your username and profile photo are suitable to a business environment.  Choosing sweetcheeks94 as your Skype username might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but your interviewer won’t think so.

Plan B. Finally, circumstances beyond your control may hamper the technical quality of the interview. Try to have a fallback option in place in case the connection is bad, and do your best not to be flustered … the interviewer probably wants to see how you handle the unexpected.