Interviewing for a job? There are thousands of helpful tips available for job seekers looking to ace an interview, but what about the interviewer? It's assumed that you've got the easy part, especially if you're conducting a Skype interview. Just have a copy of the interviewee's resume, a list of questions, a Skype account, and a good Internet connection, right? Skype makes it easy for almost anyone to use but conducting a video job interview and being the facilitator requires a little more planning than expected.
"The rules of basic interviews apply, but the one thing that Skype allows you to do is shorten the distance around the world," say Karl Walinskas, CEO and founder of Smart Company Growth, a small business consultanting firm. "The same types of things you can do in a face-to-face interview you can probably get 75 to 90 percent of that information from using Skype."
Many companies are doing everything possible to cut costs, saves time, maintain efficiency and produce growth, which is why more business owners are starting to rely on video technology, such as Skype, to conduct job interviews.
These four tips will help you get better at doing job interviews on Skype.
1. Set the Example
As an interviewer, you have the luxury of conducting the interview anywhere you please and the responsibility of maintaining the professional standard for your company.
Don't operate under the assumption that executing a Skype interview is just like video chatting with a friend. Just like a traditional setting, you set the standard and the pace for the interview. This seems easy enough but if done wrong, it can lower the level of professionalism especially since the pressure of face-to-face interview is off.
"This is a live interview," says Jeffrey Garber, co-founder and CEO of 360jobinterview.com and 360workforce.com, "and even though its being conducted via webcam, you should be as prepared as if that [candidate] was in front of you."
And when you remember that, all of the techniques that you would normally implement will fall into place.
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2. Check Your Tech and Setting
"Whatever technology [you] decide to implement, if it's Skype or another technology, make sure ahead of time [you] are very familiar with it and comfortable conducting online interviews," Garber says.
It's your responsibility to be familiar with the technology, just like you expect prospective candidates to be prepared and execute proper interviewing etiquette.
"If a candidate doesn't do their homework and practice with their friends on how to use the technology, then it says volumes about their seriousness as far as how they want to be perceived as a candidate," Garber adds.
Rightly so, if complications during the interview are due to technology problems on your end, it speaks volumes about your preparedness, and your expertise as an interviewer, and it reflects negatively on the company you represent.
So whether you have used Skype before or are just starting out, it's still best to test out the programs a few times with family, friends or colleagues to make sure you don't have any connection, sound or video problems. Also remember Skype's list of FAQs can help you troubleshoot any issues you may have. The list is detailed, thorough, and easy to understand.
"If you're conducting a webcam interview, make sure that it is a secure, solid broadband connection," Garber says. "Ethernet would be most valuable as opposed to wi-fi because sometimes wi-fi can drift in and out and not necessarily secure a solid connection."
Secondly, think about your location before starting your interview.
"If you work in a cubicle, my suggestion would be to see if you can book a conference room, if your company has one, because you really need to be in a very quite environment and not distracted," Garber says. "And make sure that you shut off your cell phone and also make sure that your appearance is professional and mirrors what you would expect from your candidate."
Make sure you're in a well-lit room as well. Sometimes using just one bright light in a room can cast a shadow on you and make the room appear darker than normal. On the other hand, too much natural sunlight can make you appear washed out, which is why your office or conference room is best.
When thinking about your background, keep it simple.
"Don't have clutter," Walinskas says. "Don't have your Guns N' Roses poster on the wall behind you. A plain backdrop is certainly the best."
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3. Look for Red Flags
This may not be something you catch immediately, but here are a few things to look out for.
• Skype Account Names – There's no need to get fancy here. Some variation of your first and last name will do, and the same goes for the person you're interviewing. Something too weird or personal could raise concern.
"There are certain things you just don't do," Walinskas says. "If I'm talking to somebody for a business interview and their Skype address is 'motherofalldrugaddicts' or something, I certainly think that would be problematic."
• Time Zones - "I had a Skype call interview with [someone in] Austria set up for earlier this week and they got the times wrong because they don't have daylight savings," says Matthew Corrin, CEO and founder of Freshii, a trendy fresh food restuarant that's currently franchised in four countries and 16 cities. "Whose responsibility is that?"
Good question. It's okay to be flexible and while there's no set rule about whose responsibility it is to make accommodations for time zones, it shouldn't be a problem more than once.
"If it takes more than two back and forths to get the timing, I always consider that a red flag," Corrin says.
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4. Try Recording
"I do these final-round interviews on behalf of our franchise partners and I'm always taking notes," Corrin says. "It would be great to be able to fire that video off to somebody instead of me saying "here's the questions I asked, and here's what I learned."
Now you can.
One of the benefits of conducting Skype interviews is having the option to record them. Garber and Walinskas both agree that having the ability to record interviews allow them to be more engaged with candidates during the interview. They can also play back the interview to colleagues and clients for review.
When you first set up a Skype account, there's not a direct 'record' button for you to push, but there are several plugins that are compatible with Skype. A popular plugin is Vodburner, which records video and audio from both sides and also allows you to edit it and upload the content to YouTube and other platforms.
How? Simply click on the 'Extras' option located under the 'Tools' tabs on the menu bar. From there click on the 'VodBurner Video Call Recorder' tab and download the plugin.
This way you don't have to rely on memory or notes to help you determine which candidates stood out the most, but you do have to keep one thing in mind.
"If you're interviewing and it is going to be recorded and your teammates are going to watch it, you can't slick through it," Garber says. "You've got to do your homework on your candidate and be incredibly prepared because if colleagues do see this you want to be the best at your game as well."
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