Thursday 21 February 2013

Skype job interviews: Some tips and tricks to shorten the odds…

Given the cost of travel and the need to ‘see’ as many potential NAMs as possible, companies are beginning to Skype the process, at least for initial interviews. In fact, in the US more than six out of 10 HR managers now use video to interview job applicants, according to a survey*.

As with other aspects of these unprecedented times, the key for proactive NAMs is to adapt to the Skype interview, while others are awaiting a return to the old fashioned face-to-face approach.
Besides, the use of Skype will allow you to apply for more jobs, with the added value that getting the first interview on Skype right, will make you more effective in the inevitable face-to-face second interview…..


Get the background right: Unless you are blessed with an exceptionally open-minded sales director, the Skype interview will probably take place in your home office or a suitable part of your living room.
- Lock the door to prevent interruption (and explain why, to spouse, kids and pets…)
- Best to be sat behind a desk or table in order to avoid having to stage-manage your lower torso [this also allows any nervousness to be dissipated via ‘gesture-leakage’ (foot-tapping or worse, in extreme cases…)]
- Ensure that nothing that looks even vaguely confidential is visible on your shelves behind you.  ‘If she leaves our stuff on open view like that, we need someone else..’

Get the equipment right: Ideally, and laptop permitting, it has to be worth buying a £50 webcam + bluetooth clip-on mic to ensure that you look and especially, sound as good as it gets... (seriously, would you buy anything, let alone employ, someone that looks like your distorted image, taken by a laptop camera?).  Also, despite allowances being made for circumstances, interviewers have developed expectations of broadcast level standards in evaluating video-interviews. Also use an ear-phone to ensure you hear the whole question.

Get your appearance right: Dress as you would for a face-to-face interview, remembering that just because your bottom half is out-of-sight, it is possible that having to stand up in mid-interview may give away more than intended…  Use your live image to ensure that that you are staying in-frame, and then ignore it and play direct to camera 99% of the time. This will ensure that you are giving full eye contact, where even a glance at your laptop screen looks shifty… You will get used to picking up most of the interviewer’s body-language via your peripheral vision..

Get your preparation right: If you need help here, you are not using the internet properly… However, anyone who goes for a job in these unprecedented times, without first checking the company out at Companies House at £1 per company, is not ready for the move…

Beware the ‘dirty tricks’: Some interviewers switch off the camera at their end (!) to avoid you seeing their reaction to answers etc… If this happens with you, pull the plug and go for a coffee, you are already pitching at the wrong company…
- Other dirty tricks can include the ‘sell me this’ routine: In a job-interview a few years back, a pal of mine, Joe, was handed a biro by his potential sales director and told ‘sell me this’.  Joe examined the biro, snapped it in half and threw it into the waste-bin, saying: “Mr B, a man in your position shouldn’t be using rubbish like this. What you need is a pen like this, drawing his Mont Blanc into view…  (No, he didn’t get the job, but reminds me of the story every time we meet….)

- The key is practice, and enough preparation to minimise distracting glances at notes
- Above all, remember that your objective in the first-interview is to land a second-interview, all the good in-depth stuff really comes into play then…

All this for a new job? Real thinkers will be way ahead of me on this, but have you ever thought that all of the above could equally apply to at least some buyer-seller meetings, in these unprecedented times…….?

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