Skype Interviews: My Experience

December 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

Well, ladies and gents, yesterday I had my first Skype interview for an internship. I’ve interviewed in person and over the phone in the past, so combining the two on Skype was an interesting experience. Not surprisingly, I used a lot of the same get-ready techniques for this interview as I have in the past.

If anyone’s wondering, I interviewed for the Community Manager Intern position at Livefyre. Go check them out!

The list includes:

  1. PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE. Should I bold that? Italicize it? All of the above? I discovered the internship posting several weeks ago, and sent an email to the company about a week ago. Between that I scoured the company’s website, Facebook page, Twitter account, and basically Internet-stalked a few of the employees (in a good way!). I read the Community Manager’s website and blog, and followed her on Twitter. I also followed the CEO, and the company itself. I even found the previous intern for the position (not too hard, as he was hired at the end of his internship!) and read his blog about interning at the company. As creepy as this may sound, it actually helped me quite a bit – not only did I get a great feel for what Livefyre’s company and product is about, I also got a sense of their community of users, and the general tone of the team. Earlier today, I was reading through my Twitter feed and noticed the Community Manager was interacting in a conversation about an article; I followed the link. And what did I find? The article was about pet peeves employers have about job/internship interviews and silly mistakes the potential employees/interns make. That was an eye-opener. Not only did it serve to remind me of what I shouldn’t do in an interview, but I also got to see what the woman interviewing me was feeling about it. I actually brought the article up in the interview, and in a comment on that very same article, my interviewer relayed how impressed she was that I’d done my research. Whether you call it preparation, research, or good ol’ Internet stalking, you will definitely be prepared for your interview, with a good knowledge base of the company and people you will (hopefully!) be working with.
  2. Dress well. My research showed me that the Livefyre team is serious about their work, but also a group of relaxed, fun-loving people. The dress code in the office appeared to be casual, at least in the Facebook photos they’d displayed. I picked out a nice sweater with a cardigan to go over it. Since you’re interacting over a screen (and especially if you’re in HD video – yikes!), avoid prints that will clutter the screen and distract the eye. I chose a color that I know looks good on me and wouldn’t overpower our conversation. If you think you’ll stay put for the interview, you can decide what you want to wear on bottom. If there’s any possibility you’ll be getting up during the interview, complete your outfit appropriately. While it may be comfortable to interview in a professional top and PJs on the bottom, that won’t reflect well on you if your papers blow off your desk and you can’t reach them without getting up. Just sayin’…
  3. Be aware of your surroundings. This was of particular importance to me: I was interviewing from my dorm room. I notified my roommate, put a “DO NOT DISTURB – SKYPE INTERVIEW IN PROCESS!” sign on my door, and cleaned up my room. I also closed my windows, as people are strangely noisy right by my room. I made sure the computer was at such an angle so there wasn’t anything conspicuous in the background (my roommate has some political posters on her side of the room – it’s cool and all, but better to keep things neutral). I picked up anything that made the background look cluttered. It may seem like a small detail for something over Skype, but you never know what may impact your interviewer. Better to be safe than sorry!
  4. Prepare. Yes, this is a repeat, and no, you can’t have too much of it. I prepared an entire sheet of questions I had as well as statements (such as what I would do to contribute the first day of my internship) written down, just in case. I didn’t end up referencing the sheet in (this) interview, but I have before in the past and it’s always helpful to have notes to refer to if needed.
  5. Be enthusiastic. I’m an upbeat person, most of the time. It’s not hard for me to be enthusiastic when talking to new people or when I’m a bit nervous. Make sure you’re being enthusiastic about the right things, though. Be enthusiastic about the company, the product, the people you’ll be working with, the location, and what you can learn at your job/internship. While I’ve never done anything quite like what I was applying for at Livefyre, I’m eager to learn all I can and made sure that came across in both my cover letter and the interview. If you’re enthusiastic, your interviewer will take note.
  6. Skype etiquette. These are no-brainers for people who use Skype regularly (I’m thinking of college kids communicating with boyfriends/girlfriends/high school friends for fun), but it’s good to know if you’re not familiar with the program. Test a call ahead of time to make sure your Internet connection will work. Get the hang of adjusting your screen or webcam to catch you at your most flattering angle. Test out what lighting makes you look great, and learn how to avoid the lighting that makes you look like you stayed up all night. Check and double-check the Skype username of whomever you’re Skyping with. And when it comes down to interview time…be the first to call. I’ve always been the first one to call my interviewer/employer, whether it’s on the phone or Skype. Doing so shows initiative. And here’s a big one: during the actual call, make sure you are looking up. Sometimes it can be tempting to watch ourselves as we talk, since we never get to see ourselves mirrored in normal conversations. If you want to make eye contact with your interviewer, look at your webcam. This is looking directly into the camera, and can be quite powerful. Don’t look away from your computer, unless it’s to check your notes or write something down. In general, the same rules of in-person interviewing apply to Skype interviewing: make good eye contact and smile!

Did I enjoy my Skye interview? You bet I did. It was a great way to connect instantly from L.A. to San Francisco, directly into the Livefyre office. Since I’ve used Skype extensively in the past, it wasn’t too nerve-racking. I definitely think that Skype interviews are much better than phone interviews. It is the perfect merge: there is still the immediacy and simplicity of a phone interview, but with the added bonus of a face-to-face conversation.

So take a deep breath, set your computer at the ready, and get your interview game face on!

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