Online interviews can be a really convenient way to showcase yourself and your work to an institution. But although you may be confident at a face-to-face interview, etiquette surrounding a Skype or Facetime interview can be very different.
Here are 10 tips to help you:
- Look at the camera, not the screen
While it can be very tempting to watch yourself or your interviewer during a Skype call, looking directly at the camera is the only way to maintain direct eye contact. This will also reduce on-screen distractions and project an air of confidence to the interviewer.
- Dress the part
Treat your online interview like any other interview and dress the part - from head to toe! You don’t want to be embarrassed if you have to stand up at some point and end up showing off your pyjama pants. A smart dress code with video interviews is expected.
- Prepare your surroundings
Choose a quiet place to interview without an elaborate backdrop so that you can be the focal point on the screen. Remove anything distracting behind you and keep it neutral. If you are interviewing for an Art & Design course, you might want to have examples of your work behind you, but remember these may be difficult for the interviewer to see.
- Practice makes perfect
If you’re worried about your call feeling awkward, why no try doing a run-through with a friend or family member beforehand? This can help with little details, such as training yourself to watch the camera and not the screen. Play around with settings beforehand so that when it's interview time, you know you can both hear and be heard without difficulty.
- Close other programs on your computer
Getting Facebook notifications during your interview can be distracting and looks unprofessional. Before your interview, make sure all other windows/programmes on your computer are closed (especially if they make noise!).
- Use notes
Don't be afraid to help yourself with post-it notes when you interview; notes on qualifications you have already completed, relevant extra-curricular activities, coursework and other achievements may come in useful. Make sure any notes are easily readable so that they are quick reminders, not a script or you risk sounding too stilted, or even awkward pauses if you lose your place.
- Minimize interruptions
If you live with several people or pets, make sure you let everyone know ahead of time that you will be having an interview. It’s also a good idea to secure any animals away from your interview space – it could be as simple as closing the door. You don’t want to have to ask the interviewer to hang on while you shoo your cat away from the camera!
- Keep your profile professional
Unlike an in-person or phone interview, your first impression during a Skype interview doesn't actually involve you. The first thing your interviewer will see is your Skype username and picture, so double check that they are both interview appropriate (or create a professional Skype account specifically for the interview – they're free!)
- Check your body language
Be sure to have good posture and relax your shoulders to avoid stiffness. If you don’t know what to do with your hands and are concerned about fidgeting, try and find something non-distracting for them to do off-camera (be aware that the quiet noise of a fidget spinner or something similar might be picked up and amplified by your microphone!). If you know you tend to speak quietly, try to talk a bit louder than you would normally – this also helps to project confidence.
- Make sure the interviewer is engaged.
Stop every now and then and check your interviewer is engaged in what you are saying. Being aware of the engagement level of your interviewer is crucial in a video interview since they may have e-mails or other distractions pop up that direct attention away from you.