Tips on interviewing for a job by Skype

It is becoming more common for employers to conduct first interviews via Skype. One benefit of the High School Counseling profession is that you can live anywhere you want and there is a need for your profession. It is not uncommon for a Counselor in one part of the country to decide I want to move to “X” to experience what they offer. Spouse transfers can also dictate a move from one state to another. The Skype interview is one way you can that employers are weeding out the first batch of candidates to determine if the job is a good fit for both parties.

Dan Royles, an Assistant Professor at Florida International University recently wrote a blog, “How to Style Your Skype Interview” . It was written for higher education academia but he had some good tips that should be of interest to High School Counselors that might be looking to move elsewhere and possibly could interview by Skype.

He says as in any job interview, the most important thing is to speak clearly and succinctly about your record as a Counselor, as well as how you will fit into a new school. But a Skype interview presents particular challenges that require you to go over and above the conventional interview preparation.

Hit tips are:

* Dress the part: Make sure to wear your full interview outfit — even the parts the committee won’t be able to see. For one, if you have to jump up in the middle of the interview for any reason, you don’t want to be caught wearing shorts. But on top of that, wearing your interview attire will help you get into the interview mindset.

When choosing a shirt or blouse for the Skype interview, go with solid colors over fine patterns, such as stripes, polka dots, or gingham. Patterns can be distracting on camera, especially when the search committee can only see you from the chest up. Dressing the part communicates to the search committee that you are serious about the position. Your interview outfit should also be clean and ironed — even if you don’t think the search committee will be able to tell on camera.

* Preparing your space: At a conference interview, you have no control over the decor of the hotel suite or the color of the curtain separating cubicles in the Job Center. What’s more, it doesn’t matter — everyone is interviewing in the exact same surroundings. The Skype interview is different, because the committee is looking into the homes and offices of 10 to 20 different candidates. The setting of your Skype interview will not make you as a candidate, but it surely can break you.

Above all, make sure the background of your interview is not too distracting. Set up the shot so that the wall behind you is parallel to the screen. Do not situate yourself in a corner — that will look awkward and cramped on screen. Clean up your space and clear out any clutter. You don’t have to deep clean your entire apartment; just make sure that whatever the interviewer can see looks tidy. While you may feel the need to telegraph “I am a serious scholar!” by setting up your shot with stacks and stacks of books behind you, resist the temptation. You want the interviewer’s focus to be on you, and you alone.

Similarly, make sure that the setting for your interview will be free of roommates, partners, children, and pets. If you live with other people, let them know about your interview ahead of time, so that they’re not walking back and forth behind you while you’re on the call. If you live with pets, put them in another room. Cats in particular seem to give people trouble during Skype interviews. Again, you want to be remembered for your compelling achievements as a Counselor, not because your cat flashed its rear to the entire search committee.

* Setting up: Try to set up the camera and lighting 30 minutes in advance, so that you’re not flustered pulling it all together at the last minute. Open up your computer’s camera feed (on a Mac I use Photo Booth) to help you frame the shot and adjust the lighting.

Set up your computer so that the camera is at eye level. You don’t want the interviewer to be looking down on you, or staring up into your nostrils. If you’re using a desktop computer with a built-in camera that is difficult to move, adjust the height of your chair. Either way, you should be able to look into the camera as though you were making eye contact during an interview.

Once the camera is in place, spend a few minutes playing around with different lighting options. You may need to rearrange your lamps in order to achieve the desired effect. You should be clearly lit so that the search committee can see you, but you also don’t want to be lit too strongly from any one direction, as this will cause shadows on your face.

Putting a little thought into the Skype interview process can help you stand out and get the job!