Tuesday, August 27, 2013

WineTalent's Skype Interview Survival Guide (For Interviewers and Interviewees)

Over the years I've conducted a lot of video interviews over Skype.  The technology is relatively easy to use, free unless you want a subscription or wish to use skype for calling, and has improved dramatically over the last few years.

Now, if you are a casual Skype user, you probably know how to use it, make video calls and send messages.  This user guide can come in handy for you and might allow you to catch yourself in some bad habits.  For first time users I hope I can address all the steps and also give you some pointers to make the video call more comfortable and useful.

So, to set up an account, go to www.skype.com and download the software if you don't have it on my computer or tablet already.  Once you download the software you will need to set up an account.  Your account name will be the name people use to find you on Skype.  Since there are not a lot of people with the name of WineTalent, I was able to secure that account name.  You will want to add your name, email and phone number for people in case they need to reach you when not on Skype.

Once you have your account name, you will go to your contacts section and find people you are going to Skype with.  If you are using Windows 8, it is a bit hard to find the contacts, so click on People, and then right click on the screen and you can search for Skype users to find them.  When you have found your video interview contact, send them a contacts request to establish a connection.  The default setting is to have yourself always online.  I don't use Skype consistently enough, so I take myself offline when I'm not planning to be using it.

When you set up your Skype account the software will walk you through setting up your audio and video equipment.  It is very user friendly, and quick to do.  This test set-up also let's you see the camera angle and the audio quality, so play around with it until the video setting looks good.

In the past it was best to have a hardwired internet connection--but the last few video calls I have done completely wireless and the quality was very good.  Do a test run to see how the call quality is--and if you have to plug into your wireless router to improve the transmission.

Now, I think you should try to have a good backdrop when you skype.  As I type this I am staring at my computer screen, looking at my desk.  I've got all my desk accessories, my files and all those things a real desk has.  But when someone will be seeing me through this computer, the view is completely different.  For this reason, when I plan to do a skype call I take the background into consideration.  And with that, I put my computer on my credenza so it is shooting the video into my desk for a backdrop.

Too often when people set up their Skype picture they are either shooting up at the ceiling (with ceiling fan turning, turning, turning during the call)
Or with a big blank wall and too close
Then there is the lighting.  Put on all the lights you can that will hit you from the front instead of behind you (can get quite ghostly--hopefully that's not the look you are going for)
Then, think about how you look. Do you really want to look like you are working from home, or that you happened to stop in to this video conference from your other highly important meetings.

So, now you are dolled up in your blazer, your hair's combed and you have all the lights on in your office. 

Make the call

First, I like to send a message to my interviewee about 10 minutes prior to saying that I will be calling him at our prearranged time.  That let's him know I am getting ready, and that he should be doing likewise. I also say that it will be a video call so he is prepared.  Then close the office door, silence any phones or other electronics and place the video call to him at the correct time.  

As soon as you are hooked up by video, you are "on stage" so remember that.  Don't be messing around with things behind your computer, moving a bunch of papers around or forgetting the camera is on.  I'm not a pro at where to look, so I just look at the person's picture as if I'm talking to him.  My point of focus might be off, but it's better than having your eyes dart all over the screen.  

WineTalent's Skype Pointers 
1.  Don't make jokes.  I have to remember this because I tend to make jokes at the beginning of interviews to break the ice.  On a video call, sometimes there is a bit of a time lag, and so when the other person is responding to the joke you may have moved on to a new topic, making the response really awkward.  Remember this, no jokes.
2.  What am I looking at:  If I'm going to be having his resume on the screen besides the video call, I tell him.  That way he understands why my attention might drift to a different part of the screen.  
3.  What I'm doing:  If I'm planning to take notes while conducting the call, I tell him that too.  I often have my tablet on my desk below the camera, so this could look odd if he didn't know I was taking notes.
4.  Don't forget that you are on stage:  Remember that you are on a video call and not just sitting in front of your computer.  This might seem like a strange idea, but too often when you are skyping you revert back to thinking you are just sitting in front of your computer.  Wiping your eyes, scratching your head, yawning...These are all things we do when we sit in front of our desk, but if we were really in an interview we would most likely not do.  Remember you are on camera, behave appropriately.
5.  Experiencing Technical Difficulties:  If there are any technical problems, you can send a skype message, call the person on his phone, or drop the call and retry.  If the quality of the skype call is bad I often abandon the video interview and switch to a phone interview.  You have the time blocked out, use it wisely.  
6.  Ending the Video Call:  When you are done with the call, thank the other person and let him know you are ending the call.  You'll have to hit the end call button, which always is a bit awkward, but it has to be done.  I often send a quick message afterwards thanking the other participant for the video call.

No comments: