Interview Nightmares: Scary Skype Edition
As a recruiting and staffing firm that has been around for more than twenty years, we thought we have seen and heard it all. But, with advancements in technology come more opportunities for us to sit back and shake our heads, wondering “What were they thinking?” While the use of Skype, and similar platforms, has changed the way many companies conduct interviews, there are still best practices to follow. This Halloween we’re sharing some of our most skin crawling Skype stories to help you avoid starring in your own virtual horror story so you can make a great first impression.
Sometimes, when we interview potential candidates, strangers – and strange things – appear. They float in and out of the frame haunting what could have been successful interviews. We’ve seen everyone from children and nannies, to half-dressed relatives and roommates. We’ve even seen cats on keyboards, worn as neck warmers, and sitting on laps during interviews. While most of these intruders are more cute than scary, it’s best they do their lurking elsewhere while you interview. You don’t want Whiskers or Uncle Buck stealing the interviewer’s attention after all!
Unless your house is full of ghosts there shouldn’t be any background noise during an interview. We’ve heard it all: roommates or family members watching TV or listening to music, children and pets running around, and crowds in coffee shops. When participating in a Skype interview it’s best to go into a quiet room and close the door. Believe it or not, some people even talk to us while driving in a car, which is not only full of ambient sounds but is potentially dangerous.
Candidates often take us on journeys during interviews, but not always through their career history. One time, someone took us down a dark corridor and into a mysterious stairwell – all while Skyping with us – that led to an equally dark basement, which is an ideal venue if you’re interviewing with the House of Horrors. Another, less frightening, time, a candidate’s camera vibrated and moved around the entire time. We were sure the place was haunted but, as it turned out, it was just an ill-placed fan.
Follow these tips and tricks to avoid spooking a potential employer!
• Never conduct interviews in a room with other people, or at a noisy coffee shop where you, or the interviewer, can be easily distracted.
• This one goes without saying but don’t Skype in a room where not everyone is fully dressed.
• Do you best to make arrangements for children and pets during your interview, all that cuteness can easily side track an interview.
• For the record, it’s bad form to interview from a conference room at your current job.
• Your laptop should be positioned on a stable surface, preferably a desk, and make sure you can see yourself so you know how you look through the webcam. No one wants to stare at your forehead the whole time or at a ghost because of bad lighting. Sometimes your phone is the only option, when that happens, find a way to secure the phone so that you aren’t holding it. It is distracting when our view of you is bouncing around or we’re suddenly looking at the ceiling.
• You may have been Ron Burgundy for Halloween but that doesn’t mean the wardrobe rules at the news desk apply to your interview, so make sure your lower half is just as professional as the top. A good rule of thumb is to always dress for your interview as if you were going there in person. We speak from experience having seen a few terrifying things when candidates stand up mid-skype interview – trust us, you don’t want to know.
• Remember to sit up straight and make sure you don’t have spinach in your teeth.
• This isn’t Dancing with the Stars. Make sure your profile picture on Skype is professional and doesn’t include you, scantily clad, and a pole. We’re just saying…
This article from The Muse reminds job seekers to have a stable internet connection and to position themselves in a room with minimal background noise. They also recommend having your supporting documents prepared ahead of time and open on your desktop. These would include your resume, cover letter and portfolio. For technical recommendations, follow these best practices from Skype.