Skype Interviews: How to Ace the Candidate Experience in a Video Call

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These tips will help you lead a productive video interview and create the best possible candidate experience – while avoiding potential pitfalls.

Woman smiling as she interviews someone over Skype

As a hiring manager, sometimes your candidates can’t be interviewed in person. Maybe they currently live across the country. Maybe you’re hiring for a remote team. Maybe the role would be based in a different city. Maybe you don’t have the budget to fly your candidate out. A video interview is clearly the solution. But the medium comes with its own unique set of best practices, potential pitfalls, and etiquette.

These 11 tips will help you lead a productive interview and create the best possible candidate experience:

1. Pick a candidate-friendly platform.

If you have a choice – meaning you’re not limited to a particular I.T.-approved video-conferencing tool – pick Skype, which has more than 600 million users worldwide. It’s ubiquitous and likely familiar to the interviewee. Google Hangouts is also popular and a good choice if the candidate uses a Gmail email address. Or, you can go with dead-easy-to-use, which allows you to create a video chat room and share the link with anybody. Whatever you choose, favor a platform the candidate is already familiar with and that minimizes the need to download, install and setup new software.

2. Use a company account, not a personal one

Have a separate company-named or careers Skype account, says veteran recruiter and Recruiting Social founder Chad MacRae: “By using a company-owned account, candidates aren’t able to message you directly like they could on your personal account.” If an account needs to be created, get your colleagues in Recruiting to set it up – saves you the trouble, and they should own the account so other managers can use it when they need to do video call interviews, too.

3. Make sure usernames, call links or other contact details are shared in advance

Sounds obvious, but avoid the last-second scramble to find out the candidate’s contact details, like their Skype username. If a recruiter or recruitment coordinator is helping schedule the interview, get them to add the candidate’s contact to the company account beforehand, so you don’t have to.

4. Dress in a camera-friendly outfit

Video-call picture quality? Not always the greatest. Clothing, in particular, can cause weird anomalies and distractions. Assemble your outfit to follow on-camera best practices: avoid, white, black, shiny or vibrantly patterned clothing, and consider what you will look like when cropped to just your head and shoulders.

5. Control your setting

Set yourself up in a location that will minimize interruptions. You don’t want chatty coworkers disrupting your interview. The office kitchen? A crowded coffee shop? Mmm, probably not the best choices. An empty meeting room Your office with the door shut? Much better. Backdrop and lighting are important, too. Don’t sit with a light source like a window behind, because the light might obscure your face. And make sure, wherever you set yourself up, your surroundings are tidy. Oh! Oh! And: make sure you have a good Wifi connection! You don’t want to get cut off by a poor signal.

6. Wear headphones

Audio quality is more important than video quality; low-quality sound creates stronger negative impressions than low-quality video. Make sure your candidate can hear you clearly. Make sure you can hear the candidate clearly! Wear a headset, earbuds or headphones.

7. Be on time, or even a couple minutes early

You’d probably decline a candidate who is late for their interview. Treat them with the same courtesy and respect you expect: show up on time. This is a critical part of creating a good candidate experience. And because video calls are susceptible to technical glitches, you might even want to log on a minute or two early to make sure everything is working correctly.

8. Plan your opening line

Let’s not pretend that talking with a face on a computer screen isn’t slightly unnatural. To help avoid an awkward start to your call, plan your greeting in advance. In fact, it might even help to write it down (just don’t let the interviewee think you’re reading a script!).

9. Maintain eye contact like you’re talking in person

Luckily, Skype makes this easy with its eye-tracking technology. But remember that just because you’re staring at a screen, there’s a person on the other side – normal social cues and body language are still important.

10. Do not – repeat, do not – fall prey to notifications, instant messages, or other on-screen distractions

Remember, the candidate can see you. If you get distracted by the myriad of notifications that can pop up, they’ll see it in your eye movements. Shut down Slack or whatever other internal communication channels your team uses. Close out potentially distracting tabs in your web browser. Put your phone and computer on Do Not Disturb. Don’t let impulsive behaviors waste your interview and risk wrecking the impression you give the candidate!

11. Make the most of the visual medium

Watch the candidate’s body language. Notice if, like you, they’ve taken the time and made the effort to prepare for the call. Make the most of the opportunities a video interview allows to assess the candidate as a potential hire.

Christian De Pape, Recruiting Social’s Head of Marketing and Content
About the author

Christian De Pape is the head of brand experience at Recruiting Social. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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