A Guide to Creating a Professional Setting for Skype Interviews

by Rich DeMatteo on September 30, 2010 · 8 comments

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You’ve interviewed at least a dozen times before.  You’ve dazzled interviewers, hiring managers, and recruiters with your charm and slick answers.  Simply put, you’re a confident son of a bitch and you know that you’ll walk into any interview and leave with an offer.

Hold up a second, boss, we have a tiny problem.  Your next interview is being conducted on Skype, and you aren’t ‘walking’ in anywhere.  Instead, you’ll need to welcome your interviewer, hiring manager, and recruiter into your own home.  How do you do it?

The key is professionalism and remembering that in this situation, less is definitely more.  Here are things to conside:

What’s in the background?

  • Your bed shouldn’t be the main focus in the background.  Neither should your bathroom.  Interviewing should never be about your personal life, so your interviewer doesn’t need to see where you sleep, or where you read the newspaper.  Cool?
  • If possible, sit somewhere near a blank wall.  A white wall is best, but any will do.  If covered in wall paper, just make sure it’s not something embarrassing.
  • Pictures are OK.  Just make sure it’s nothing too personal, like one of you kissing your significant other.
  • A TV in the background is OK, but turn it off.  Oprah doesn’t need to accompany you on your Marketing Communications interview.
  • A chair.  Some chairs are so big that they may take up the whole background. Don’t sit on a couch, don’t sit on a bean bag chair, and don’t sit on your friend.  Just a chair.

Is your interviewing room clean?

  • Depending on your life situation, there are a number of items that could litter your floors and counters.  That list includes beer bottles, toys, undies and other clothes, random pets, and food.  Make sure to tidy up and look incredibly clean – even if you’re not.
  • Do you need to vacuum?  Probably not.  Don’t go nuts, just pick up the big things.

Are you the only living object in view?

  • Hey, you might be 27 and living at home with your parents, but your interviewer doesn’t need to know that.  If you live at home, let your family know what’s going on, and insist that they stay on the opposite side of the house, or even on a different floor during the scheduled time of your interview.
  • Maybe you have kids.  If so, get a baby sitter for an hour or two and make sure that the only crying during the interview is from an extremely happy interviewer after you impress the hell out of them.
  • Pets need to be out of view.  Keep your dog, cat, or ferret in a cage in another room.

Do you look the part?

  • You may not need to wear a full suit, but look good to feel good.
  • Don’t risk it, wear nice pants.  Something may happen that requires you to stand up.  Maybe you’ll forget something, or they’ll ask you to go get a piece of paper.  It would be awful to have to show that you’re wearing beat up sweat pants or boxers during the interview.
  • Groom yourself.  Go get a haircut, trim your beard, clip your finger nails…the works.

Will it be quiet?

  • Silence your cell phone.  Enough said.
  • Silence your land line.  You can flip the switch over and mute your landline.  If possible, keep a hand set close enough so you can check caller ID, in case you do get some sort of emergency call on your land line.
  • Already talked about this, but make sure other people are pretty much no where to be found
  • Put a note up on your front door that asks neighbors to refrain from ringing the door bell.  Too much?

It’s a completely different game when you bring the company to your house for the interview.  Follow the guideline up above, and let your natural suave interviewing skills take over.  You’ll do just fine, partner.

Have you ever had to interview via live video?  What was your experience?  What was in your background and your interviewers background?

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Keith McIlvaine
Keith McIlvaine

This is still a great post Rich. I have used it countless times as a how-to or reminder for candidates before a video interview. Nice work!

Nate Shannon
Nate Shannon

I found the college diploma as the lone item in the backdrop to look good. Good piece!

Anita AKA The Social Media Mulan
Anita AKA The Social Media Mulan

I appreciated this tweet! I have plans to do some interviewing via Skype and your suggestions were just a great reminder. Thanks! Love your blog too! :)

Miriam Salpeter, Keppie Careers
Miriam Salpeter, Keppie Careers

All great advice! Back in the day (before Skype), I remember having a phone interview where my cat (same LOUD cat I have now) decided to share her 2 cents. I was living in an apartment where there weren't enough doors or walls to put between us. I had to mention that my cat was carrying on in the background so they didn't think it was a baby screaming! (Luckily, there were several cat people on the interview committee, and I wound up with that job, anyway!) It certainly takes a lot more thinking and preparation when visuals are involved! Since Skype is readily accessible, it might be a good idea to practice - with a friend or a coach - before the interview. Check the lighting -- does your friend think you look green? Maybe bring in a different lamp. How do you sound? How about your body language? Lots to consider! All of this preparation should help make job seekers confident and result in a great interview!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Miriam, Thanks for the comment! I like your ideas tha tyou added on practicing. Perfect additions. Preparation is key!