One of the best ways of traveling and seeing a new country is no doubt working abroad. Sure there’s plenty of other ways like backpacking, studying or volunteering abroad, but I love working abroad because it not only exposes you to so much cultural aspects of a country and helps to finance your stay (and weekend trips!), but also it’s great to have on your resume and lets you build your career despite moving around to different countries.
Some people worry that travel might strain their career opportunities later on in life, but I think quite the opposite. I think it’s great having international work experience on your resume to really set yourself apart from your competition. As much as I love travelling, I feel like life is unfulfilling without having a successful career, so why not have the best of both worlds?
Before landing your perfect, wonderfully exotic job though, there’s of course the application process, and the interviews. For those familiar with working abroad, then you already know this consists of lots of Skype interviews.
For some, Skype interviews are great! It’s not everyday you get to talk to your potential boss while still being in your underwear from waist down. For others, Skype interviews can be pretty dreadful. I definitely used to fall into the latter way of thinking – I’m great with in-person interviews but when it comes to Skype interviews, I’ve definitely had some embarrassing and awkward first few attempts at them.
There’s just something about being at your own house and talking to this moving kind of blurry person on your computer that I had a hard time overcoming the casualness of it all.
Not to mention, before there was that option to turn off the little video of myself, I would find it super distracting. It would cause me to forget my sentences halfway through, forcing me to come up with whatever I can think of to say in my mini moment of crisis so that there’s no awkward silence, only to make the situation worse and have the employer probably thinking in their head what excuse they can come up with to end this interview with a crazy woman.
Luckily, I’ve gotten much better at Skype interviews since then and am quite happy with my success rate with them nowadays.
For those of you new to Skype interviews as well, here’s 10 tips to help you land your next dream job!
1. Practice, practice. practice beforehand!
Never underestimate how different a Skype interview can be from an in-person one. Try practicing over Skype with a friend or family member and that way they can tell you how you’re presenting yourself from their computer screen. E.g. Are you looking at the camera? Can they see up your nostrils? Are you talking loud enough?
2. Dress as if you’re going to an in-person interview
Skype interviews can feel all too casual since it’s done at home. Since interviewers rarely ever see anything below your waist, some people opt to go sans pants in favour of comfort. However for Skype interviews, I like to get dressed from head to toe – down to the shoes. I feel like it really gets me in the vibe.
Plus, there has been horror stories about people getting up unexpectedly and accidentally flashing their underwear at the interviewer. Wouldn’t it suck to lose your dream job over your Hello Kitty or Spiderman undies? Don’t be that person!
3. Construct your setting
While you want to make sure you look your best, it’s good to pay attention to whats behind you that might make an appearance in your webcam that your interviewer can see. While a framed Harvard diploma for example may look great as a backdrop (seeing that you actually went there of and you’re not just pulling a Mike Ross), a poster of a model in a bikini might not make the best first impressions (unless of course you’re applying for Sports Illustrated!).
In general though, a plain white wall makes for the best backdrop. It’s simple, clean, not distracting, and best of all, we all have a wall in our house! (hopefully).
4. Make sure your Skype profile is professional
Some generalities: don’t use your Skype account from high school with a username like xoxsexiii-baby123 and make sure your profile picture isn’t from a party in Vegas. Keep it professional and make a new account even dedicated for interviews – it only takes a few seconds to do!
5. Play around with photo booth and lighting
One thing I always do before Skyping is to turn on Photo Booth and examine how I look. Sometimes you can look great in person, but the wrong lighting or angle can make you appear to harsh or too faded. Take time to position your computer in different spots around the house until you find the best lighting!
6. Be calm if technical problems arise
It can happen to anyone so if the screen freezes or the audio cuts out, don’t panic or curse even if you’re freaking out in your head. Employers can see it as a test to see how you do under a stressful situation, so stay calm. Simply let them know you’ll try re-calling or restart your computer.
7. Make sure other windows and programs on your computer are closed
Everyone knows the sound Facebook makes when you get a new message. In fact, you probably hear it more than the sound of your mom. Therefore, it can be extremely embarrassing if that little tell-tale “ping” goes off during your interview because your friend just sent you a link to the latest “10 signs you’re Canadian” article from Buzzfeed.
Plus, even if you weren’t, your interviewer might think you were talking to someone on Facebook during the interview!
8. Have notes and your resume handy
One of the main advantages of Skype interviews is that you can have “cheat” notes in front of you, such as your resume or answers to difficult questions. They’re good to have for reference but also make sure you’re not heavily relying in them in case you sound like you’re reading from a script.
9. Make a presence
Since you’re not physically in the room with your interviewer, I feel like you always have to try extra hard to be memorable (especially of the interviewer is also conducting in-person interviews as well!). Sometimes you have to be a bit over enthusatic or use more hand gestures than you would normally to make sure that things that you talk about, such as your passions, show through. At the same time, don’t over do it of course or else you might come across unnatural or fake!
10. Don’t be afraid to admit that it’s your first Skype interview
If it’s your first, let your interviewer know that and they’ll usually be more forgiving. They’ll understand that you might be nervous and they’ll know that as you talk to them staring at the ceiling, your actual intent is to look at them in the eyes but haven’t figured out how to yet. Luckily first time Skype interviews aren’t painful (like the first time I rode a bike, I crashed into a giant mailbox and got a bloody knee) – well at least not physically!
I hope these tips will help you guys prepare for your next Skype interview.
Go out there and nail it!