During the last decade I have done multiple skype interviews with potential PhD students and postdocs. I have seen an astonishing variety of strange behaviours (and did several of these mistakes myself).
1. Do not use a suspicious skype name
If you do a job interview you should not use a skype name which elicits funny or unfavourable ideas about you. “Partyanimal99” may let the interviewer question how serious you take the job, “bigdude69” may provoke dirty jokes and “Johntherebel” may raise some doubts about your motivation to integrate into a team. I changed these skype names slightly to protect the privacy of the candidates.
2. Do not expect skype to work
In my experience every second skype interview suffers from technical problems. The favourite problem is that the microphone does not work. Sometimes it is sufficient to switch off the automatic microphone configuration in the options menu. In other cases you need a different microphone. You should test it with a friend. Take also care that you do not sound like a robot or that you do not have to shout to be heard. In my experience this kills any good atmosphere. Be prepared and have your telephone number at hand and kindly ask to be called or call the interviewers yourself (maybe expensive). Turn down the microphone and the speakers to avoid an echo and other sound effects. This creates a professional impression and allows the interviewers to see you in skype while being on the phone.
3. Do not forget to set the stage
A classical mistake is to forget the background. When sitting in front of a window your face will be dark and difficult to see because there is too much light in the background. In general, there should be enough light to see you well. You should also take care that you are not surrounded by rubbish, a chaotic work place, a dead potted plant, posters of scarcely dressed persons or other aspects of your life which should not disturb the first impression you want to make. Also avoid noisy environments such as internet cafes or Starbucks. There is debate among my colleagues whether you should use a neutral and professional background or a more personal background which may make a warmer impression.
4. Do not lean forward during a skype interview
If you move your face too much towards the camera your face inevitably gets distorted and you look like a disfigured monster. In addition, every tiny skin irregularity becomes grotesquely enlarged. This is great to amuse children but normally does not help to get a job.
5. Do not wear unfavourable clothes during a skype interview
This is a classical mistake I have done myself several times (fortunately only during informal conversations). Although you expect that the other person cannot see whether you are wearing business trousers or just underwear there is always the possibility that you have to stand up to get some file, stop the cat from eating your money or your baby from climbing into the dishwasher (these things happened to me). Thus, always dress completely and in an appropriate way.
Please tell us about your experiences and add a comment.
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