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The Secret to Acing a Skype Interview

As part of the interview process for an ESL teaching position, I recently had a preliminary Skype interview. Before then, I hadn’t really thought much about how I would prepare other than what I had learned based on my previous experience.

This meant making sure my suit was clean and pressed, that the space around me that the interviewer would see looked clean and presentable, researching the company, speaking to past and current employees… you know the drill.

Yes, I did all of those things, of course. But I had never thought about this one tip until a family member and a family member’s work colleague suggested that I do so in order to help prepare.

The secret to acing a Skype interview is recording yourself and watching it back.

I won’t lie and say that I wasn’t nervous. Let’s be real… who likes to watch old home videos of themselves or listen to their voice on an answering machine?

Yeah, that’s what I thought. Nobody.

I will tell you one thing though: despite the initial awkwardness, it was something that I found extremely helpful. It is something that I fully credit with helping me relax as much as I could on the day of the interview.

Here are three things to pay attention to when you record yourself before your Skype interview:

1. You Will See How You Come Across on Camera

Sitting there watching the video I had recorded, I knew that I was (and still am) passionate about this particular position, but it didn’t seem that way on camera. I was sitting stiffly, I would look up as I was gathering my thoughts, or my eyes would drift off even if I thought I was looking straight ahead.

Watching the footage back showed me that I was unconsciously displaying body language that told the invisible interviewer that I wasn’t invested in the position. I wouldn’t have noticed these things if I hadn’t recorded myself and watched myself back.

Becoming aware of these unconscious signals I was sending allowed me to use the time I had between that moment and my scheduled interview to practice body language that corresponded with how I truly felt about the position I was applying for.

I watched the videos as a way to track and correct my body language if I was exhibiting any behaviors that gave off the subtle message that I didn’t care about the position.

Knowing how I came across on camera and consciously working to ensure that my body language reflected how I actually felt allowed me to feel much more prepared and confident when it came to the interview because I knew that although I couldn’t control the recruiter’s thought process, I had worked to correct the nonverbal messages I was sending to ensure that my enthusiasm for the position was apparent through a screen.

When watching yourself back, pay attention to:

  • Your posture: Are you slouching too much? Are you in frame? Are your shoulders back?
  • Where your eyes go: Are you looking away from the camera? Are you looking at the camera as if it were a person? Are you looking down too much? Are you looking up?
  • Your gestures: Hands moving in and out of frame can be distracting — where are yours going? Are you moving around too much? Do you unconsciously touch your hair or face? Do you fuss with pens or papers?

2. You Will See Your Confidence and Find Your Comfortable Positions

While I was researching the company I was applying for, I found a website that listed past candidates’ reviews of their interview experiences. Some of those reviews also included questions that these candidates had been asked.

Practicing potential answers to those questions as I recorded myself on video allowed me to gain confidence because I could make mistakes and determine the best way to answer the question without the pressure of the actual interview.

As a result of the time spent practicing in front of a video camera, I was able to answer the recruiter’s questions concisely on the day of the actual interview.

The time I had spent practicing allowed me to address the interviewer calmly and professionally. Practicing my answers to questions beforehand also allowed me to be respectful of our time and answer questions concisely, which translated to confidence.

At one point, my recruiter asked me to stand and answer her question, which I did. Being aware of my tendencies and mistakes allowed me to correct them in the time leading up to the interview and answer her question with confidence. After I returned to my seat, my recruiter thanked me and mentioned how confident I seemed.

Watching yourself on video can be an awkward thing, much like listening to your voice on an answering machine. However, watching yourself also allows you to see things that you unconsciously do, correct them if necessary, and gain confidence in what you’re saying.

When watching yourself back, pay attention to:

  • Your unconscious movements: What do you do when you aren’t sure how to answer a question? What do you do when the answer is on the tip of your tongue? What do you do when you’re nervous?
  • How you gather your thoughts: Do you pause before you speak? A pause before speaking projects confidence because you are taking a moment to speak with intention and clarity.
  • Your breathing: Is your breath interrupting your speaking? Are you speaking at an easy, breathable pace?

the secret strategy to acing a skype interview

3. You’ll Find Passion in Your Voice

Watching the initial video that I recorded, I didn’t seem that enthusiastic about the position I was up for, even though I knew that I was. I came across as stiff and nervous, which made my already low speaking voice even lower and monotonous.

My nervousness and awareness that I was being judged also made me speak faster than I normally would have.

Recording myself allowed me to practice delivering my answers in a way that allowed my enthusiasm for the position to come across by raising my voice and getting comfortable with speaking in a higher register and more enthusiastic tone, which contributed to my overall confidence on the day of the interview.

When watching yourself back, pay attention to:

  • Your tone and pitch: Are you too monotonous or do you seem genuinely enthused? Is your voice too loud?
  • Your speed: Are you speaking too quickly? Too slowly?
  • Your projection: Are you speaking clearly? Are you easy to hear? Is there distracting noise in the background?

Skype interviews can be a very daunting thing, especially because each interview will be different. However, there are many things that you can do in advance to prepare.

Recording yourself on video in order to get ready may not work for everyone, but it certainly can’t hurt you to try it as part of your preparation process.


About the Author

Alisa Tanaka

Alisa Tanaka graduated with a Communications degree from Lewis & Clark College in 2012. She hopes to develop a career that allows her to make a measurable impact on the world while doing something that she loves. Her interests include psychology, linguistics, and mental health. She can also be found reading, watching documentaries, and writing her blog.


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