Ph.D. Program in English
Matthew K. Gold (and Jenny Furlong)
October 27, 2017
Skype Interview Tips
The basic elements of a Skype interview are:
- Location and Scheduling
- Internet connection
Before the Interview
Location and Scheduling
- Think carefully about where to sit for your Skype interview. The space behind you should be clean, neatly decorated, and not distracting for the committee. For some, that might mean that you need to do a bit of rearranging to make this space. Try to find a place where you will not be interrupted.
- It’s important that you schedule your Skype interview for a time that works for you (i.e. not in the 45 minutes you have in between classes on a campus where you don’t have a private office. If this situation is unavoidable, talk to a sympathetic faculty member, administrator, or librarian on your campus to see if arrangements can be made for you. If you happen to be teaching on another campus that grants PhDs (NYU, Princeton, Stony Brook, Penn, etc) and find yourself in this situation, you can ask Jenny Furlong or a faculty member, as they are likely to know people who may be able to help you find a space on campus. Career services people tend to be friendly folks who are willing to help.
- Explore the basics of lighting. Face the window so that the light hits your face (though not directly). Use multiple/fill lights if possible. Follow this resource for guidance, but overall pay attention to how and whether light hits your face. https://blogs.skype.com/2013/08/06/light-yourself-like-a-pro-on-video-calls/
- Test your audio. Consider using high-quality earbuds, but make sure that the microphone works well and doesn’t catch strong breathing sounds.
- You will need to be in a place with a strong internet connection for the skype call to work well with video. Be sure to test it beforehand and be sure to do so with the same computer you’ll use for the interview.
- Skype call can easily be dropped. Set up a phone number with the committee before the interview that they can use to reach you in case there is any problem with your (or their) internet connection. If you have to use that back-up plan, do not panic. Calmly get in touch with the committee via phone. They will think only favorably of your grace under pressure.
- Think carefully about what you will wear for your Skype interview and test the outfit out during a practice interview to be sure that it comes off well. Pay attention to colors that work well over video and those that do not work as well (blues may be better than reds; see “New Secrets” article in the resources section for more)
- Practice is key to a successful interview. For a Skype interview, practice is particularly key because you not only need to think about interview performance (what will I say, what will I ask about them), you also have to think about technology performance/setting.
- Considering putting important notes on post-its and stick them to the screen around the Skype window, which will lessen the need to break eye contact.
During the Interview
- Do your best to speak in an engaging way about your research and teaching. You may only have 20 minutes in which to make a good impression. Smile and don’t let the format fluster you.
- It’s natural to look at the screen, but remember that if you want to make eye contact with your interviewers, you need to look at the camera.
- Give full answers, but slightly shorter ones than you might in an in-person interview (though offer to expand on those answers if they’d like). Remember that there may be a lag/delay after you finish and before the committee responds, so allow time for that.
After the Interview
- Send a quick and brief thank you to the chair of the committee thanking all members of the committee for taking the time to interview you.
- Do not read too much into the length of your Skype interview or the reactions of committee members. It’s an odd format over which to interact with people.
The Office of Career Planning and Professional Development can help you practice your Skype interviews. You can call, email, or fill out our appointment request form to schedule something: http://cuny.is/careerplan
How to Light Yourself Like a Prof on Video Calls
5 Tips to a Great Skype Interview
How to Interview on Skype
The New Secrets to Rocking Your Skype Interview
Have other tips? Please leave comments below or in the sidebar
(With thanks to Jenny Furlong, the Officer of Career Planning and Development, and members of my twitter network (Quinn Warwick, Leah Anderst, Estee Beck, and Casey Boyle)