How to Conduct a Skype Interview

Chris Leitch
Chris Leitch

Editor-in-Chief & Résumé Expert

Hiring manager conducting a Skype interview

If you Google ‘Skype interview tips’, you’ll find that the internet is packed with relevant how-to guides and valuable advice aimed at jobseekers. But what about recruiters, especially those who are conducting Skype interviews for the very first time in their career?

Well, ta-dah!

That’s where this little guide comes in: to help recruiters, hiring managers and employers like you conduct (and ace) their first (or millionth) Skype interview, as well as perfect their online recruitment strategies.

1. Schedule the Interview

First things first, once you’ve shortlisted the candidates you’re interested in, send them an email to begin scheduling the interview. Your email should include a selection of available time slots, giving the candidate the opportunity to choose a time when they are free from other responsibilities. But, if they’re unable to make it on any of those days, give them a chance to suggest alternative times and try to be accommodating (where reasonably possible). Make sure to point out correct time zones to avoid any confusion, especially if they’re based abroad!

Once the interview has been confirmed, provide the candidate with all the relevant information, including the names of the interviewers, Skype contact details and the estimated duration of the call. Don’t forget to notify the interviewers, too!

2. Find the Perfect Location

Remember when Professor Robert Kelly’s kids cheekily interrupted his live on air interview with the BBC earlier this year, and his wife frantically tried to remove them from the room? It was unfortunate and hilarious (even Kelly saw the funny side of it later), but it’s situations like those are why jobseekers are advised to choose a quiet, distraction-free location for their video interviews. And, quite unsurprisingly, jobseekers expect the same from employers.

You probably won’t have toddlers barging into your office, but still, a quiet conference room or empty office is essential to conduct any kind of interview. Make sure you hang a ‘Do not disturb’ sign on the door to avoid any unwanted interruptions. You should also check your background and remove any distractions, as well as the lighting.

Talking about distractions, try not to fall prey to on-screen notifications or text messages!

3. Check Your Tech

Before you go online, make sure that everything’s in working order and correctly set up. This includes your camera, microphone and speakers/headphones. You should also check your connection speed. After all, you don’t want to be caught off guard and have to scramble around trying to figure out why the candidate can’t see you.

Since we’re on the topic of technology, be sure you use the company’s Skype account, not your personal one. You should also consider creating a separate account for interviews.

4. Decide How to Handle Unforeseen Disruptions

The internet isn’t the most reliable of places, and Skype itself is no stranger to performance issues and connection problems – meaning, putting a Plan B together is an essential next step in order to handle any unforeseen disruptions. For example, if the internet connection suddenly drops (yours or the candidate’s), you may opt to conduct the rest of the interview over the phone or reschedule the video call at a later time. It’s important that you plan for disruptions beforehand and that you notify the candidate how these disruptions will be handled (preferably in the email you sent them to schedule the interview).

5. Mind Your Body Language

It can be tough trying to build rapport with someone through a screen, so paying extra special attention to your body language can go a long way here. Here are some excellent pointers for you:

  • Smile – but not too much. You really don’t want to freak people out.
  • Make eye contact. You can do this by looking directly at the camera. Try avoid staring at the screen.
  • Sit up straight. This shows that you’re interested in what the candidate is saying.
  • Use non-verbal cues where appropriate, like nodding. This lets the candidate know you’re still listening to them and that you haven’t zoned out.

6. Record the Interview

Consider recording the Skype interview to share with those who couldn’t attend and to get their feedback about the candidate’s potential. It will also help you analyse their answers and overall performance, as well as help you improve your interviewing technique.

If you do decide to record the interview, though, make sure that the candidate’s fully aware they’re being recorded and why. It’s probably a good idea to inform them via email and get written consent. This is especially advisable if you want to avoid any legal consequences.   

7. Look out for Red Flags

When interviewing someone, you’re not only evaluating their candidacy and suitability for the role on offer but also assessing whether they’re really interested in the job. Some red flags to look out for include:

  • The candidate is late. Although they may have a very good excuse, this can show that they might be unreliable in the future, whether that’s turning up to work on time every day or meeting important deadlines.
  • They’re too casual. If they’re treating the interview like any normal Skype call with friends, then rest assured they’re not taking the interview very seriously.
  • They’re taking the call on their bed. Although they’re most likely doing their interview from home, that’s no excuse for them to do the interview in their PJs while still in bed. It’s unprofessional and disrespectful, to say the least.

8. Ask Questions

Whether it’s face-to-face, over the phone or via Skype, an interview’s objective is to help employers evaluate a candidate’s suitability for the role by asking questions related to their skills, experience, qualifications and professional goals, and to address your primary interests or concerns. It’s a good idea to prepare a list of interview questions you’d like to ask the candidate beforehand – but don’t be afraid to go off script if something the candidate says draws your attention.

Example questions to ask candidates include:

  • What attracted you to the job ad? What made you apply?
  • When is the earliest you can start?
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • Why are you leaving your current job?
  • Can you tell me about a challenging situation you faced and how you overcame it? 

9. Let the Candidate Ask Questions, Too

Job interviews should never take the form of an interrogation but, rather, should feel more like a conversation. My point here is that you should give candidates the chance to ask questions about the company and the role itself as much as you’re asking them questions about their skills and experience. After all, the whole point of an interview is to help both parties determine whether they’re a good fit for each other.

10. Provide an Overview of the Next Steps

Before you sign off, it’s a good idea to let the interviewee know what the next steps of your hiring process are (this will, hopefully, avoid candidates bombarding your inbox with hourly emails asking for updates). Take this opportunity to briefly explain things like when a hiring decision will be made, how the successful candidate will be notified, if unsuccessful candidates will be informed and if a reference check will be needed.

Bonus Tip: Test Candidates Online

If you’re conducting a technical interview, you might want to check out Skype’s latest feature called Interviews. It allows you to test candidates in 12 programming languages (including the most popular: C, C++, C#, F#, Go, Java, JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby, Rust and TypeScript) using a real-time code editor while interviewing them via the in-browser Skype call. Simply visit the Skype Interviews website, click ‘Start an interview’ and share the unique link with others to join. You don’t even have to download the Skype app or install plugins!  

Have you ever conducted a Skype interview before? Do you have any tips and tricks you’d like to share with up-and-coming recruiters? Join the conversation down below and let us know!

Don’t forget to check out our list of effective recruitment strategies to help you attract top talent, as well as our comprehensive guide on how to hire the best candidate!