There’s no denying that online interviews are taking over the recruitment process. And architecture is no exception.
More so, with the pandemic maintaining its grip worldwide, Skype interviews are steadily replacing walk-in interviews altogether. Naturally, this can lead to a lot of confusion and nervousness in potential employees.
How do I prepare? Where do I place the laptop? Do I look at the screen or the camera? These are some questions that may pop-up in your mind upon receiving the interview call letter. And so that you don’t have to browse numerous websites for guidance, we’ve compiled an extensive guide to help you gear up for the big day.
So, let’s begin, shall we?
How To Ace A Skype Architecture Job Interview
- How To Ace A Skype Architecture Job Interview
- The Preparation
- The Execution
To simplify things, potential candidates may think of an online interview as the more tech-oriented version of an in-person interview. A significant advantage of doing so is that you won’t find any excuse to leave out the preparation part. Long story short, a Skype interview requires just as much preparation as its in-person counterpart. So, let’s look at the steps that ensure a foolproof preparation.
Do Your Research
This is a step that we feel candidates should undertake even before applying for the post. But if you have skipped it back then or undertaken superficial research, now is the time to dive in deeper. First and foremost, check the company’s website for all relevant information like years of operation, departments, portfolio, client reviews, etc.
Next, move on to the social media profiles. This will give you a better idea of the company’s culture and other non-work-based gigs. If time permits, contact a few current or former employees to get the hang of things. After all, nothing beats first-hand experience insights, right?
Conduct A Mock Interview Session
Like you’d do for an in-person interview, practicing with a few mock sessions will help you hold your nerves on the big day. In case you’re enrolled in a career center, request your mentors to conduct preparatory online interviews. Since you’re likely to appear a little different on the screen than what you’d in person, obtain necessary feedback to improve your appearance.
Alternatively, you may also ask your friends to do the same. And if they don’t have an architectural background, list down the probable questions and answers, and hand them out. Then, see if you have answered them correctly. It’s a good way to brush-up on your skills without allocating extra time for theoretical revision.
Another thing to keep in mind is that while you’re on screen, look directly into the camera and not towards yourself or the employer. In this case, think of the web camera as your interviewer’s ‘eye’.
Test The Equipment
Technical glitches are an inevitable part of online interviews, and you’d want to make sure that everything is perfect from your end. For this, test the webcam and microphone multiple times. We’d suggest investing in a good quality web camera as most laptops come with inferior quality built-in cameras. Similarly, check the audio port and make sure that the sound is clear.
If you’re using wired earphones, we’d recommend getting a tie clip to secure the mic to your shirt so that there are no disturbances. Likewise, ensure that the wireless earbuds have the perfect angle to catch your voice smoothly.
Decide On The Location
Although you’d want to go ahead with the interview from the comfort of your home, no company will postpone the date because your noisy cousins are in for the holiday. So, make sure that your home is actually suitable for the interview. And the first thing to take care of is silence.
Inform the other members of the house in advance, and hope for their cooperation. If not, look out for other spaces.
Depending on your city, you may rent a meeting room by the hour for the interview. Since they are designed exclusively for the purpose, there are almost no chances of disturbance. That said, they may become quite expensive if the interview runs for long. And if the room doesn’t have its tech-setup, poor internet connectivity can cause difficulties. So, check with the facility well in advance.
Another risky option is to take the interview from your current office, but not from your highly visible cubicle. If possible, use the meeting room with a ‘meeting in progress’ sign so that no one enters unannounced.
If the above-mentioned locations don’t make the cut, you can also try out a cafe. But since it’s not about having the best coffee in town, choose the lowest-rated cafe as it’s likely to have fewer customers than usual. Also, don’t rely on their free Wifi; carry your back-up for good.
Prepare Your Surroundings
If you are taking the interview from home, choose a room with minimum sound intake. Next, pick a background like an empty wall or window that will create no distractions. If the window is road-facing, make sure to draw the curtains. Be wary of too much backlight as it can make you look like a silhouette.
Beyond that, it’s also important to pay attention to the lighting. Try to sit at an angle that receives the maximum natural light and minimize reflections on the screen.
Create The Setup
Once you have made enough arrangements for the surroundings, the next step is to create a proper setup. Make sure that the screen has just the right elevation for you to look into the camera without too much neck bending.
As a thumb rule, you can align the lower edge of the screen’s frame with the third button of your dress. Similarly, the top of the frame should sit at a height equivalent to the width of your hand above the head.
Get Accustomed With The Software
Although most video-calling apps don’t have a complicated operation, nervousness may make you fumble. So, it’s better to walk through the menus and tools.
If you’re required to use screen sharing during the interview, ensure that you keep the related window minimized. Also, keep your desktops free from clutter and turn off notifications. Your employer may not like getting distracted by a Facebook notification.
Keep Your Outfit Ready
In dressing for your Skype interview, make sure you don’t overdo it by wearing a lot of unnecessary layers. If your room isn’t cold enough to put on a blazer, go for a full-sleeve solid color shirt, and unbutton down the first two buttons. Also, don’t ignore dressing from down the waist. You may need to stand up in between with your sweatpants on display, which is a big no-no. Iron the dress to get rid of all visible creases.
While men should keep their hair and beard trimmed and combed, female candidates must tie their hair neatly or straighten it a bit to look clean. Besides, don’t opt for heavy makeup just because you’re not there in-person.
Check For The Employer Name On Skype
Instead of finding the username to connect just a few minutes before the interview, find it a day before and note it down. This will ensure you don’t slip into nervousness on not finding the employer at the time of the interview.
Send In The PDFs
Be it your resume or work portfolio, it’s always advisable to send in a PDF for communicating every piece of information that the employer might need. As we’ve already mentioned, technical glitches can affect the process, and screen sharing might not yield satisfactory results. In that case, you can request the interviewer to refer to the document.
You may also keep a small note handy that’ll act as an index. Hence, you’d know the exact contents on each page.
Shutdown Prompting Devices
The last thing you’d want during the interview is for your alarm to go off. Thus, take special care to ensure that all of them are switched off before you begin. Switch off TVs, music players and keep the phone on DND. Close all doors and windows to prevent as much sound as possible.
If you have pets, shift them to a room that’s adequately far from the room you’re in. A better option would be to ask your friends or neighbors to take care of them for the time being.
Now that you’ve an understanding of the preparation, let’s check out the know-hows of the perfect execution.
Keep A Positive Vibe
Just because your potential employer isn’t physically across the table, it doesn’t mean that he/she cannot sense your vibe. Maintain an optimistic approach without coming across as over smart. Be upbeat, but make sure you aren’t cutting off the person in a bid to showcase your energy.
A virtual wall brings about its own set of communication challenges. Hence, make sure your words are clear and articulate. Don’t get into a rush or eat your words to complete a sentence. Avoid repeating breaks like ‘ummm’, ‘you know’, and ‘literally’. This can convey a sense of uncertainty to your potential employer. Also, don’t move around in the chair subconsciously while speaking.
Respect The Delayed Feed
Since there might be a small delay in the video and audio feed, make sure you give the employer enough time to complete his comment. Otherwise, you can end up starting and stopping every other sentence awkwardly.
Keep reminding yourself (without losing focus) that this is a serious job interview. Pay attention to everything the employer says, no matter how stretchy or unnecessary it may be.
Moreover, you can also convey a sense of ‘active listening’ by giving your interviewer periodic clues about your presence. For instance, you can interject listening sounds like ‘hm’, ‘yes’, or ‘I get it’ while the person is speaking. But again, make sure you’re not cutting him off.
Never tap on the table or play with your phone to kill time when the interviewers are engaged in the side conversation. Keep track of where the conversation halted so that you can jump right back in. The interviewer may often purposely ask you about the pause point to gauge your level of attention.
Keep References Notes
Make a note of key points and keep it near the laptop, but not in a way that’s visible to the interviewer. Don’t rely on them to answer the questions, as the interview may catch you looking frequently at a particular direction. Cast an occasional quick glance if required.
Additionally, sticky notes can be used to list down the questions or concerns that you might want to address post-interview.
Report Any Tech Problem Immediately
Don’t be nervous if you get disrupted feed despite setting up the connection to your best of abilities, for there may be glitches from the employer’s side as well. If you didn’t hear the interviewer the first time around, a simple ‘can you please come again?’ will do the job.
But if you find yourself asking him to repeat every question, bring up the problem of poor audio feed. We’re sure you wouldn’t want to ruin your chances by answering incorrectly!
Taking an online interview doesn’t mean you have to keep an ear-to-ear grin all the time, but it shouldn’t make you grumpy either. Just smile as much as you would in a walk-in interview, greeting your interviewers with a pleasant smile at the beginning and end.
We hope our detailed guide has eased your troubles and solved your doubts about the anticipated Skype interview.
Remember that online interviews are nothing but a virtual variation of the walk-in ones, so don’t take any undue pressure. Sure, getting the setup right may be an added hassle, but nothing that can’t be dealt with.
This brings us to the end of our guide, but we want to leave you with a couple of pro tips for extra assistance. First, keep checking the mic and webcam frequently. Second, place a picture of a loved one just beside the web camera if you feel too nervous to stare into the interviewer’s virtual eye. This will keep you more comfortable.
We sign off with best wishes. See you again!