No Need to Come In, We’ll Just Dial You Up

When the International Seabed Authority based in Kingston, Jamaica, posted an editor’s position for their online and print publications, writer Denise Campbell Laidler applied. The intercontinental agency affiliated with the United Nations expressed interest in interviewing Campbell Laidler–through Skype, an online tool that allows parties who subscribe to the service to talk or video conference anywhere in the world.

For Campbell Laidler, this would be a first. “I already had an account,” she explains, “but was not at all sure what to expect in the interview process.” Already anxious about how she would present in this techno forum, she was further concerned that the interview would be conducted by an international panel of six people. “I was informed of the format by their HR person as we were about to conduct the interview. They all introduced themselves and their positions, and I was told that the interview would cover my skill set, technical aspects of the job, and examine how adept I was at working with people from all over the world.” The experience she recalls was unnerving.

Marlon Cousin, managing partner of The Marquin Group, an executive recruiting firm in Atlanta, says that panel interviews on Skype are quite common and although he’s found such interviews to be rare with American companies, they are becoming the norm with global firms because of the cost factor. “You have to be prepared, particularly if you are doing international business, to Skype and have the equipment toSkype.”

Cousin offers several tips on how to give your best interview using the tool:
Approach it like any other interview Dress appropriately and pay special attention to your grooming, says Cousin. “It’s an on-camera interview, so you want to make sure that you come across looking your best. Consider colors and suit cuts that best flatter you. It’s on Skype because they want to see you. It’s critical to manage your visual presentation.”

Be in a professional setting.
“If possible, arrange to conduct the interview in an office. If it’s a home office setting make sure to eliminate all possible distractions, including children. Also, you can Skype from your smartphone, but I recommend that you don’t.”

Check the technology.
Make sure your connections and subscriptions are current and functioning well in advance of the interview. Cousin had a candidate who missed an appointment because he didn’t realize his subscription had expired. Although the service is free, there are other functions that cost. You should be clear on the function that will be used during the interview.

Use a support sheet.

“Have notes in front of you behind the computer, so that you are still focused on the video camera. This will help you in getting your thoughts and critical points across.”

Connect with everyone.
Make note of each panelist’s name. “One thing you do lose in a teleconference or Skype setting is that one-on-one engagement. A panelist can easily get disconnected from just seeing an image on a screen and hearing the voice over the system. Address everyone: ‘OK Tom, what do you think about this?’  Now Tom looks up and is engaged.”