Skype interview guide for contractors – top tips

Skype got a boost in the contractor sector when Right to Work checks came in for brolly users, but such video call conferencing software had already become a staple of contractor interviews by then. Today, in 2016, it’s like it was never new, writes Sinead Hasson, managing director of recruitment firm Hasson Associates.

There are other VoIP providers of course but, forget brand, because the technology is being used more and more to vet potential contract hires. It’s taking over at companies that are seeking contractors at unreasonably short notice who can ‘hit the ground running.’

These companies want to know that they are hiring the right contractor with the right skills, but they also want to minimise the time spent on such a decision. In return, you the candidate get to know very quickly if you want to take on the project. And if you do, then the process remains efficient -- a Skype interview could take place one day and you can be put to work the next.

But just like traditional, in-person IT contractor interviews, there’s certain ‘must-dos’ when using Skype and the likes of to secure a contract. Six that candidates we place swear by are: 

1. Sort out the logistics first and do a walkthrough

So think about the background, lighting and the position of the webcam. Make sure the camera is positioned close enough to your face so that you can make eye contact and the other person can see your facial expression.

Then, cover up that provocative music poster and lock any doors behind you. Similarly, unwanted or surprise noises, such as from spam filter warnings, should also be guarded against.

2. Be extra considerate if it’s international 

When there’s a time difference between you and the interviewer, think about what time would suit both of you best depending on deadline, likely work patterns and ‘extracurricular’ factors. So don’t choose a time when your children are just home from school, or if it’s late for them and then likely to be grouchy. Find a good time for both parties when you can focus and when it’s not too late -- or early.

3. ‘Gis a job’ is calling 

If your username or picture is something that a 15-year-old will find funny, or is inappropriate for a professional job interview, change it.

4. First impressions count

Dress appropriately from top to bottom. After all, you may have to stand up! Look presentable even if you originally claimed not to have a webcam to hand; the pressure to plug one in could overtake you!  And once on the call, pay attention to your posture – don’t slouch, or show off your chair’s recliner function.

5. Take any prep time

Even if you’ve done steps 1-4, above, don’t let on that you have. Recruiters or hiring managers should start off the interview by setting the agenda and allowing some time for you to get comfortable with the technology and interaction. Even if you’ve nothing to do (because you’d done all the ‘getting comfortable’ you could possibly do), try to accept the time; even if it’s just to lose any last-minute nerves, brush up on your opening salvo or set your status to ‘Away’ so your other contacts don’t bother you.

6. Being always-on

Also regarding the status drop-down menu, consider using it to set Skype ‘on’ – even if it is set to ‘Not Available’, immediately before and after the interview. Remember, this way the interviewer can always IM you. Also, for a consistency of approach, be sure to include your Skype username (once you’ve taken Step 3 and sanitised it) at the bottom of your email signatures. A potential client may want to follow-up with you.

Final thoughts

Stick to these six steps and, by and large, you should be effective on Facetime, Skype, Tango and the like. Do keep in mind though -- a conversation using device-to-device video calling software may sometimes seem a little flat. Background noise and people unfamiliar with the technology won’t help. Being personable but professional will.  

What must not be forgotten when using Skype, and what contractors too busy to read steps 1-6 should act on is this: the key to unlocking interview success on Skype is to conduct the call as you would a physical, in-person meeting. Good luck! 

Thursday 16th June 2016