Trend Alert: Skype Your Way to a New Job

interviewThe next time you're suiting up for a big job interview, you may not have to leave your house. A growing trend that saves time and resources for everyone involved is the webcam interview. That's right, video chat is no longer just for keeping up with your cross-country grandkids or your military spouse.


It worked for Emily Widle of Clemmons, NC. The UNC-Chapel Hill senior submitted a resume to Pegasus Associates Lighting in western Pennsylvania while on her winter break. The 12-employee company requested a Skype interview, which lead to a job offer. Widle has since started working for Pegasus as an e-commerce marketing and technology specialist–months before her expected May graduation.

Carin Galetta, president of San Francisco-based social media firm Ink Foundry, took the idea of a web interview to a new level. The most recent job listing for the company, for a paid intern position, required the submission of a video resume. Where Galetta would normally have received hundreds of resumes, just 12 landed in her inbox.

Candidates posted their videos on YouTube. Ink Foundry chose the top three and the position will go, "American Idol"-style, to the candidate with the most votes. "For a kid just starting their career it's a great opportunity to show a potential employer your initiative and provide some exposure to other agencies looking to make an entry level hire," says Galetta. "A couple of agencies have expressed interest in the candidates. I may have to fight my competitors off!"

Don't Wear Your Pajamas

Interviewing via webcam requires some unique preparation. Garrett Glaser, president of Glaser Media, LLC, prepares corporate executives for media interviews. Many of the skills and tricks he teaches are the same ones job candidates need to come off well in web interviews.

Glaser recommends wearing solid, dark colors with one bright accent. While you're looking forward into the camera, remember that your interviewer sees what's behind you. "It sends non-verbal cues to the potential employer," says Glaser. "A bookcase is a good idea. You don't want it to look like a law firm but a produced background is good if it's not overdone." But make sure the books on that bookshelf can't be easily identified; you don't want to be penalized because your interviewer hates your taste in literature or thinks you have too many self-help guides.

Emily Widle mostly followed this advice. "I wore a button-down business shirt. However, I wore jeans with it to stay comfortable since I knew my pants wouldn't show," she says. She did not arrange the background but she did use her dad's office. She was most concerned with finding a quiet place since her house was full of family.

When the camera is on and the interview is in progress, keep your eyes tuned into the camera as if you were facing your interviewer. You wouldn't look around that person's office, so stay focused.

Glaser says to temper your voice. "Quality on Skype isn't always great so keep your voice at a medium to medium-plus volume," he says. "Keep your voice as deep as you can without sounding silly."

Doing it Old School

Not everyone is a fan of remote video communication. In the movie Up in the Air, firing people via webcam turned out to be a bad idea. Some don't think it's good as a hiring method either. Daniel Bowling, a Florida-based human resources professional, has both conducted interviews and been interviewed via webcam. On being the interviewee he says, "I feel like I really can't get my interpersonal skills to come through." And when doing the hiring, he notes, "I am very much about qualitative factors in hiring and it is tough to capture them via webcam. Call me old school."

Skype doesn't entirely replace face-to-face meetings, as well it shouldn't. A week and a half after her digital interview, Widle met her future bosses for lunch. Turns out they were just as impressed, if not more so, in person.

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