14 simple steps for Hiring Managers to Nail a Skype Interview

skype interview with job candidates

A Skype interview is a good alternative to an early stage phone interview that is used to vet the main deal breakers for a position. Skype interviews can also be conducted for second interviews if proximity is a challenge, but final interviews should be conducted in person whenever possible.

  Sample Skype Interview Guide for Managers 

Take a look at a sample Interviewing Guide for Managers.   It includes the Skype Interview checklist shown below and can be previewed, downloaded and edited using Microsoft Word.   

Skype Interview Checklist

As the interviewer, you have the responsibility of maintaining the professional standard for your company. When Skyping, it’s sometimes easy to forget that you’re not chatting with a friend and that a Skype interview should be conducted with the same care as an in-person interview. 

Here's a checklist that any hiring manager can use to get the most out of a Skype interview:

  1. Review your Skype name. You would consider it a red flag if you’re conducting a business interview with an otherwise solid candidate whose Skype name is KingMarijuana. Make sure your user name is also appropriate.
  2. Practice before conducting your first video conference interview. Make sure you are very familiar with the technical settings and are prepared for connection, sound or video problems that may occur and learn how to fix them ahead of time.  Practice video conferencing with a co-worker or a friend. 
  3. Get the time zones right before the interview begins. It’s your responsibility to ensure that a 9:00 am interview for you isn’t a 2:00 am interview for the candidate.
  4. Make sure you have a secure, solid broadband connection.  Avoid using wi-fi which can be flaky and the connection can often drift in and out. 
  5. Dress the part. Your attire should be no different than if your candidate came in for an in-person interview. 
    TIP:  Avoid hot colors like red or fuchsia can be too bright on camera. Also avoid shiny jewelry that can be seen on screen as it can come across as a disco ball and can be distracting. 
  6. Consider your physical surroundings. Does the whiteboard behind you include sensitive information?  Is your desk or office cluttered? If necessary, book a conference room if that’s what you would normally do for an in-person interview. 
    TIP:  If your company is conducting a lot of digital interviews, consider creating an interviewing studio that is optimized and ready-to-go for any web conference interview.
  7. Consider the lighting.  Test your lighting with your own webcam to see what you and your surroundings look like to the candidate.  Avoid lighting that produces shadows or is too bright or too dark which may create a dingy atmosphere. 
  8. Use a headset. Your computer picks up a lot of background noise. By using a headset, the candidate will be able to hear you more clearly, especially if you’re in a public place or shared space.
  9. Eliminate any interruptions. 
    • Place an “Interview in progress” sign by your door.
    • Turn off any notifications on your computer including your email client, social media, and change your Skype status to “Do not Disturb”.
    • Silence your phone.
  10. Make eye contact. While it may seem counterintuitive to look into the webcam instead of your screen, it will reinforce that you’re present and friendly. It also ensures that you’re not distracted by watching yourself in the bottom corner.
    TIP:  Cut a hole in a colorful stick-it-note and place it over your webcam eye to remind yourself to look there during the interview.  To get a more becoming angle of yourself, place the camera so that it’s eye level.  
  11. Watch your body language.   On Skype, the main cues of your engagement come from your body language.  Lean forward as you’re communicating.  As with an in-person interview, this will engage your candidate as you exhibit interest, concern, eagerness, and willingness to listen.  
  12. SMILE!  Remind yourself of this most important tip by placing a stick-it note on your screen.
  13. Calmly handle any technical glitches.  Tech glitches will occur, no matter how prepared you are.  Handle them with grace and resist the urge to get frustrated and curse at the software! This leaves the candidate feeling tense and uncomfortable.  It’s also very acceptable for the call to be restarted when real-time troubleshooting doesn’t resolve the challenges. 
  14. If appropriate, record the interview.  Most video conferencing tools include easy-to-use features for recording your sessions. The recording can be played back to stakeholders if you’re recommending that the candidate move to the next steps and saves everyone considerable amounts of time. Be sure to always obtain the candidate’s permission in writing before the video conference begins.

Advantages of a Skype Interview

The advantages of a Skype interview include: 

Logistics:  When you advertise a position, you're likely to have many more applicants than you can realistically interview. Skype interviews allow you to quickly narrow down your pool of potential candidates.

Cost:  Saves time and money. Consider the cost of one or more people interviewing first round candidates face-to-face for an hour— individuals you haven’t even spoken to before they arrive for the interview.  Depending on the position, a Skype screening interview may take only 15 to 30 minutes.  Bonus:  It virtually eliminates the interview's carbon footprint. 

Efficiency:  It is more effective and efficient for the hiring manager to conduct a short Skype interview with the top 6-10 candidates before scheduling Round 1 face-to-face interviews with the top 2-4 candidates.

Candidate screening:  A Skype interview helps to quickly filter language and communication barriers, compensation expectations, and other ‘deal breakers’ for the position. It allows the hiring manager to gather information about the candidate’s qualifications and experience, and observe body language and mannerisms. With this information in hand, the hiring manager can then quickly eliminate unlikely candidates.

Last Word

Web conferencing is fast becoming an indispensable tool for Hiring Managers to conduct efficient and cost-effective interviews.  Give them the tools they need to do it right.

  • Download a sample Interviewing Guide for Managers. It includes the Skype Interview checklist shown above and can be previewed, downloaded and edited using Microsoft Word. Then customize it for your company.  It's always easier to edit than create from scratch.
  • If you're looking for other documents to support the interviewing function, check out the  Interviewing Toolkit, or other related kits for the Hiring Process.
  • Also available is a full solution for Setting up a Department of Human Resources using editable documents. 

Ariane Laird Vancouver

Ariane Laird is CEO & Founder of ConnectsUs HR, a company that provides tools & resources to quickly set up a Human Resources department.  
You can contact her directly from the Inquiry Type drop down menu.