Your Skype Interview - The First Step in Getting a Teaching Job in Japan.  Interview Tips to Help You Get it right

With the rapid advances in technology, Skype interviews are rapidly becoming the norm especially for ESL teachers overseas who need to interview with their manager in Japan. Skype interviews save everyone time and money but retains that face-to-face time that your usual interview offers. And they can really offer you the chance to impress the hiring manager if you come across as an accomplished professional.

Mastering a Skype interview isn't as hard as it seems. But there definitely are a fair amount of do's and don'ts involved just as there are in a person to person interview.

Skype Interview Tips

Skype InterviewSkype Interview

Really the most important point that is the foundation of everything that comes after it is to understand and realize that a Skype interview is NOT different from a "typical" interview and should be treated as such.

So if you think wearing a gravy stained T-shirt and you're sporting a 5'o'clock shadow and think it is okay, Burger King could always use someone to man the deep fryer and flip them burgers.

Okay let's dig into the do's and don'ts of pulling off  a top-crank Skype interview and let's start with the do's. Most of what you need to know about interviewing you can learn by watching the news. No we are not kidding. Do news anchors stare down at their notes or do they keep their eyes on the camera?  Of course you know they glance occasionally at key points just to stay on topic but their eyes are pretty much glued to the prompter and the camera So should yours.

Don't Stare at the Screen Focus on the Camera

  • The take away is don' stare at your notes! Spend as much of the interview time looking at the camera and not the screen or your notes. The hiring manager doesn't want to see the top of your head. He/she wants to see your face and your facial expressions. Only by looking into the camera can you maintain direct eye contact as you would in a face to face interview and it helps the hiring manager get a feeling for who you are and it builds rapport. 

A Polite Greeting Certainly Doesn't Hurt

  • Just like in a regular interview, you can say "Hi" (informal) or "Hello" (formal). You can add "How are you?" or "Nice to meet you." You can also add their name to these if you want: "Hi Mr.Tanaka," "Hello Mr.Tanaka," or "Nice to meet you Mr.Tanaka". However Japanese hiring managers lean towards the formal side of thing so it is safer to say "Hello Mr. Tanaka" rather than "Hi Takahiro".

Skype Interview Attire

  • I feel like I'm flogging a dead horse here but just like in a face to face interview proper attire is expected (well at least the  upper body. Hey if you feel comfortable in jammy bottoms and it isn't on the cam go for it. Just make sure you don't have to get up to adjust some of the equipment:)

  • Ladies, do your hair nice, a bit of makeup never hurts. After all when ladies go out for dinner they usually put on a bit of make up. Nothing gaudy just tasteful and professional.

  • Men, shave and make sure your tie is straight. Suit and tie is required. Black or dark blue - nothing like what The Joker would wear. The bottom line - folks dress conservatively. This is especially true of Japanese and their expectations of interviewees.

The Impact of Your Skype Interview Background

  • Because your face doesn't fill the whole screen in the camera view your background will be included. So it should not detract from your interview. If you think about it and you were the interviewer and there was a Budweiser poster with some ladies with their lovelies popping out or some stud in a Calvin Klein underwear ad plastered on the wall behind you what would you think?  Keep your abode tidy.

Sound and Vision

  • Also take care about sound. Put your cell phone in manner mode. Got a dog?  Make sure Fido isn't barking. Close other applications on your computer so you don't get some Facebook notification during your Skype interview. So the more neutral your background is the better. Do your best to find the quietest place in your abode. If you have kids arrange for a baby sitter.

The First Skype Interview is the Hardest

  • Well it certainly is the most nerve wracking. A dry run is not the best idea. It takes time to feel comfortable in front of the camera so a good idea is to practice with a friend so you can get the feel of it. This also gives you good practice in using your key note cards.

    Remember you're not reading them you are glancing at key points only. One quick trick is to use sticky notes around the camera lens that way you are looking at the camera while pulling down the info. Kind of like how news anchors read the teleprompter which is located right at the camera. It is also a good idea to bone up on the most common questions you'll probably be asked.

Some Skype Interview Don'ts

  • I think it goes without saying but one heck of a big asset is the simplest of the simple - a smile. Don't forget to smile. And be genki!

  • Try not to fidget, touch your face etc. It can be difficult because one has a tendency of doing so when nervous. So in other words watch your body language and remember communication is both verbal and physical so acting nervous projects pretty much the same thing as sounding nervous. Sit erect and don't slouch. This projects a feeling of tiredness from the interviewee. 
  • Don't forget to practice with a friend. Polish your delivery. Get used to your equipment and how to use it. For example how loud you are speaking, microphone settings etc. so that you aren't fumbling around with settings during the interview.
  • Another banner idea is to record your interview so  you can see first hand at what you actually look and sound like during your Skype interview. This helps you polish your style faster. Skype offers these services for free. Then make adjustments. Gosh... I think we need a quote here. 

“Anything that is measured and watched, improves.”
Bob Parsons, GoDaddy founder

  • It's well worth remembering that your hiring manager will see your username and picture right off the bat so the name and picture should be professional. No one wants to hire a person with a username "drunk again." You also have the option of creating a free professional Skype account.
  • Be aware of your interviewers feeling, if you feel he or she is drifting off a little  it's a good idea to engage them a bit and pull them into the conversation a bit more. It's okay to ask semi-professional questions that engage them like "Do you like face to face interviews more than Skype interviews?"

    It's okay to ask some questions to your interviewer as it shows you have interest in their company especially if you ask questions about the company. Company related questions are much more relevant and professional than personal ones.
  • Express your gratitude and mention anyone you know from that company to show that you're familiar with them and also take a bit of time to show you know a bit about their company. So for example, "I understand your headquarters are in Nagoya, I lived in Gifu and went to Nagoya often for shopping - very nice city." Short and sweet.

  • Another courtesy is to follow up with a thank you letter after your interview is finished. It is usually best to use snail mail for this. It means more or carriers more weight as it takes more effort to do and chances are that your hiring manager will be more impressed with your effort.
  • Lastly remember your first Skype interview may not go as well as you might have wanted it to but with every subsequent interview it just get smoother and smoother.

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