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The bedroom or the boardroom? Skype interviews are convenient, but are they an easier option?

Regardless of the challenges they can present, it seems that the convenience and wide accessibility of Skype interviews are their selling point

In an age when technology is so advanced that we are able to shop, date, game and have face-to-face conversations online, it is hardly surprising to learn that many employers are using the medium of Skype – a live, internet-based, video chat program – to conduct interviews with prospective employees.

While this might initially seem like a far easier and less stressful alternative to a traditional interview scenario, the wonders of modern technology only stretch so far and electronic interviews can present new challenges and considerations of their own.

Dana Nordyke, assistant director at Kansas State University’s Career and Employment Service, stresses the importance of maintaining eye contact with the camera, which is usually located on the top of a computer or laptop, rather than looking directly at the people on the screen or becoming distracted by your own image in the smaller box below. This might sound trivial but it can have a major impact on how individuals present themselves. Minimising further distractions, such as computer ad pop-ups, ringing phones and other environmental factors, is also a sensible move.

In the absence of physical interaction, it can be tricky to fully project your personality during an online interview. This is even more difficult in telephone interviews, which are also growing in popularity.

Naturally there is a distinct lack of the conventional pleasantries associated with the interview process, such as the introductory handshake, and it is therefore important to find other ways to convey your personality, professionalism and enthusiasm for the role. Treat the interview with the same regard you would an in-person meeting by dressing well, ensuring your surroundings are in order, and arriving – or logging on – early.

Even the best preparation cannot eliminate the possibility of running into technical difficulties. If the internet connection is patchy at either end, an interview can quickly become distorted and consequently disrupted.

Mandy Simons, a senior at Kansas State University who has experience of interviewing via Skype, explains that the other person has to wait for the connection to return to normal and any missed questions and answers have to be repeated. Aside from this, all you can do to prevent glitches is try to interview from an area with a solid connection and run a test call to a friend before the interview begins; however, even then, there are no guarantees.

Many companies are offering videotaping platforms as a pre-empt to a live, online interview. During this first stage, the job-seeker would answer set questions without interacting with anyone at all. This may seem like a strange notion; however, by the very nature of the modern world that seems to favour instant gratification, it seems to be taking off.

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