Congratulations! Being asked to interview online means you’ve joined a small, select group of fellow applicants. Although Glassdoor reported a few years ago that the average posting for a professional position attracts 250 résumés, that was before the COVID-19 pandemic altered the job market. While the number of résumés each job attracts has likely grown, chances are it’s still around half-a-dozen candidates who actually score an interview. So to paraphrase just about every Oscar nominee in history, it’s an honor just to be nominated… er, interviewed.
The challenge in 2021 is that your interview will likely be conducted online. Because they can pull from a wider pool of candidates and are often more time-efficient, video interviews have been growing in popularity for years. The lockdown-triggered virtual workplace has made them nearly ubiquitous. Unfortunately, even digital natives can be thrown by the format’s unique requirements. Although the questions aren’t necessarily different, how you respond should be. So here are four Skype interview questions along with some hints on the best way to respond.
1. Tell Me About Yourself
This old chestnut will likely never be retired. It can also lead to meandering, long-winded responses that tell the interviewee nothing substantial about the candidate. This is why online interviews should be prepared for even more carefully than in-person ones. In a room your gestures and emotions are easier to read.You’re likely more natural as well. If you aren’t comfy on camera, you’ll seem stiff and uninteresting.
So have a trusted friend or family member contact you on Skype and ask you this question. Work on honing your response so it’s brief, but interesting. It should connect to your skill set and interest in the position. They may also ask you why you chose your particular career. Regardless, this question can include information about early experiences selling, marketing, writing, or whatever relates to the job at hand. However, they are hiring a person not a robot. So brief details about adopting a rescue dog or a late-blooming passion for cultivating prize-winning petunias is fine as well.
2. Why Did You Leave Your Last Job
They are going to ask. Why did you leave? Were you unhappy with the boss, bored with the work, didn’t get along with colleagues? Maybe leaving wasn’t your choice. Don’t lie. In fact this is another area where Skype interview questions can be more daunting than “in real life.” That’s because many of us have a tendency to look everywhere but at the camera. We often focus on our own tiny image instead of the people asking the questions. While that’s always a mistake, when you are answering a question like this one it can read as dishonest or dissembling. So, smile, look straight at the little lens and offer a positive take on what could have been a negative experience. You’re seeking a mentor, you’re hoping for more challenges, you want to be part of a team. You and your last employer agreed that it wasn’t the right opportunity.
3. What Is Your Greatest Weakness?
Video interviews may take place between you and numerous company representatives –– often stacked in tiny boxes like celebrity guests on a seventies game show. Sometimes they’ll talk over one another; sometimes one will seem less prepared than the others. Your job is to answer them clearly and acknowledge them individually. Questions like this one are often delivered by the third or fourth person asking Skype interview questions. Do not answer, I work too hard. Instead, turn it to a skill that you once lacked but have taken the time and energy to improve. As an example, you might say that your greatest weakness is public speaking. When you realized that you’d be making a presentation to the board, you joined your local Toastmasters to hone your skills. No one expects you to be perfect. Own your flaws while revealing the steps you’re taking to overcome them.
4. Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years
One huge mistake people make with online interviews is treating them as poor cousins to in-person interviews. They don’t take a shower, sport the always popular sport coat and shorts combo while managing to include an unmade bed and last night’s empty wine bottle in the background. I bring this up now because any question about your view of the future is a signal of commitment to the company. No one wants to hire someone who doesn’t care. So prep for the videoconference as you would for any interview. Shower, shave, and dress top to bottom. Maybe even put on shoes. Make sure you’ve triple-checked your equipment –– utilizing the test call feature to circumvent any audio and video issues. Then adjust your desk or laptop so nothing more interesting than a blank wall is behind you.
When asked about future you, discuss in broad terms the favorite aspects of your career along with any training or education that is related to it. Then sketch out a reality that clearly includes the company you are interviewing with. If it’s tech orientated, discuss how you hope to hone your skills while working for them. If your role involves improving the bottom line, then note how you hope to drive profits or oversee product roll outs.
If you secretly hope to live in Paris (and your prospective employer doesn’t have a French satellite) then it’s fine to leave that out. However, if they are dynamic enough to be a global concern your interest in travel and foreign languages could bode well.
Interviewing online isn’t easy. Yet mastering the skill is vital since you will likely be interacting with your bosses online quite a bit once you are hired.
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