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When Your Interview is on Skype

Master AdmissionsHarvard Business School When Your Interview is on Skype

When Your Interview is on Skype

I’m wrong. A few weeks ago, I wrote an article on interviewing for a coveted spot in an MBA program and announced right up front “whether it’s for work or for school, the goal of the interviewer is to figure out what kind of a person you are in the flesh.”  I assumed the meeting would be in person. But that’s not always going to be the case, especially with Skype and other emerging technologies.

Skype is a Verb

Admissions departments at business schools have been Skyping for awhile; at a conference two years ago, Sara Neher of Virginia’s Darden School made strong plea for us to ensure that students know how to use Skype competently. Ms. Neher has been videoblogging since 2008, so you can see that she’s pretty comfortable in front of a camera.  Darden may have been in the vanguard of Skype interviewing, but it’s getting more and more popular, especially as the technology improves.

Hiring managers are turning to Skype. Fellow Harvard Business School graduate Ming Chen, now Executive VP of EF Education First, wrote this week in the Huffington Post that the Aberdeen Group research firm, found that 42 percent of companies in 2011 used video interviewing in the hiring process. And her company, a world leader in international education, uses Skype for about 90 percent of first-round interviews for jobs.

Because Ming is such an expert, I thought it might make sense to summarize some of the key points of her insightful HuffPost article, entitled, 7 Deadly Skype Interview Sins.

1.  “Can you hear me now?”   This is true for admissions and job interviews alike: make sure your technology works. This means your interview connection, your microphone, and your speakers.  Ming also suggests having a link to your resume ready, just in case.

2.  Clean User Name  It’s a business interview. Full stop.

3. Dress to Impress  Ditto: it’s a business interview.  Having said all that, I did see a hilarious post on GMAT Club about wearing boxer shorts with a suit jacket and tie.  Well, if you are a guy that is.

4. Do Your Homework  Make sure you are prepared, especially about why you want to go to that school or work at that company.  Don’t just recite off the school’s website or Wikipedia entry. Make sure you really understand the school or company’s culture, values, and positioning.

5) Look Alive  Ming Chen is a very busy woman, in a senior position at a rapidly growing company. She has a lot going on. She knows from experience that “In a Skype interview, where your interviewer is still on their work computer and email notifications are appearing inches above your video feed… It is your responsibility to engage them.”

6) It’s All About ME  Even though the interview is about you and your strengths, whether in person or on screen, you should connect your abilities with what the school or the company is looking for. This includes the questions you ask the interviewer—don’t dwell on what’s in it for you.

7) The Right Way to Follow Up  Two don’ts and a do

–          DON’T follow up using Skype  chat

–          DON’T add the interviewer to your Facebook friends

–          DO follow up with an email, following the traditional rules of engagement. Be polite, concise, and spell the interviewer’s name correctly.

8) Rehearse  I’m going to add one more to Ming’s list, and that is PRACTICE. Especially with technical glitches, you really want to make sure the entire operation is fluid. You don’t have to record your rehearsal – but it’s worth it, at least, to practice with a friend, mentor, or professional

Take your Skype interview seriously. Your performance could make the difference between a warm welcome or a ding.

— Betsy Massar

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