While interviews over the phone and in person used to be the norm, video chat is becoming another viable way for employers to get to know job candidates. Among the options for online video chatting is Skype. If you're not willing or able to meet with the employer in person the first time, ask for an interview using this method.
Try It Out
Before you offer to do a Skype interview, you want to make sure your computer is set up to actually do one. If you've never used Skype before, sign up for an account and get a webcam and microphone, if your computer doesn't have them already built in. Other option: use your smartphone, which already has built-in microphones and cameras. Even if you've used Skype before, try it again to make sure you don't need any software updates or new equipment. Do a test call with a friend or colleague and ask your friend to give you feedback about the way your picture looks. If you have a really slow Internet connection, it could cause the employer to see a really shoddy-looking picture. You'll want to know so you can remedy the situation. Skype also recommends having a backup computer handy during the interview, just in case one crashes.
If you're thinking of offering to do a Skype interview, it may be because you live far away from the employer in question. If the employer specified "local candidates only" on the job posting, that probably means she's not going to pay for travel expenses for out-of-town applicants -- if she looks at out-of-towners' resumes at all. In this case, mentioning that you're willing and able to do an initial interview via video chat may make her give you a second look. Avoid putting your physical address on your cover letter so the employer doesn't discard your application, and then mention somewhere in the cover letter that you are non-local but are willing to do an initial Skype interview. It may also be worth mentioning that you're also willing to pay for travel expenses for any subsequent travel expenses.
If you're already a candidate for the position and you're in communication with the hiring manager, requesting a Skype interview may only be a matter of making a phone call or sending an email. Tell the employer you're excited and interested in the position, and then let her know any circumstances you're facing that make an in-person interview difficult, such as being far away or being out of town during the requested interview time. Then tell her you'd love to meet via Skype this time, and that you'll be willing to meet in person for any follow-up interviews. If she doesn't use Skype, ask whether there are any other video chat options she would be willing to use, and then get instructions for signing up.
If the employer agrees to the Skype interview, set up a date and time for the interview, find out her Skype username and tell her yours. Also agree on who will call whom so there's no confusion. Try to find her username on Skype right away and send her a contact request so that nothing is left to chance. When it comes time for the interview, dress in the same professional interview attire you would wear to an in-person interview. Position your computer in a clean, uncluttered room. The employer gets to see where you live or work, and so you're adding another layer of first impressions when you do an interview this way.
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