She Has An Interview on Skype

Wow, a question that would not have come to me five years ago!

Darlings, a pigeon wrote to me with a great question: what do I wear for an interview on Skype?

And I wrote this in reply,


Have someone call you on Skype and practice just having a normal conversation. The really important thing, I think, is to make sure you’re on camera at a good angle. I can look just like a mule at certain angles and I make sure to set the thing up in advance of the call to check out that I can sit up, look pleasant and feel normal (well, as normal as Skype allows!).

Check the lighting where you will be sitting, as shadows can throw your face into darkness as you speak: very disconcerting. Make sure the background is pleasant: you don’t want a Search Committee seeing you in your kitchen or a cluttered study. Choose a nice place and put a vase of tulips or something on the table. Maybe place a mug of tea at your side (you can reach for it now and then if you need something to do with your hands). Practice your smile. Wear something that frames your face nicely – nothing white and nothing black. Something that doesn’t show a lot of chest skin, which doesn’t look nearly as nice on camera as a beautiful fabric. I would keep the fabric solid, as a busy print tires the eyes. Make sure your make-up looks good on camera, and check it in advance (I find that a really bright lipstick doesn’t show up as bright on Skype — and my usual neutral just looks dead).

To continue with a bit for the boys and the girls: MAKE SURE YOU TRIM NOSE HAIRS! Seriously, one tilt of your laptop and everyone is looking straight up your schnoz. That’s why it’s so important to place the computer at a good angle and LEAVE IT THERE.

Double-check your face for crazy sticking-out hair or eyebrows, or fluffy things coming out of your ears or stuck in the corner of your eyes. Smile and check your teeth. Make sure there are no stains on your shirt. Don’t sit at an angle that makes you look all squishy — put the computer up on something so that you’re actually looking level at it and not down into it. Trust me: no one looks good looking down into a computer camera. We all look like horses peeking over the fence nosing around for a cube of sugar.

Do not, under any circumstances, allow distractions during the interview process. Do not get up “for a sec” and leave the committee or individual staring into your room waiting for you to come back. Think of your appearance as a true television appearance. Make sure there’s no curtain flowing in the breeze behind you, rattling of a furnace or any other “sounds on set.” Do not let the cat walk by the camera. Do not introduce your dog who just walked into the room. You are there to deliver the news, as it were, the good news of your good ministry — and to LISTEN ATTENTIVELY as the people on the other side of the camera ask, and respond to, questions.

Do not take notes. Do not type.
Do smile way more than you’re used to. It just looks much better on camera.
Do do some stretching and relaxing before the call, especially to relax your shoulders.
Do let us know how it goes so we can celebrate, laugh or mourn with you. These technological advances are great but they can be hell!

Lighting, hair and make-up good, as is color around the face. But look how wrong the camera angle is. Do not lean over, it looks very anxious and makes your hair fall in your face. This is also a bit too close — it looks like you’re going to jump through the screen and devour them — and fix the wall hangings, as someone on the Committee will be distracted by their crookedness.

Don’t introduce Barky. It will just make you seem crazy.

And this one’s just to make ya laff. “Oh my Gosh, was our appointment TODAY? Oh, you’re calling from the West Coast?”

21 Replies to “She Has An Interview on Skype”

  1. Thank you, THANK YOU, PeaceBang. I have my first Skype interview in a week, and I felt too silly to ask. I find almost all initial interviews are in Skype now, with an “in person” interview becoming either an after thought or a formality. It’s so awkward, but it’s good to have great fashion advice! [Sweetheart! Never feel too silly to ask! I just used Skype for the first time this past December and it definitely took some getting used to, and it was just talking to a friend! – PB]

  2. This is a situation in which I think technology isn’t serving us well. I’m the one with the Skype interview this weekend. Prayers appreciated.

  3. I’ve had a lot of skype interviews lately and I can also add to this the advice that the search committee will most likely have you projected on a big screen in their meeting room so everyone can see you (YIKES), so don’t be weirded out if they tell you they’re doing that. Also, even though you really want to look at who you’re talking to, don’t. If you look at their image on the screen, you’ll never actually make eye contact with the committee. Just look at your webcam the whole time. And here comes my final (sneaky) tip…I jot down some questions/thoughts I have for them and write them big on sheets of paper and tape them around the edges of the screen. Strange, I know. But it means I can just thoughtfully look to the side as if pondering a question without the pressure of remembering everything I want to ask or the embarrassment of flipping through pages.

  4. this is great! (and I would be the committee member distracted by the crooked frames.)

    I’m in an “institutional ministry” setting, and a large amount of my connection with people is through phone or email. But I’m a very in-person relational sort of gal.

    it seems like video conferencing/calling would be a good choice for me, but I am so resistant – mainly for all the “don’t do” reasons you mention in your post. I think I’d be so distracted on the call – is my hair sticking up weirdly? does it look like i have two chins?

    last week i decided i would give video calling a chance – your helpful advice came at such an opportune time!

    many thanks and blessings to you!

  5. Something I think is also important is to look into the webcam for a good part of the time, wherever it is on your computer, so that they can see your eyes and it looks like you’re making eye contact. If you look at the screen the whole time, you appear to be looking down and away from them. (I’m sure the interviewers know you’re just looking at the screen at those times, but it can be tiring to carry on a conversation with someone who never appears to be looking back at you.)

  6. May God save me from ever having a Skype interview–I think I would hate it. That being said, your advice all sounds fabulous, PB.

    And that last pic is hysterical!

  7. Your advice is spot-on, PB! I practiced before my first Skype interview a couple of weeks ago, and discovered that the lighting and background in my usual computer location was awful. With a 180-degree turn, both were great. Someone had offered me a bit of advice … Try for a bit of contrast with your hair color and background, but avoid a white background. The wall behind me (and my mostly-dark brown hair) was a soft, golden tan, with some drapes (closed) in a very subtle pattern of a similar shade — warm and interesting, without being distracting. I tried two different pairs of glasses, opting for the ones I usually wear when working on my computer, because they have an open shape (easier to see my eyes) and no glare. I did wear black, but with a scarf in a color that enhances my skin tones and, most important, one that I feel good in.

    There were a few questions I wanted to be sure and ask during the interview, so I printed them large enough to be easily read and placed them at the bottom of my computer screen — not visible to the camera, yet an easy reference for me.

    Also, I did a little visualization exercise right beforehand … I had located a photo of the interviewer on the Internet, and had that picture in my mind; I thought about the setting she would likely be in, her role, background, etc., to allow me to “walk” into her office, as one would for an interview. It helped me feel present with her, instead of awkwardly communicating through distance and technology.

  8. I don’t use Skype as much as I use other video conferencing systems, but I think this suggestion applies to all. There is another reason to wear solids, and to generally sit still (more still than you normally would). If the connection gets slow, the image will freeze momentarily, or move slower than it should. In those case, any form of business will turn into a blur.

  9. Also, get completely dressed as if you were doing an in-person interview. What if there were a fire and you had to jump up from the computer and the committee saw that for emotional comfort, you’d worn your bunny slippers? *shudder*

    Love the last pic!

  10. OMG! The pictures are FANTASTIC! Now, you mentioned not to wear black or white. Um, well, I’m an Episcopal priest. Will be in a collar but will have a simple colorful solid shirt over it.

  11. My first interview for my current position was on Skype. I was traveling in South Africa, which complicated things greatly! I got a hotel room with what the website said was reliable internet for my interview at something like 11 pm my local time!

    Turned out the internet required me to put in a (free) code every so many MB of data – about every 10-15 minutes. Incredibly frustrating. I was not cool and collected when we started. I did shower and dress like I would for an interview, and picked the best wall/ light I could in the room.

    The technological glitches turned out to be a gift. I got to demonstrate my technological skill (which I developed as we went along, but they didn’t know!) and the committee had a chance to talk among themselves as we went along, which I now know they appreciated.

    I would have never designed it this way, but it was a success. I started just over a month ago and I’m loving the new gig! Break a leg Joie – and embrace the adventure!

  12. Really, I can’t take notes? But it’s an interview for both of us. How am I supposed to remember when the insurance starts, and all of that stuff?

  13. And btw, PB, your recent posts have been most awesome. Thanks for this one as well. [You’re welcome! And thanks for the thanks! – PB]

  14. I would think its OK to take notes at appropriate times. You could even say, “That’s good information. Let me make a note of that.” Taking notes would look odd while they are asking you questions.

  15. While I understand that interviewing by Skype is not ideal, as a former Board President who struggled with the church’s extremely limited finances, the idea of being able to talk to excellent candidates for such low cost is almost a miracle.

    Think of how the perfect church for you may be a very expensive flight away. At least you can have that initial interview without wasting money or burning fossil fuels!

    Very best of luck to you, Joie. May a bit of technological wizardry lead to a long and wonderful relationship with this congregation.

  16. I add two things

    Make sure you have a good internet connection! You might want to have a backup plan in case your connection gets spotty before the interview.

    Second, regarding looking the webcam in the eye, put the monitor with the webcam about 3 inches ABOVE your forehead. When I did this I sat in a regular chair and set my laptop on a stool. That way you are always looking slightly upward and making better eye contact with your webcam.

    Good luck, Joie! You will be great!

  17. All went well. Not even one tech glitch. The worst part was forgetting my makeup bag at church. But I even had backup for that. Not as good but better that than having a stressful drive at the last minute. Thanks for all the comments!!

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