Skype interviews in English: checklist

Do you have a Skype interview soon?

Skype interviews are very popular now with schools and companies. If you're an international candidate, you'll probably have a Skype interview when you're applying for a job or to a school.

Here's what you need to know about these interviews to do well.

How to have a successful Skype interview in English

What is a Skype interview?

Skype interviews/ Video interviews/ Webcam interviews/ Online interviews

These interviews have different names and technologies but they're interviews done over video conferencing, so they include both audio and video.

These interviews can be live or recorded.

1. Prepare 

Do I need to prepare for my video interview? Yes. If English is your second language, you can have a successful video interview if you prepare – don't try to do it with no practice.

Most of the preparation will be the same as for an in-person interview but there are a few things you have to pay attention to that only relate to an online interview.

Use this checklist to help you prepare

I wrote this to help non-native English speakers who are interviewing in America, other English-speaking countries, or at English-speaking companies prepare for video interviews.

Video interviews can be harder for ESL students/non-native English speakers because the sound over the computer isn't as good as face-to-face.

2. Practice the technology

Is your interview on Skype? If you've never used Skype before, install it and call a friend. Make sure your mic and webcam are working and that you know how to use the program.

Your call may not be on Skype - there are a lot of video conferencing programs out there, so try to find out which one they'll be using and practice with it beforehand.

Right before the call check and double-check your Internet connection, webcam, and microphone.

Shut down other software programs that aren't needed so you have fewer technical problems.

What if there's a problem with the technology?

The technology isn't perfect, and sometimes it doesn't work, so you need a plan for technical problems.

If the audio or video stops during the conference call, stay calm and professional. If you can't resume the interview, try to contact the interviewer by telephone or email, and reschedule the interview.

What if there's a problem with the sound?

There may be a delay between you answering the interviewer’s question and he or she responding. Just pause a few seconds longer and wait.

If you don't video call often, practice testing the computer audio beforehand. If you're using a headset (which I always do for better sound quality), know how to test the headset sound.

Speak clearly. Pay attention to pronunciation - you need to be very clear because the sound quality will not be as good as face-to-face.

Don't speak too quickly.

3. Use strong lighting

Check the lighting. Is your face well lit? Ask the person you're practicing with.

If not, add a lamp or move your computer to a better place. You don't want shadows on your face and you don't want the room behind you to be dark.

4. Show a clean background

Look at the space behind you. What do you see?

The interviewer should see a clean, neat space.  A plain wall is best.

This will make you seem organized and professional.

5. Wear professional clothing

Dress the same way you would for a regular interview.

Test your outfit. Does it make you look pale and tired? Sometimes the lighting on webcams doesn't make you look good, so you may want to choose a brighter color shirt.

Women may want to wear a bit more makeup than usual so it shows up.

Test this!

***Don't wear any bracelets that make noise. The noise will sound twice as loud over the computer.

Have a mirror to check your appearance right before you begin. 

6. Sit in a quiet place

Turn off the tv. Turn off your phone. If you have your phone set to ring on your computer turn that off as well.

Put all pets and children out of the room.

If there is loud traffic noise outside of your house go somewhere else or sit away from the window.

Don't make unnecessary noise that the microphone may pick up on or amplify. This includes typing. Use a pen and paper for notes.

7. Plan ahead

The good news about video interviews is that you can look at your notes if you need to and no one will notice.

  • Bring a glass of water.

  • Bring a pen and paper - typing is too noisy.

  • Have a printed copy of your resume with you.

  • Have any notes you need.

8. Make eye contact

Look in the webcam, not at the picture on the screen.

If you look at the picture, it will seem like you're not looking in their eyes.

On the top of my monitor there are two little circles - one lights up in red when the webcam is on and the one to the left of it is the actual camera. I need to look at that one or else it seems like I'm not making eye contact.

Your computer setup may be different than mine so test it beforehand.

Please test this – I teach online and many of my students never look into my eyes because they look at my face on the screen instead of at the camera. This is okay in a class with your teacher but it is NOT okay in an interview. 

9. Use proper body language

Don't talk with your hands - it's distracting and can block the camera.

Don't cross your arms.

Sit up straight; don't lean toward the camera.

Here's more information about body language for you.

10. Be careful with your English

Pronunciation is important. The sound isn't perfect on Skype interviews so you have to be more careful than usual. If your English isn't perfect, remember to slow down, speak clearly, and pause between words.

Practice key words you'll need, such as vocabulary about your field, as well as basic interviewing words.

11. Move your face

You are on video, so smile, frown, look interested or thoughtful – use the same facial expressions you would in person. 


 I’m happy to say that after working with me my clients have done well in their interviews and gotten the job they wanted or gotten into their top choice school.

If you’d like to work with me to prepare for your interview, email me at to schedule a free 15 minute consultation or a full interview prep session.

Interview Genie is an American interview prep company specializing in interviews at American companies and American schools.