Your graduate school interview is an essential component of your application process. But what if you’re applying to programs in another state, across the country or even across the world? Not everybody has the freedom (or funds) to travel and make those face-to-face interviews possible. Luckily, technology is catching up. Thanks to voice and video software, you could interview with a graduate school program thousands of miles away, from the comfort of your own home. But when your first impression is being made over Skype, how do you make it count? What if you don’t know how to conduct a video interview?
We’re here to help! Use these graduate school Skype interview tips to make sure your experience goes as smooth as possible.
Technical Graduate School Skype Interview Tips
Well before your scheduled graduate school video interview, you will want to get the minutiae out of the way. Address any scheduling, software, or technical and hardware issues. Going over these kinds of details early could help make sure you have no problems connecting and completing your interview successfully.
Set Everything Up
First things first, make sure you meet the basic needs of a video interview. You will need a computer with internet access, and a stable connection. If you don’t have either of those, the first step is to get your hands on them for the interview.
Also, make sure you know how the interview is being conducted. Are they using Skype? Google? Another service? Double check which one, then ensure that you have it. If necessary, install the software and register an account. If you already have an account, confirm your login information and be sure to give the school your correct contact information. And don’t forget to get theirs!
Do a Test Video Interview
Once you know you have a computer, an internet connection, and the right software, make sure it’s all functional. One way to do this is by video calling a friend or family member and having a conversation. You will want to look for the following things during this process.
- That you are able to make and receive video calls
- That your internet connection is stable and won’t drop mid-conversation
- That your computer is able to handle a longer video call without freezing or lagging
- That your video and audio quality are sufficient
Do all of this far enough in advance that, if you do uncover any technical issues on your end, you have time to fix them. Last minute software or driver updates, or connection issues, could cause unnecessary stress and make it harder to ace your Skype interview.
Confirm All the Details
Finally, you’ll need to know how the interview is going to happen! Make sure you have the following information on hand.
- What day and time the interview is supposed to happen (If necessary, double check any time zone differences to eliminate miscommunication.)
- Which person is supposed to call whom (Most of the time, your interviewer will reach out to you at an established time or time window, via the agreed upon video chat software. But make sure you’ve confirmed this.)
- Alternate contact information, in case of problems (Computer crashed? Internet outage? Can’t get through to their Skype? Ensure you can contact one another a different way.)
Non-Technical Graduate School Skype Interview Tips
Getting all the technical details out of the way in advance is helpful, but it’s not the whole picture. After all, you still have to get through the actual interview. A variety of tips are available for in-person graduate school interviews, but there are a few other things you might need to watch out for during a graduate school skype interview.
Choose Your Setting
Where are you planning to sit and conduct your interview? Make sure it’s someplace quiet, where you’re unlikely to be interrupted and have everything you need. This could be your home office, living room, bedroom, backyard… Wherever works for you, as long as you are able to get a connection, complete the call, and understand one another effectively.
Once you’ve decided where you want to set up, make sure it’s neat and presentable. After all, this is going to be your background! Do you want your graduate school interviewer staring at piles of laundry or dirty dishes while you speak? Spend some extra time straightening up, and while you’re at it, take down any unprofessional or distracting decorations that would draw attention away from you.
In addition to taking down unprofessional looking decorations behind you, make sure you eliminate any other potential distractions that could disrupt your interview. If other people will be home, ask them to be quiet, and not enter or interrupt while you’re interviewing. And figure out what to do with your pets! Your interviewer might be a dog person, but if Fido chooses the wrong moment for his barking spree, it could make having that conversation pretty difficult.
Finally, you’ll need to eliminate distractions on your computer as well. Ensure emails, notifications, and messages won’t pop up on screen during your call, pulling your attention away from what you’re trying to say.
Since you’re likely to be completing your graduate school skype interview at home, it might be tempting to stay as comfy as possible while you do it. But try not to cave to that temptation! Instead, dress the same way you would for an interview in person. Not only will that look better on camera (and reduce the odds of your interviewer catching a glimpse of your pajamas under that blazer) but it could put you in the professional, poised mindset you need. Wearing your best may help you carry yourself better. Not to mention, looking put-together is a big part of creating a positive first impression.
Frame Your Shot
This sounds pretty obvious, but when you sit down to take the call, make sure the camera is focused on the correct area. You want your face to be at the center of the screen, focused at an appropriate distance. Be sure your entire face is clearly visible, but without being zoomed out so much that you’re a speck.
During the interview, be careful to enunciate clearly, and speak slow enough that your interviewers can catch everything you’re trying to say. You’d want to do this anyway, but on a video call, it’s especially relevant. You will need to speak loud enough (but without shouting!) that your voice is picked up by the microphone.
Speech isn’t the only part of communication. You need to be looking in the right direction, too! It’ll be tempting to stare at your screen the whole time (after all, that’s where your interviewer will appear) but instead, try and look at your camera. That way, your interviewer will feel as if they are making eye contact with you. Also, be aware of your body language. Try and abstain from nervous tics like touching your face or playing with your hair. This could help you project an air of confidence.
This isn’t all there is to interviewing, but hopefully these skype interview tips could set you on a path to success! If you need more advice you could read about how to prepare for a graduate school interview here. Also, remember to prepare for your potential graduate school interview questions! Above all, stay confident. Remain cool, collected, and polite, and put your best foot forward!