10 Tips for a Successful Skype Interview

Many of us have seen that BBC interview with the Korea expert, whose children entered the room unexpectedly mid-call. I thought of this when I was coaching a client last week for his first International Skype interview.

It has been 8 years since I first did a mock interview. By effectively staging an interview setting, asking questions similar to the actual one and providing immediate feedback, it time and time again improves my clients’ ability to be successful in their job interview. The big ‘Aha’ moments my clients have during our mock interviews are almost as wonderful to experience as the text or phone call telling me that they got the job. And that’s why I love doing what I’m good at.

I am hearing more frequently that people couldn’t attend the interview in person, but were fortunately able to do a video/Skype interview. Here are a few of my tips:


  • Have a professional looking photo as your contact profile picture.
  • Select clothes that don’t have a busy pattern. Although this is a tip I used to give to clients when video calls were sometimes not a very good quality, it is still important not to distract interviewers, unless the job you are going for lets you express your creativity and individuality.
  • If you have young children, arrange for them to be out of the house. If you’re a single parent, ask a friend, family member or trusted neighbour to take care of your child even if just for the duration of the interview. You will hopefully be more relaxed going into the interview knowing that for the next (half) hour you can be completely focused.
  • Check if you have enough lighting and no shadows covering your face or background.
  • Remove any background distractions: Interviewers are people and you want them to be focused on you and what you are saying, not trying to figure out what is hanging on the wall behind you.
  • Have notes for the interview printed or written down near you; your application/CV and the questions you want to ask.
  • Have a glass of water near you. During a face to face interview you will probably get offered water because nerves can make your mouth go dry.

Before and during the interview:

  • Phone on silent: Make sure you can’t be interrupted by other calls. If you are in your own home during the interview, you might forget to put your phone on silent.
  • Talk with your hands: Ideally have enough of your face and torso in the picture, so that you can also use your hands to show what you mean. Do not fidget and move too much. This is equally distracting in real interviews as in Skype interviews.
  • Eye contact: make eye contact to create a connection with the interviewers, which means to practice looking up into the camera.

Bonus Tips:

  • Double check the time of the interview if you are not in the same time zone as the interviewer.
  • Check if you are better at doing a video interview while you are standing instead of in a seated position. It is easier to project your voice while standing. This might need practice and if you feel you move around too much, it might be better to sit after all.
  • Depending on the culture, try to start off with some small talk, if that’s what you would do in a face-to-face interview.

Contact me for a no-charge strategy session when you are not getting the job hunt results you want. Our sessions can be face-to- face, on the phone and of course through Skype.



CV writing simplified: The Timeline Exercise

As a Job Coach I help my clients with their CV writing and I will share with you a simple visual exercise I developed. In my experience it works well when you want to make changes to your CV, but keep getting stuck in an old format. Or when you are looking for a career change, but you don’t know what direction you want to go. By creating a timeline and asking the right questions in a safe and supported way I’ve helped people get clarity on their past highlights and more importantly moved them towards achieving their future career goals.

Just take an empty A4 paper and draw an arrow on it horizontally, the whole length of the page.

The start of the arrow is your birth year, the end of the arrow where you are now.

Add your education, your work experiences, hobbies, courses, volunteering and fill the timeline with your life experiences.

A client of mine found writing her CV very challenging. She couldn’t get further than typing her personal details, so she contacted me for help. She felt stuck in her life and was looking for any job to return to the world of work. Instead of filling out a standard CV template, I drew a long arrow and explored her life to this date. I asked her questions about her education (What subjects did you enjoy?), her work experience (What are you proud of? What did you learn?) and her voluntary work (Describe what you do?).

The CV writing process was much more enjoyable as she reflected in a positive way about her life and identified her strengths and her transferable skills. And she had the revelation that she enjoyed a subject in school so much, but didn’t see at the time that she could pursue a career in that direction. We explored this further by identifying a part-time course and I’m very pleased to tell you that she recently landed a job in her desired career straight after completing this course.



First published on LinkedIn on 9th November 2016

Photo Credit:Denys Nevozhai through Unsplash.com

Improving your CV by pressing Delete

You’ve probably read more articles about how to write a CV and there is good advice out there. It is sometimes difficult to apply this to your own CV. I know, because over the years I have helped hundreds of people to create a CV that will land on the “Yes pile”.

 I regard myself as a bit of a recruitment geek and love reading up on recent research and development in Human Resources and Recruitment.

In the beginning of my career as a job coach I would give each new client a copy of my special folder with the best advice regarding CV writing. I would then find out that my client didn’t read the material. Fortunately for my clients nowadays I don’t drown them in information anymore, as I’ve learned that in most cases it was not helping them.

What I do tell all my clients is that the only purpose of your CV (or application form or online portfolio) is to get you a job interview.

 Imagine you being the person who received that CV together with 10, 20, but more likely 100 other CV’s. And now imagine your CV for a second as part of a pile of A4’s. Will you go through that pile of paper word for word or will you skim read it?

There are different reports out there on the average time someone spends reading a CV, but you and I will probably agree it is not very long. So then the advice is to tailor your CV to the vacancy, to make it interesting, to stand out from the rest of the CV’s so that you will be contacted for a job interview.

A good coach can help you unlock the words to do exactly that. But if you just want to change one thing, pick up your current CV and just look at the first half of the first page. Does it say “(I am) an enthusiastic, hardworking person”, does it say “I am committed to every job I do”, does it say “I work well as part of a team, as well as on my own”?

Just delete those words. What if 10 or 20 or more of those CV’s use the exact same wording? Would that make a person want to read the rest of that one CV? No, it will just distract the person and that CV might end up in the bin.

You might want to tell me “But the rest of my Personal Profile and CV are tailored to the job, I give evidence of my skills later on”. Too late, because the next CV is there, right there underneath yours. Next!

So look at your CV and take those words out, because they do not help you stand out. They will not help you get a job interview. And that’s the only purpose of your CV.


First published on LinkedIn on 2nd November 2016

Photo credit: Bench Accounting through Unsplash.com

How to excel in a Job Interview using the STAR answer method

When you are invited to an interview, you probably spend a lot of time preparing for it. You read about the company, you look at the description of the job and you re-read your application form or CV. If you haven’t used the STAR answer method, though, to prepare for an interview, then you’ve been at a distinct disadvantage.

When the Job Description is asking for someone with “Good Communication Skills”, you might get a question during the interview such as “Can you give an example of your communication skills?”

Some of the answers I’ve heard in interviews have been “I have really good communication skills and all my colleagues like me”, or “Good communication skills are very important and I always make sure that I email my manager about what I am doing.” Some candidates give a long list of their communication skills which remind me more of an explanation from a dictionary than a real example.

The STAR answer method is not rocket science, it is a simple way of structuring your answers to clearly demonstrate the many skills you have. More importantly, it is a method of giving the recruiter/employer/listener concrete evidence of your knowledge and experience.

S –Situation:       When and where you were working?

T-Task:                 What was the task/responsibility?

A-Action:             What did you do?

R-Result:             What happened? What was the result?

Using the STAR answer method, you give a structured example to help the recruiter to know that you are the right person for the job.

Imagine the interview is for a Team Supervisor and you are currently working in an administrative role. You can demonstrate your suitability for the new role by showing how you’ve developed in your current role:

“One recent example of my communication skills is from my current role as an Administrator with the SVC Group, where I’ve worked for the last 3 years. [SITUATION] I work in a team of 10 people and am responsible for the administration, which includes collating quarterly reports and chasing up monthly sales figures. [TASK] When I first started in this role, I communicated mostly through emails as the other team members were busy with appointments, but I’ve grown into my role and now I use varying forms of communication wherever needed. Last week, I rang one of the team members to catch up with what she has been working on and I reminded her of an upcoming deadline. I think it is important to see the person behind the sales figures because it makes the team stronger. [ACTION] As well as an email I had sent, she also appreciated my personal telephone reminder. I also took the time to listen to an issue she had had the week before. As a result of communicating in a similar way with all of the team members, I received the sales figures on time and my manager praised me in the last team meeting for my work.”[RESULT]

Can you see how a well-prepared, practised STAR answer gives a real, genuine example of your skills and helps the interviewer see what you can bring to their organisation? Using the STAR answer method can show the deciding person that you are by far the best candidate.

If you need help with this, a skilled Job Coach will give you practical experience of preparing these structured answers, in a safe and supportive space, through asking the right questions to find your very best examples. As a result, you will not only excel, but you will shine at your next job interview.


First published on LinkedIn, 26th October 2016

Photo credit: Clarisse Meyer through Unsplash.com