Tips for Skype or Video Interviews to Get the Job You Want After 50

By Kerry Hannon

Copyright © 2015 AARP. All rights reserved.

If you are seeking a job after 50, you need to show you are adaptable, especially in the interview. Virtual interviews are rapidly becoming more commonplace, according to a survey by OfficeTeam, a temporary staffing services firm. Six in ten of the 500 human resource managers interviewed said their company often conducts employment interviews via video, up from 14 percent in 2011.

Video interviews involve talking live with an interviewer via Skype or other videoconferencing technology or video-recording responses to questions from a recorded interviewer.

These tips can help you become comfortable with these interview formats and ace your interview:

  • Check your equipment. You’ll need a dependable Internet connection, a webcam, and a microphone. If possible, use an Ethernet cable to connect to the Internet and turn off Wi-Fi, so your connection is faster and more reliable.

  • Perform a background check. Look at what will appear behind you. If it’s a clutter-fest with file folders and paper piles, or even personal items such as pictures from your vacation, do a clean sweep. Having a painting, bookcase, or attractive plant in the background is best, but make sure the painting and books are tasteful.

  • Adjust the lighting. You want soft light illuminating your face. Think of those klieg lights that shine on television anchors’ faces. If your room has a window, face it, or put a lamp on the desk in front of you. Avoid backlit scenarios that put you in a shadow and glaring front-lighting that makes you squint.

  • Experiment with the interview platform. If it’s a live video interview, you may need to download the application software and set up an account. If it’s a pre-recorded interviewer, you’ll receive instructions ahead of time about what’s needed to participate.

  • Reboot your computer. Rebooting ensures that you’re not running applications that may interrupt the interview. If you have applications set up to automatically run whenever you start your computer, exit those applications.

  • Adjust your webcam and chair. Adjust your camera and chair so you’re in the middle (horizontally) and the top of your head is near the top of the screen. You should be looking up slightly at the camera, a position that helps define your chin and subtly conveys a message of strength and confidence.

  • Do a dry run. Practice with a friend or family member on the platform you’ll be using or something similar. With Skype, you can record it to review. This also helps with figuring out just how loud you need to talk and how to position your webcam.

  • Dress for an in-person interview. Solid colors are best. Avoid white. Don’t forget some makeup, even if you’re a guy. It takes the shine off your skin.

  • Have a cheat sheet. Sticky notes on your screen can remind you of talking points you want to be sure to highlight about your experience and why you’re a good fit for the job as well as questions about the firm and the position. Have your résumé and the job description handy, too.

  • Try your best to look into the camera when talking. You’ll be tempted to look at yourself or the interviewers on the screen, instead, but doing so breaks eye contact with the interviewers. Remember, their eyes are the camera.

  • Smile when appropriate. Smiling provides a big boost for your video presence and energizes the interview. Try warming up ahead of time by thinking of something funny to make you laugh, or grinning at yourself in a mirror to loosen up your facial muscles. Smile especially during the meet and greet.

  • Moderate your body language. Breathe deeply and slowly and relax. Keep your shoulders back and your hands quiet. No hair spinning around your pinky, lip chewing, squinting your eyes, or overblinking.

  • Raise technical issues, if necessary. If something goes awry — say, your Internet connection blips out, or you’re having trouble with your computer’s camera or microphone — speak up. If it happens during a taped interview, just abort and contact the recruiter to explain and reschedule.

  • Say thanks. End your interview by saying, “Thank you for considering me for the job. I look forward to hearing from you.” Smile, and continue eyeing the camera until the recording or interview stops.