I have taught at NYU since 2005 and besides the students themselves, the teaching fellow (TF) can make or break the class experience. I didn’t realize this until I didn’t have a good one. My fault really, the TF’s had been so competent, I got lax in my interviewing. I hired this one without meeting him first. After that debacle of a semester, I swore I would never do that again. But now that I live in New Jersey and have two kids, an in-person interview often isn’t feasible. Thus the Skype interview. There is just something about getting to see someone’s face, their body language, and look into their eyes – even through the computer. But this type of interviewing is new for both sides of the computer screen.
When I interviewed my most recent TF via Skype she commented that it was weird and she didn’t know what to do with herself. I gave her some quick advice and have since given it a lot of thought. My biggest take away is that we should ACT AS IF. Act as if you are on a face to face interview. Here’s what I mean:
DRESS FOR SUCCESS: Not just the top but from top to bottom – including shoes. How you feel and carry yourself is, even if subconsciously, greatly impacted by what you are wearing.
SIT PROFESSIONALY: Don’t lie on your bed with your computer on your lap or sit with your feet up. Sit at a desk. Sit forward in your chair so your energy is in your body. Keep your feet planted on the ground to enable gesturing.
MAINTAIN EYE CONTACT: Look directly into the camera or at the screen of their video when you are talking. It keeps you connected to the conversation and projects confidence. Here are a few things that will help.
CHECK YOUR CAMERA ANGLE: Be aware of what they see and remove anything that does not reflect professionally or looks like it is climbing out of your head.
REMOVE DISTRACTIONS: There are a lot of distractions when you are home. Eliminate as many as possible. Close the door, schedule it when the house is empty. The other person can’t hear the ambient noise and doesn’t know why you are looking off and appearing distracted.
PERSONALIZE: This one is not unique to the Skype interview, but the technology gives you an advantage here. When I interviewed my TF, I heard a dog barking and asked her what breed her dog was. She had her furry friend jump into the camera shot and we were able to build rapport over our common love of dogs. Don’t be afraid to share a little of yourself and give the interviewer a glimpse into your life. Just make sure it is the information you want to share.
Here’s a great article on face-to-face interviewing you might enjoy: Will Video Kill the In-Person Interview?