We can see you now: 8 Skype interview no-nos

From keeping the family out of the picture to remembering not to text while on-camera live, we highlight some don'ts that if avoided might help you land a job.

Recruiters, Human Resources directors, executives and hiring managers are racking up more hours interviewing candidates via videoconferencing these days. As they do so, they are stumbling upon some not-so-attractive qualities in their candidates. Heed their sage advice and save yourself some serious interview embarrassment.

Have you met my boy Danny?

Just as you wouldn't have your spouse and kids lurk in the company lobby during your interview hoping for a chance to press the flesh with a potential new boss, keeping them hovering near your online interview is a no-no.


"Online interviews are shorter than in-person interviews. They are meant to be more efficient and you don't want distractions," says Charley Polachi, partner at executive recruiting firm Polachi in Framingham, Mass. Introducing Scooter so he can update everyone on how he did at the game is not a winning strategy, according to Polachi. Instead, save the family chitchat for after you're hired.

You have something on your chin. No, right there.

No one wants to see what you had for lunch magnified on a wall-sized screen, so make sure to double-check your appearance before dialing in to your conference call. One little piece of spinach in your front teeth, a tomato sauce stain on your shirt, or even a bad case of bedhead could keep hirers from focusing on your talents. And for Pete’s sake, don’t, as some candidates have, ask if you can eat lunch during the call, Polachi says.

Location, location, location

The environment for your video call can be just as important as the content, according to Matthew Ripaldi, senior vice president at IT recruiting and staffing firm Modis. As example, he points to the disaster that occurred when a potential hire dialed in to a video interview from the top floor of a parking garage. "It was so windy, I couldn’t hear a word he said," Ripaldi says.


Ripaldi advises clients to be honest about timeframes they have available where they can be in comfortable and engaging surroundings and not to try to fit interviews in.

Does this meeting come with barf bags?

A lot of people fidget during meetings, either bouncing their legs up and down or spinning back and forth in their seat. Quirks like these appear pronounced during video interviews and Polachi says he literally got nauseous watching a candidate wiggle in his chair during a videoconference. Place a Post-It note right under the camera to remind yourself to sit still, he advises.

No texting while interviewing

Too often, interviewees think that silencing their devices during a video call is good enough in the etiquette department. But Polachi has caught too many candidates texting below the screen, where they think they can't be seen, that he now tells them to put the phone in another room. It's difficult to convince hirers of your interest in their company when you’re glancing away every time the phone screen lights up.

Yes, this thing is still on

Make sure the conference call has ended before returning to normal life. Both Ripaldi and Polachi have had instances where a candidate was sailing through the interview with flying colors, only to have something happen that puts the offer in jeopardy. In one case, an applicant's cat jumped onto the keyboard and he flung it to the floor while executives were still watching. In another, a candidate banged his head on his desk when he didn’t know the answer to a question. "People forget that we can see everything they are doing," Polachi says. He and Ripaldi both recommend that interviewees dial in to their own desktop before the call to grasp the camera's scope.

The wall of shame

Ripaldi notes that candidates will spend a lot of time on how they look, what they wear and what they are going to say, but then forget something as simple as looking behind them. For instance, an applicant might have on a fantastic suit and be incredibly impressive in his responses, but if just over his shoulder is an inappropriately themed poster, he might not snag the job.


An equal dissuader: When candidates over-stage the background, filling it up with framed degrees, conversation starters (like hunting trophies), family photos, or sports memorabilia. Keep it simple, Ripaldi says, so the hirers can focus on you.

So, what's the weather like where you are? The same.

Never agree to a video call if you are geographically close enough to meet in person. "I always would rather meet with a candidate face to face," Polachi says. "An in-person interview has a much higher probability of creating a bond." It's a far better experience than trying to assess someone who lives nearby but looks like they are dialing in from a bunker, he says.