At ROOSTERGNN Academy, we currently require a Skype interview as part of the selection process for our Internship Seminars. Students frequently ask us how best to prepare for this interview. In this article, our Director and Founder Isabel Eva Bohrer, covers the answer to this frequently asked question, which applies both to our specific Internship Seminars, as well as internships abroad in general.

For more tips, consult #RGNNadvisor, an interactive section of resources for journalists and communications professionals, helping them to become better communicators and moreover, to pursue a successful career in the media industry.

Skype interviews are increasingly common not only for internships abroad, but even for domestic positions when an employer is interviewing candidates without having them come to the office, or when the candidate is based in another city, or even for virtual internships. And while a Skype interview certainly has aspects in common with an in-person interview, the preparation process is not entirely the same.

Before the interview

Yes, we really took this photo during one of our Internship Seminars in Cuba! | ROOSTERGNN

Double-check the time zone

If you are interviewing with a company based abroad, make sure to double-check whether the interview slot time they have offered you is your local time or their local time.

If it is the company’s local time, you can use online converters such as https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html to convert from one time zone to another. If the company is based in a small town whose time zone is not showing up, use Google maps to find the nearest big city. When inputting the times in the converter, make sure you also include the date. Note that if a company based in Japan, for example, has asked you to interview on Monday, January 1, at 09.00 a.m. their time, and you are based in California, that will actually still be Sunday, December 31 in California!

When in doubt, double check with the company before you accept a time slot you will not actually be able to attend.

Inquire about which language the interview will be conducted in

Your first thought might be that the interview will be in English, but that is not always so. At ROOSTERGNN Academy, we actually interview in English and Spanish, the candidate can choose.

If you are interviewing with another company, inquire with the person setting up the interview as to which language the interview will be conducted in. If it is not your native language, but you still feel comfortable interviewing, be sure to practice with a native speaker back home, e.g. at your career center, before the actual interview.

This is something to keep in mind when putting together your CV or resume, too.

On your resume, do not state that you are fluent in a language you barely speak.

Sometimes, recruiters may ask you a test question in a language you have stated you are fluent in on your resume and you want to avoid embarassing moments of this kind at all costs.

Check your Skype username and profile

The title of this article states “Skype interview” because we use Skype to interview candidates at ROOSTERGNN.

Other popular interviewing softwares companies abroad may use include Google Hangouts or even Facebook or Facetime calls. Know which software your interviewer will be using and add them or have them add you before the interview to avoid wasting time on the actual day.

Also, when providing a username to a company, keep it professional – that includes the actual username (e.g. your full name is better than cutiegirl1989, for example), your photo (should be professional, not a party or spring break photo!), your slogan/status/etc. Try to pick a unique username so that the recruiter can find you easily. Saying that “you can find me under Anna” is probably not very helpful, given that there are millions of users with that username, so be specific.

RGNN Academy Class of 2016 at Matadero Madrid during their Internship Seminar in July 2016

Test your technology & background

When revising your username, take a moment to test your audio (microphone) and video (camera) as well. At ROOSTERGNN we use both audio and video for the Skype interviews.

If you are interviewing with another company, please check with them about whether they require video or just audio.

Make sure you have a strong internet connection for the day of the interview and no distractions in the background.

A roommate walking around in a towel coming back from the shower is probably not a good background, so pick the spot where you will be interviewing from wisely. If you do need to use your dorm room, make sure it is quiet and professional – no disco lights and please clean up the background before the interview.

And please – no pyjamas! Doing a Skype interview is not an excuse to wear anything different than what you would wear during a regular in-person interview!

Empty offices or classrooms tend to be best as quiet spaces for interviews. Coffee shops, especially those with loud baristas or even background chill out music, are not ideal for interviews and do not show a sense of professionality. Also, if you absolutely have to conduct your interview from your car, please pull over before the interview.

Research the company, position – and the interviewer, if possible

As for regular in-person interviews, we strongly advise that you research the company before the interview.

If you are applying for one of our Internship Seminars, read through the following links before the interview (you should already have done this before submitting the actual application, but if you have not, now is the time to catch up!):

General information about ROOSTERGNN Global News Network and ROOSTERGNN Academy:

Information about the Cuba Internship Seminar:

Information about the Madrid Internship Seminar:

If you can, also research the person you will be interviewing with. This is not always possible, as higher-level executives may have their assistants/coordinators/secretaries set up the interview schedules for them.

Practice makes perfect

Take advantage of your career center to set up a mock interview. They can help you with possible questions that might come up during a Skype interview. For internships abroad, be prepared to answer why you are interested in interning abroad in the destination you have applied for and what makes you an ideal candidate for this internship abroad.

Make sure to have your initial application materials on hand. For our Internship Seminars, for example, the application form asks candidates to propose ideas for articles they would want to write about while in Spain or Cuba. You would not want an interviewer to ask you about those ideas, and then not even remember what you wrote in the application form.

Also, be ready to speak about the actual dates you are available for.

Prepare several questions

Interviewers will usually leave time at the end of the interview for you to ask a couple of questions. I mean a couple, – two questions,- not two-hundred. Before the interview, research as much as possible and you will find the answers to many of your questions already on the company website. Then, if you still have unanswered questions at the end of the interview, ask them. I would recommend always keeping your questions until the end. The interviewer may explain parts of the program throughout the interview, and some of your questions may already be answered then.

Arrive early, stay afterwards

Be sure to plan in enough time for your interview. For in-person interviews, it is easy for companies to keep you waiting in their reception. However, for Skype interviews, keep in mind that recruiters may have several candidates lined up one after another. Depending on the number of questions each candidate asks at the end of the Skype interview, the recruiter may be available slightly early or be running slightly late. Make their life easier by being available via the Skype chat, and allowing them to call you when they are available.

During the interview

Sofie Hörtler (Class of 2016) enjoying the Retiro Park during her Internship Seminar in Madrid, Spain in July 2016

Look into the camera, not the screen

Much has been said about practising a strong handshake for in-person interviews. With Skype interviews, you will not need to worry about that. But, on the contrary, you will need to be aware of some other aspects. For example, look into the camera, not the screen. This may seem awkward at first, but practice again makes perfect. When setting up a mock interview with your career center, you can even have the career center staff videorecord you, so you can see how you will look in the actual Skype interview!

Don’t run around or move the screen

As mentioned previously, check your technology before the interview. During the interview, you do not want to be walking down hallways, moving around the screen to focus it – or even telling your cat not to jump on the table (yes, this has happened with a candidate we interviewed, and while we are all very animal friendly, please keep it professional during the interview).

Show your enthusiasm

Now is the time to make all that research you did on the company shine.

Show your enthusiasm for the program you are applying for (if you are not enthusiastic, you probably should not have applied in the first place).

Smile, relax and tell your story. When confronted with a difficult question, one tactic is to repeat the question first before answering – that will give you a little bit more time to figure out a response.

Be patient with technology

Despite all preparations, technology can be tricky sometimes, and even Skype is not perfect. If you do experience technical difficulties, cannot hear the recruiter or the call drops, remain patient, try again, reach out via the chat and call again. At ROOSTERGNN, we conduct interviews with candidates from all over the world, and Skype is not always reliable (it does not even work in Cuba yet!), but try your best and it will come through.

After the interview

Just another day in the colorful town of Trinidad, Cuba, during our Internship Seminar

Send a thank you note

As with in-person interviews, it is wonderful when candidates send a personalized thank you note to follow up after an interview and reiterate their interest in the program. You can thank both the interviewer and the person who set up the interview schedules (might not always be the same person, make sure to get the name of each of them). Email is fine for thank you notes for international programs – while handwritten notes are great, they probably will not arrive abroad in time for the selection process unless you send them express!

When sending a thank you note, be polite and patient as they evaluate all applicants.

As you wait for a company’s acceptance decision, you can continue to connect with them on social media, such as by liking or commenting on some of the company’s recent posts.

If you want to do so for ROOSTERGNN, here are the links to our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin. profiles.

Good luck!

Questions?

If you have any specific questions about our Internship Seminars, please contact us via academy@roostergnn.org or connect with us on social media on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Linkedin.