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Forget the foreign interview junket: More employers are ditching flights for Skype

My waistcoat looks so good on Skype

My waistcoat looks so good on Skype

Jet-setting interview junkets are in decline this year. Candidates, even senior ones, looking for work internationally are no longer always flown out to meet their potential bosses – videoconferencing and Skype are taking over.

While employers and candidates alike typically prefer face-to-face contact, which offers a more natural opportunity to build rapport and assess personalities, interviews on TV or computer screens are becoming an increasingly popular and economical compromise.

Skill shortages in certain job functions in Asia mean global searches are still necessary, but at the same time cost-conscious banks don’t like spending money on travel for foreign candidates, says Chris Jay, operations director, Morgan McKinley Singapore.

Electronic interviews are also common when an Asian-based candidate applies for a local job, but the interviewers work at head office, says Annie Yap, managing director, AYP Associates. “For example, a senior executive in Singapore being interviewed by a management committee residing in Zurich.”

All else being equal, employers like the reliability of video conferencing and use it more than Skype, but the latter has some advantages, especially for urgent interviews across different time zones. “In the big houses, video conference rooms aren’t always available at short notice at a suitable time. It can take up to a week to get your slot,” says Jay. Skype is also used when candidates can’t get to the employer’s office in their home country for a video call, adds Yap.

No easy ride

Candidates often flunk video or Skype interviews by not doing the same preparation as they normally would and by not accounting for the peculiarities of the mediums. Not having the interview panel physically there may seem less intimidating, but it also creates pitfalls. “You could be hindered by issues like connectivity or facility malfunction,” says Yap. “Chemistry could be affected by such technical glitches and there could be lagging in speech delivery on both ends.”

Here’s what to watch out for:

• Do not make a video call in an open area, warns Yap. “Always respect the interviewer enough to do it in a quiet, conducive environment – no screaming kids or barking dogs in the background.”

• Don’t relax too much, adds Jay. “Look straight at the camera and dress as you usually would for an interview.”

• Even with the best equipment, audio can be a problem, so speak clearly and don’t mumble.

• Don’t rush your replies. If there are delays on the line, you risk talking over the interviewer, says Jay.

• Take care if you are using notes to guide your answers – you don’t want to be seen reading a script.

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