Preparing for Your First Skype Interview

Photo of a man sitting in front of a laptop in a home office.

As a freelance writer, at some point, you are going to be involved in a Skype interview. In some circumstances, you may be the one being interviewed by a potential client who is considering you for a project. In other instances, you will be doing the interviewing in the course of preparing a piece. Whatever the reason for your interview, there is an art to using Skype for these kinds of conversations that is different from other interview styles. Because Skype allows you to see the other person, the body language and demeanor of the person on the other end comes through like it does in person, but because you are not in the same place, there are still some of the potential communication challenges that exist in phone interview sessions.

Preparation is key if you want to succeed in any kind of Skype interview. There are a few critical things you should do any time you use Skype for an interview.. These tips can help you get ready for all of the Skype interviews you may take part in as a freelance writer.

Before Any Skype Interview

It doesn’t matter if you are interviewing or being interviewed—before any professional Skype call as a freelance writer, take these steps:

Update your Skype profile to display a professional user name.

Many people have instant messaging tags and nicknames in their Skype profiles, but that won’t make the right impression for a professional call. Update your profile name so that it displays your real name or the name of your freelance writing business.

Test the technology.

You don’t want to learn how to use Skype when you’re in the middle of a professional call. Make sure that you feel at home clicking around in the application, so that you’re ready to concentrate on your call. You should also test your microphone by doing a test call with a friend.

Get the lighting and background right.

This is another instance in which a test call can be helpful. The person on the other end should be able to see you clearly, without shadows across your face. Your background should look tidy and professional. Make sure it will stay that way by choosing a private space for the call in which kids and pets won’t make unexpected appearances in the background.

Dress for the occasion.

Just because you are using Skype doesn’t mean that you should treat the interview with any less professionalism than you would an in-person meeting. Dress as you would for any other interview, so that you look like a pro.

Avoid doing Skype calls in public places or any area in which your internet connection could be spotty. You will need a secure, fast connection without any lag time to have the most productive call.

Preparing for a Skype Interview with a Potential Client

So, a client has decided that you could be the right freelance writer for his or her job, and now he or she wants to Skype with you about the project. Treat this call as you would a job interview. Although you will represent yourself as a professional freelance writer and fellow business owner, you are also trying to get the client’s business by making the right impression. Before this kind of Skype interview:

Research the company.

Get an idea of the brand identity and the voice and tone of other content they have published.

Construct a plan for the project.

You may not know a lot of the details at this time, but use the information you do have to explain to the client how you would approach the project and the time and supplies you may need.

Be ready to talk numbers.

The client will almost certainly want to know what you would charge for the projects they have at hand. Keep your rate sheet handy and be ready to explain how you would arrive at the budget for the job. If the project is atypical, it is OK to ask for time to work up a personalized budget, but be ready to give some general numbers.

Have a list of writing samples handy.

Be ready to point to similar work you have done in the past and to talk about companies and publications for whom you have written. Talking about those projects and showing that experience will help to demonstrate that you are a capable writer.

It is OK to take notes during the interview. After it is over, follow-up with an email confirming any points you discussed and to thank the other person for his or her time.

Preparing for a Skype Interview for a Writing Project

If you need to interview someone for a freelance writing job, Skype is an excellent way to do it. It limits the expenses for the project, since you don’t need to travel, but also lets you look the other person in the eye for your conversation. Get the most out of this kind of Skype interview with these steps:

Prepare for recording.

Recording your interview is essential, so decide which software you want to use to do so. Garageband is an easy tool that many people use, but you can find a software that works the best for you.

Do your homework.

You should research your subject thoroughly and create a list of questions and conversation points. Although you want your interview to flow like a conversation, having a list of questions and points that you want to address is crucial for keeping the chat going. Practice saying your questions out loud a few times. Doing this will allow you to easily catch any difficult or awkward phrasing that could throw you off.

Alert the other person that you are recording and get his or her permission.

This is required in some places for legal reasons, so it’s best to say it to every interview subject and avoid any potential issues.

Agree on a time frame for the interview in advance.

Depending on the circumstances, the person you are talking to may be part of a press junket with interview windows of set lengths that are relatively non-negotiable. In other cases, you have more leeway. However, knowing in advance how long the interview should last will help you and your interviewee prepare more thoroughly.

At Writers Work, helping freelance writers start and build their careers is our focus. From advice for new freelancers to tips shared between seasoned vets, you’ll find it all in our community of freelance writers. Join our network today for access to advice, coaching, a professional writing portfolio, and of course, plenty of clients who are looking for freelance writers.

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