Skype Interviews

Written by David Marwick  for KempMillJobAssist on . Posted in Advice Columns

In the previous issue, we discussed phone interviews, and today we move on to Skype interviews. Skype interviews are increasingly used to vet candidates. Crystal Chen says that her company, Coursera, “uses Skype for a good 90 percent of our first-round interviews.” Perhaps this is an extreme example, but it is likely a herald of things to come. To convey the complexities, Chen says that a Skype interview is “like being on TV, except you’re filming, directing, and acting in this role.”

The basic rules about preparing for an interview are the same whether it is conducted in person, by phone, or by Skype, but following the medium-specific tips below can make your Skype interview more successful.


Make sure that you will not be disturbed during the interview — by people or pets barging into your room, or by noise from another room. Have a neutral background that will not compete with your attire. Soft but adequate lighting is also important. Harsh lighting can make you look washed out.


Have the right equipment. Chen suggests: “Don’t rely on the built-in microphone unless you want to sound like you’re in a bat cave. Get a dedicated microphone and test it out.” Michaela Gianotti adds that using a headset will help your audience “hear you more clearly and with less distracting background noises.”

Similarly, make sure you have a solid internet connection, because a dropped call distracts from the interview and may reflect poorly on you. Lisa Rangel of Chameleon Resumes suggests: “Test yourself by filming yourself answering some sample questions.”

It’s good to have a backup plan in case your internet connection fails you. Options include a landline, cellphone, or Google chat. Rescheduling the interview is a last resort.


“Avoid standing out,” advises “Ace Your Interview” author Lisa B. Marshall. “You want them to remember what you said, not what you wore.” As Rangel notes, “Prints and patterns can overpower the screen and make it hard for the interviewer to watch you.” She also suggests: “Full dress for the call.” That means dressing head to toe, not just head to waist. Wearing your comfy Hawaiian shorts with your collared shirt and suit jacket is fine — unless you need to stand up for any reason. Marshall provides extensive suggestions, especially for women, on colors, makeup, and jewelry.

Body Language

You want to keep your eyes on the camera, not on the view from your screen. Chen quotes a tip from Paul Bailo, author of “The Essential Digital Interview Handbook,” for helping you appear to be looking right at the interviewer: Download a photo of the hiring manager, print it, and make a hole in the photo to allow the camera lens to see through. “Now you can look at the photo, which makes it more human to conduct your digital interviews,” says Bailo.

Moreover, make sure your body language expresses that you’re engaged. “As you’re communicating, lean forward,” suggests Bailo. “This will show interest and concern and will engage your audience. It will also convey eagerness and willingness to listen.” Just be careful not to overdo it. “Even more so than in an in-person interview, avoid excessive physical movements.”

“Put on your best newscaster face,” says Rangel. “You have to be a little more animated and expressive than you would in person to convey your enthusiasm.”

Additional Tips

You should have all backup materials (job description, cover letter, resume, etc.) readily accessible on your computer, so that you don’t need to riffle through a stack of papers to find something. Also, turn off all notifications, so that you won’t be disturbed during your interview.

Bottom line: Check out everything ahead of time: the background and lighting, the microphone and computer connection, your attire, and your “look” on camera.

By David Marwick 

for KempMillJobAssist

 David Marwick is KempMillJobAssist’s workshop coordinator. He studied economics at George Washington University and worked as an economist for George Washington University and the U.S. Government Accountability Office.


In-Town Versus Out-of-Town: Going the Extra Mile While Dating

Written by Rachel Burnham on . Posted in Advice Columns

There are differences of opinion regarding the issue of “long distance” dating; that is, between those who live “in-town” (i.e., the Tri State area) and those who reside “out-of-town.” In-towners often insist on dating only within their zone, because the world outside is hard to get to. To make it there, you have to travel, make time, and spend money.

While I have to agree with the in-towners that the inherent difficulties of dating out-of-town are hard to avoid, I would caution them not to let their faith in hashgacha pratis — Hashem’s hand in our dating success — to inadvertently paint them into a corner. It is reasonable to request Hashem’s assistance in dating, but less reasonable to dictate the terms on which that assistance can come. If you will only accept a date with someone with a specific look or career and living in certain zip codes, there is very little wiggle room for His plan to play itself out.

Samantha Zenlea

Written by Batya H. Carl on . Posted in Advice Columns

Samantha Zenlea, 28, is originally from Framingham, Massachusetts, and currently lives in "the Q Street Dorms" (aka. with all of the other Jews in Georgetown). She studied biology and government as an undergrad and got her Masters in public health. She does Medicare and Medicaid advocacy for a nonprofit.

Finding Focus During the Finals Frenzy

Written by Editor on . Posted in Advice Columns

Dear Rivkie,

I am a teenage girl and am nervously anticipating my upcoming final exams. It is really hard for me to focus right now, especially on davening. When I get to school and settle in to daven, I find myself thinking about all the other things I need to do, and the looming end-of-year events (especially finals!) that are hanging over my head. I know davening with kavanah (intent or mindfulness) is so important, but when I’m really stressed, it’s hard to keep my attention where it’s supposed to be.

Navigating Risky Waters: How You Can Protect Your Retirement Assets

Written by Joel Greenberg on . Posted in Advice Columns

Saving for retirement cannot take place in a vacuum. Whether you are just starting out, nearing retirement, or already enjoying those golden years, it’s important to be aware of the risks we all face. That’s where a retirement plan comes in — it helps you identify risks to your retirement assets and formulate strategies for addressing them.

Singles Sound Off: Long-Distance Relationships

Written by Editor on . Posted in Advice Columns

Anonymous Female Single:

A few years ago, I was pretty big on long distance dating. I have warm memories of waking up early and making the trek to New York City to meet someone. I’d arrive in midtown by late morning, scurry off the bus to apply makeup in a Starbucks restroom before my date would pick me up. Yup, those were the days.

Growing with Gesher

Written by Alex Frame on . Posted in Advice Columns

On June 15, I graduated from eighth grade at Gesher Jewish Day School (Gesher JDS) in Fairfax, Virginia. It has been an amazing experience. Graduation is a big step. For many it is going to a new school, meeting new people, and having new expectations and experiences. For me, it is all of that plus a new home in a new state as I prepare to attend boarding school at the American Hebrew Academy (AHA) in North Carolina.

Your Unique Child

Written by Laura Goldman on . Posted in Advice Columns

We have just completed the celebration of Shavuot, the time commemorating the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. This holiday, among other things, tunes us into the unique qualities and character traits inherent within each of us. We use the time between Passover and Shavuot to cultivate our character traits through the counting of the Omer — a practice biblically mandated and reminiscent of the time of spiritual development of the Jewish people as they prepared themselves to receive the Torah. At a time marked by collective redemption and collective revelation, the emphasis on the individual is noteworthy.