Tuesday, 30 July 2013

What I learned from my first Skype interview

Two weeks ago, I experienced my first Skype job interview as well as my first interview with an English-speaking board, all in one go! Though it went quite well, I didn't get the job... But it was a very useful experience to me so I wanted to share a bit of what I learned.

1. A Skype interview can actually go quite well!

I was very very stressed about the whole concept of talking to people I didn't know and speaking another language through such an unreliable mean as Skype. But, thanks to their very nice IT service, I was able to make two tests before the actual interview to try out the sound and video so that it went really smoothly on the d-day.

Here are a few tips I gathered on the Web and put into practice on that occasion:
  • I used a headset because the built-in microphone of laptops is rarely great and you definitely want to be heard distinctly;
  • I moved the furniture around so as to have a blank wall behind me and better natural lighting on my face;
  • I propped up my laptop with some dictionaries for a better framing;
  • I actually tested the whole disposition with their IT service and I filmed myself several times to make small adjustment and feel safe enough IT-wise;
  • I had a plan B (my phone nearby and the phone number from their HR service ready to be dialed)!

2. I got a better idea of what kind of positions I can apply for

This was the first time I was proposed to interview for a job after sending more than 25 applications for various positions all over Great-Britain. And it is no surprise that the only institution that asked to interview me had offered a position that was the closest to my skills and experience. So I'm planning to be more picky when answering job announcements so as not to spread myself too much between numerous applications and focus more on a few fitter positions.
But also, here from France, I'll keep working on building better skills and experience for myself to be as qualified as possible on my particular strong points. Go, go, go!

Also, I'm going to keep rewriting my CV again (and again and again...). You wouldn't believe the number of versions of my CV I have on my computer right now. Of course, I change it a bit for every position I apply to but I've also made profound changes many times as I understand more and more how the library job market works overseas. And now is time to change some things again.
A particular detail that struck me, stems from a vocabulary point. When the board told me that they were searching for a liaison librarian and what kind of things that exactly entailed, it made me realise that I actually am a liaison librarian! I had seen the expression many times in various announcements but it hadn't really hit me until then. I'm definitely using that word from now on on my CV. Well, until I find a better way to describe what I do in this tricky English language!

3. I want to practise more my spoken English!

It was such a relief to realise that I could actually understand what the board said. I've been watching a lot of British films and series but I have to admit that if the speech goes a bit too literary or over the board within slang and strong accents, I still have to put up the subtitles to actually understand the plot. And I was quite suspecting that real life people don't articulate as much as actors do... But I was wrong. I had absolutely no problem understanding what the people who interviewed me said, but for a few technical glitches.

An even bigger relief was that they also seemed to understand me! Which I clearly doubted up til then. I do hear in my mind what a good English accent is supposed to sound like but my mouth seems to still have trouble uttering the actual words. I had practised insanely my presentation and potential interview questions so I didn't have too many problems when talking with the board, but as soon as I deviated from my scripts... Stuttering and bizarrely constructed sentences ensued! So I definitely need to keep working on that and I'm a bit at loss how to.
By any chance, would there be some nice British librarians wanting to Skype me for five minutes once in a while so that I can practise *not* answering with a big "Bonjour !" (as I did the first time I Skyped the IT technician... and then died in a puddle of shame and confusion as only French words of apology came into my head)?
In the mean time, I'm planning to listen to some radio shows and repeat after the actors...

Licence Creative CommonsThe above photo was taken in Kyoto, in April 2013.
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