The second I saw the "We're Hiring" post on the Cupcakes and Cashmere homepage, I emailed it to my boyfriend with the subject line "Wanna move to L.A.?" At the time, we had been living in Manhattan for two years, but to my enormous surprise, he wrote back, "Okay!" From that moment, I started reaching out to references, polishing my resume, and preparing for my interview. The entire process took just over a week, with editorial tests and emails upon emails between Alina and me, but I knew from the start that the video call portion would be the most important. It was my only opportunity to convey "in person" to Emily and Alina that I was the right person to invite into a small team—from across the country, no less. It was one of the most exciting but also terrifying weeks of my life, but spoiler alert: I got the job. Here are the ten tips I used to land my dream job over Skype:
The interview process for my role at Cupcakes and Cashmere included three video interviews—two calls with Alina, and a final, longer interview with Emily. Needless to say, I spent much more time deciding which blouse I would wear than which pants worked. A good rule of thumb is that you should choose the fanciest version of what you imagine you'd being wearing to the job on a daily basis. As a mentor once told me, "It helps them envision you in the role." In the end, I ditched my usual white button-down and J.Crew blazer for professional, but approachable blouses that were more appropriate for a creative role. I had a few days to prep for my final interview with Emily, so I invested in an on-sale Joie blouse (pictured above), since I knew it was a brand she loved, just in case she asked where it was from, and one that would give me a confidence boost.
While you don't necessarily have to have a blank wall behind you—though that works as well—the most important thing is to make sure there are very few distractions in the background. My desk in my New York apartment was across from my couch and coffee table, so I angled my computer so that the camera just caught the top of my (clean) couch and that the stack of books on the coffee table was out of sight. If they want to know all about your favorite books or collection of tchotchkes, they'll ask.
Running a test call is the equivalent of making sure you know how to get to the interview location. It minimizes room for error if you add the interviewer ahead of time, make sure the lighting is correct, and double check your wifi/Skype functionality.
That being said, be prepared for technical difficulties. Despite running several practice rounds with my boyfriend's computer, when Alina called me the first time, my microphone didn't work. While less than ideal—I later learned that Alina takes this as a sign of unpreparedness—I did my best to turn it into a positive situation. Successfully handling technical difficulties can show that you're calm under pressure and solution-oriented. For my own interview, I also felt that it helped break the ice since Alina and I were both laughing by the time I figured out my mic issue.
As with any interview, it's important to practice, but not to the point at which you memorize your answers and become an automaton. For example, before my interview, I jotted down the answers to questions that called for specific answers, like "What are some of your favorite clothing brands?" For my response, I didn't transcribe my exact answer, but instead listed several brands that I wear often and had also recently been featured on the blog, like Elizabeth and James, BB Dakota, and Scotch and Soda. For other questions, I recommend only writing down a script for the beginning of your answer so that you have a jumping off point, but answer candidly, which comes off as more genuine. For example, I find the inevitable "Tell me about yourself question," the most difficult to start, but once I had a jumping off point ("I graduated from college two years ago, at which point I moved to New York City to pursue journalism."), it was easy to go from there.
Maintaining eye contact (or, rather, camera contact) is equivalent to an in-person handshake. While it can be awkward to look into the camera at the top of the screen, rather than directly at the person you're talking to, from their point of view, you're maintaining a connection.
Maintaining professionalism is vital in most interviews, but personality can be just as important, especially over video calls. Because you aren't in the same room with your interviewer, many of the cues they'd take in person from your mannerisms and way of holding yourself don't shine through as clearly. For each of my interviews, I was careful to smile and give the impression that I'd be a positive addition to a four-person office.
While a handwritten note is a nice touch, it isn't necessary for Skype interviews—one reason being that video interviews often take place because the candidate lives too far away to meet in person. By the time your letter makes it to their desk, they may have already made their decision. To avoid delay, I sent Alina and Emily each quick emails telling them how much I enjoyed speaking with them, and made sure to reference one particular part of the conversation I most enjoyed. Below is the actual email I wrote to Alina first-thing the following morning (though I could have benefitted from maybe one fewer exclamation point).
After sending off an application, the first thing you should do is change your phone settings so that it notifies you whenever you get an email. Sure, I may have spent a week sprinting to my cellphone every time it made a noise, but it paid off. The evening after my first interview with Alina, she emailed me to ask if I could speak in ten minutes. The purpose of the call was for her to feel confident that I would move to Los Angeles if I got the job, so it lasted all of five minutes, but I would have missed it completely had I kept my phone on silent.