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Feb 22 2011

Seven tips for being interviewed over Skype

Now that the tools for podcasting are so well developed and all you need is a computer to produce an interview show, more people will find themselves being interviewed over Skype.

Microphone

Well-known podcasts like Mixergy and This Week In Startups also use Skype to interview entrepreneurs. We at White Glove Apps did our first interview on the BitBanter podcast over Skype. Here’s our advice for entrepreneurs being interviewed for an audio podcast:

1) Write out likely questions and answers beforehand

There are a number of obvious questions that any entrepreneur should be prepared to answer. For example,

  • How did you come up with the idea for your product?
  • Who are the people on your team and what are their roles?
  • What stage is the company at now?

It’s worth writing down the answers to these questions, mostly to make yourself think through them ahead of time. Just don’t read the answers verbatim or you’ll sound too rehearsed. Also don't feel the need to give out the prepared answers if the questions don't come up.

2) Make any special announcements up front

It’s easy to get into the flow of the interview and forget to discuss something specific you wanted to announce. We forgot to mention that we were looking for a developer; fortunately BitBanter was kind enough to have Salman back for a segment on the next episode. Vikas Reddy and Jeffrey Powers from Occipital did a good job of this on their Mixergy interview: they had Andrew Warner start the interview by asking them about their new 360 Panorama project they were excited about.

3) Make a cheat sheet on the interviewers

Especially if there are multiple people interviewing you, it’s nice to have the names, pronunciations, and some information about the interviewers handy. That way, you can make sure to use their names and perhaps mention how what you’re talking about relates to something they’re interested in.

4) Allow 5-10 minutes of pre-show warm-up

When you get on the Skype call, take a few minutes to talk to the interviewer before the interview starts. That way you can iron out any technical difficulties and get comfortable with the interviewer.

5) Don’t touch your computer: It will make noise

It’s incredible how strongly keyboard and mouse noise are picked up by a computer’s microphone. If you listen near the beginning of our BitBanter interview, you can hear me typing on my keyboard. So if there’s any information you need from your computer, have it on your screen when the interview begins. For example, have your contact information (twitter, facebook, and web site) in front of you so you’re ready when the interviewer asks you how people can find you online.

Microphone listening to an RSS feed

6) Use the mute button if you have to make noise

Skype has a mute button you can use during calls. Have that visible on your screen so if you have to look something up on your computer, you can do that without adding much noise to the podcast recording. The mute button also comes in handy if your baby starts crying or a truck drives by your window.

7) Consider using a transcription service

Either you or the interviewer might want to transcribe the interview so you can put the text on your web site. (Make sure to get the interviewer’s permission first.) The transcript can be valuable content for your visitors: some people prefer to read text rather than listen to a podcast to find the nugget they’re seeking. And because search engines index text, a transcript is a good way to get relevant indexable content on your site. We’ve used SpeechPad and have been happy with it; it’s also what Mixergy uses. Other options include GMR Transcription Service and Verbal Ink.

Other writers have covered how to do a good job when given the chance to get interviewed in writing or on radio or TV.

Have you been interviewed over Skype? Do you have any tips to share?

Image credits: Microphone photograph - Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net; RSS microphone: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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