Phone & Video Interviews

Phone and Video Interview Advice

Phone and Video interviews have become an increasingly popular method of prescreening candidates for jobs. It’s easy to be dismissive of phone interviews due to their apparent informality; however it’s becoming a more and more important part of the recruitment process and should be treated just like a face-to-face interview. Here are a few tips to help you get it right.

Have hard copies of the following:

  • Job Description / Job Advert
  • Profile of the company – basic description, geographical scope, number of employees, growth history. This will let the interviewer know that you have prepared for the job interview and you are keen
  • Copy of your CV
  • A bulleted list of items you want to cover in the interview

Have a browser open (not on video interviews). It’s always best to give the interview your full attention, listening and answering questions diligently. However, take advantage of the fact that your interviewer can’t see you, or your screen. Open their website in a browser or have another window open to your search engine of choice. It’s a good idea to rely primarily on the information in your notes, however if necessary a quick search can help you find the answer to difficult questions.

Disable extra phone/video program features. Whether its call waiting, answering machines, additional phone lines, conference calls, turn them off, these extra noises can be a distraction and cause embarrassment, sabotaging your chances to move the interview forward.

Make the call from home. It’s important to make the call in an environment with minimal noise and where you can speak with a reasonable volume. The more controlled the space you’re calling from the less room for distractions or other unanticipated events. Be aware of any pets or young children and insure your family knows that they should not disturb you during the call.

Give yourself time. Many job seekers make the mistake of trying to fit a phone or video interview during their lunch hour at work. But what if the interviewer is running late or the call takes longer than expected. Make the call when you have a minimum of 45 minutes free. Most phone interviews don’t last that long, but if you end up hitting it off with the interviewer the last thing you want to do is have to cut them off. Even if you are interviewing for a low stress job, rushing will increase stress so give yourself plenty of time.

Answer the call with your name. Take charge by answering the phone or video call by stating your name. This lets the person on the other line know exactly who you are and saves them the trouble of asking you. It also helps to know exactly how you will greet the caller and start the conversation.

Smile. Even if you are on a phone call, smile, when you speak it brings energy and excitement in your voice. When speaking on the phone your voice loses half of its energy during the transmission. Make sure your enthusiasm gets across by overcompensating. Since no one can see you, pretend you are in a soap opera and overact.

Wear a suit, a full suit. On a phone call a suit will motivate you and change your posture and body language. When on a video call, make sure you wear a full suit. There is nothing more embarrassing than having to get up from your chair to grab a certificate or a passport and letting the interviewer see you in a pair of jeans on the video call.

Watch your body language. Everyone has different call body language habits. Some people pace, tilt their head down (guilty!) and others, sit still as a statues. Find the middle ground and pay attention to your body language. Hold your body upright and don’t be afraid to use your hands to be expressive. If you are the type of person who is on the move when on the phone, give yourself an enclosed area that is large enough to avoid wandering from room to room.

Mute. It’s always a good idea to have a glass of water during an interview, if you need to take a sip, use the mute or hold button.

Say thanks, fast. Unlike a face to face interview, there is no opportunity to build rapport on your way out. Send a thank-you note an hour or two after the interview. This helps you close the loop and reiterate your interest in wanting to meet the interviewer in person. The goal of a phone interview is to get a face to face meeting. If you can’t send the email right away make several notes about the call while they’re fresh in your mind. These will come in handy when you send the thank you note later that day.


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