Acing the Phone or Video Interview

Many companies conduct preliminary screening interview with a phone or video interview before asking candidates in for an in-person interview. Such calls are real interviews and should be treated as such. (You won’t get a chance to shine in person if you don’t “pass” the screening interview.)

In addition, because many jobs are done remotely today, a face-to-face interview may take place via video/Skype conferencing software.

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So it’s vital that you understand how “real” these interviews are in a hiring manager’s or recruiter’s eyes. It’s also important that you feel comfortable interviewing over the phone or via a screen, so depending on your familiarity speaking on the phone and/or talking to people via video, we’re here to help you ace these types of job interviews. Take a look below at our tips.

  • Whether on the phone or via video, make sure you’re in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted.

Most in-person interviews take place in an office without interruptions. You need to find a place where you won’t be interrupted during the phone call/Skype session. (After all, you don’t want this to happen.)

If a recruiter calls and asks if you have a few minutes to talk, it’s OK to ask if you could set a time to talk later or ask to call back in a few minutes. Truly! You really should make sure you’re in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. (We know a woman who was on vacation with her daughter when called by a recruiter for a screening call. The woman asked if she could call back in a few minutes, drove to a park, asked her 10-year-old daughter to go play where she could see her for a few minutes and then called the interviewer back. She did well and was called in for an in-person interview and eventually was offered the position.)

  • Dress as you would for an in-person meeting.

Even if the interview is by phone only, it’s still wise to dress well, even in the same clothes you would wear for an in-person meeting. Doing so puts you in the right frame of mind: it’s a job interview and it needs to be taken seriously so serious clothes are called for!

Dressing job-interview appropriate is even more important in a video interview because, well, the interviewer will see your face, shoulders, possibly even your torso. You could dress as some newscasters do – in a jacket/shirt/tie/blouse and wear jeans because only your top half will be visible. But, seriously: dress for the part completely. You’re going to be “on,” and just as actors dress according to their roles, you should dress correctly for this important role: that of job candidate.

  • Additional pointers.

In many ways, a phone or video interview is much like an in-person interview: the rules still apply.

  1. Be on time.
  2. Make sure you know the exact number to call, or if the interviewer will call you.
  3. Be ready for some introductory chit-chat.
  4. Speak clearly. This is even more important via phone/video. You also want to be sure to smile. The interviewer may not see your smile on the phone, but your tone of voice does change when smiling and it makes you come across as friendly.
  5. If on a Skype chat, make sure you look into the camera, not “into” your screen. (You may need to practice this with a friend.)
  6. Be careful of answering “Uh-huh.” “Hmm,” and so on. These may be fine in an-in-person setting where the interview can see you but they may be lost in a phone/video interview and, especially over the phone, may not be heard at all. In addition, if on a phone interview, remember that you and the interviewer can’t see each other and therefore can’t pick up on visual clues. So it’s even more important that you speak clearly and even ask if the interviewer understood what you meant.

If you’re thinking of how to best come across in a job interview, you’re probably looking for work. If so, check out Helpmates’ current job opportunities. If you find a few that interest you, follow the instructions on the job description and/or contact the office listing it.

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