Telephone and Video interview tips

August 3, 2020

Top tips from University Centre Peterborough.

Interview types – Telephone interview tips

Telephone interviews are frequently used as a way of identifying potential candidates for interview. You need to prepare just as you would for any other interview including your research, preparing potential answers to questions, developing questions for the employer, knowing your CV and their job description.

1. Practice

Talking on the phone is not as easy as it sounds, so practice. Record yourself to hear how you sound and practice until you become more confident. Test your voice out by calling friends or family and asking them how you sound. Do you sound enthusiastic, positive and confident?

Decide how you will open the conversation such as: “Thank you for calling me. I’ve really been looking forward to this phone call. I think [the company] is doing great work in [a particular field or project], and I’m really excited by the prospect of being able to contribute.”

2. Find the right location:

You should look for a quiet, space where you won’t be disturbed. It should have a good signal so practise a few telephone calls before you decide on the location. Turn the TV/radio off and put all other phones on silent. Do not stand near a mirror or somewhere where you can see your reflection.

3. Be Prepared!

Although you may not know exactly what questions will come up, you do know it will be related to your experience. Therefore you should have a copy of your CV and a copy of their job description. To ensure you are really prepared, it would be good to make links between your experience and the role as much as you can prior to the interview. Use the STARS approach.

Note pad and a pen are a necessity, and have a glass of water to hand. Also remember to have your phone fully charged, and the charger to hand.

4. Get into the right frame of mind

It would be a good idea to ensure that you are comfortable. Wear something that makes you feel professional, this may help you answer the questions to a higher standard. Stand rather than sit, smile as you talk to the interviewer.

Answer the phone yourself.

5. Clear and concise answers

You should speak clearly and concisely, many phone interviews have a set time frame. Stop talking when you have made your point. It is a good idea to listen out for tells such as ‘Thank you.’ ‘That is interesting’, these normally mean that you should stop talking.

Make sure your answers are not long-winded; use the STARS approach.

6. Employers can only HEAR you!

The interviewer cannot see you so your tone of voice is important. You need to sound enthusiastic, positive and confident. This will be helped by you speaking clearly and avoid mumbling. Another good way to ensure you sound positive is by smiling as you answer questions.

Take notes and ask for clarification if needed.

7. Don’ts!

Just like in a face to face interview your sole focus should be the questions you are getting asked. Therefore do not smoke, eat or chew gum during the call. Although this may seem obvious, it is very easy to get carried away at home and slip into ‘normal’ speech/actions that we would do if we are on the phone to friends.

Extra information

Interview types – Video interview tips

There are essentially two forms of video interviews:

  • The live versions – a virtual interview with one or more interviewers in real time, usually over Skype, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams or Zoom
  • The taped format – requires you to record your answers in your own time and send them back to the employer to review at their leisure.

Apply the same principles as you would for a 121 and group interview; fully preparing, wearing appropriate business dress, having the right resources to hand etc.

You may not be used to talking in front of a camera, so take the time to practise a mock interview using different software. Pay attention to your body language, voice and background noise and ask feedback from your friend on how you come across.

Make sure you familiarise yourself with the video tool you’re using; they all work slightly differently and getting to grips with them will help you feel more confident going into the interview, while also reducing the risk of any accidental technical glitches.

Find the right location:
You should look for a quiet, bright, uncluttered space with a neutral background where you won’t be disturbed.

Make sure your face is fully visible, position the camera so it is looking down at you from a slight angle. Simple lighting technique- place two lights in front of you either side of the screen.

Test your equipment
While technical glitches can happen they may still reflect badly on you so it’s important to test the equipment beforehand.

  • Make sure you have good power supply and that your battery is fully charged just in case you have to move location
  • If you’re interviewing live check that your internet is running at a good speed. Make sure you’re not doing anything that could affect the video quality like downloading.

Don’t forget those last-minute safety checks
Those final minutes before the interview are crucial. If you’re interviewing live it’s a good idea to log in early to give yourself time to get ready and deal with any issues.

However, make sure you don’t accidentally start transmitting before you’re ready – put the microphone on mute and pop a post-it note on the camera just in case. Then give the camera lens a wipe to remove any smudges.

The trick to a successful video interview is to approach it as you would the traditional, face-to-face version, while not underestimating the differences. Some will be more confident using technology than others, but time taken to properly prepare will truly make all the difference.

A good youtube video to watch is…How To Prepare For Video Interviews

Just in case/if things go wrong!
Before the interview, ask for a contact phone number to call in case of technical difficulties.

  • If the video stops working, call them immediately and ask if you can continue by phone or reschedule
  • If noise interrupts you e.g. a siren, apologise and ask for a few minutes until it has stopped
  • If someone enters your room unexpectedly; apologise and ask for a few minutes, mute your mic and turn off the camera, deal with the interruption quickly and return.

Extra information