Phone and Video Tips
It is becoming increasingly common for organizations to conduct at least a portion of their interview process over the phone or through web-based video platforms such as Skype. Distance interviews require the same preparation steps as an in-person interview, however, they can also involve some unique considerations. Learn tips for success specific to phone and web-based interviews.
Often a phone interview is the first impression an employer will have of you that is not on paper. Phone interviews sometimes serve as a pre-screening process before in-person interviews, but can also be the employer’s primary method of interviewing. Below are some tips to follow for a successful phone interview.
- Ensure that your voicemail greeting is professional, since your interviewers may hear it when they contact you
- Find a quiet, private place with good phone reception and be sure your phone is charged.
- Minimize all auditory and visual distractions in your environment, so you can focus on the conversation.
- Practice, if possible. Have a friend or Career Services call you to do a practice phone interview so you get the feel of being interviewed over the phone.
- Keep your resume, some notes, note cards, or an outline in front of you to remind yourself of key points you want to cover with the interviewer. You don’t want your responses to sound scripted, but you don’t want to fumble for important points either.
- Consider standing when being interviewed on the phone. Some experts say you’ll sound more professional than if you’re slouching in a chair.
- Consider dressing nicely for the phone interview. It may seem irrelevant since the interviewer can’t see you, but you will project a more professional tone if you’re dressed for the part.
- Don't feel you have to fill the silence. If you’ve completed a response, but the interviewer hasn’t asked his or her next question, don’t start talking just to fill airtime. They may be taking notes or preparing for the next question.
- Don't chew gum or food, or drink anything noisy.
- Avoid allowing too much silence between when asked a question and when you answer. It is still okay to think first, but make sure you verbalize that you are thinking because they cannot see you.
Employers will sometimes offer online interviews using web-based video programs such as Skype or FaceTime. Sometimes these will be pre-screening interviews, but sometimes they will be the primary interview for the job. Below are some tips to help successfully navigate an online interview.
- Download Skype, FaceTime, or the employer's chosen web/video-based program in advance and test that it works on your computer.
- Create a professional username.
- Practice test calls with your friends to become more comfortable with using the program.
- While you are the focus of the call and the video, remember that the viewer will see what is behind you as well. Think about how your camera is set up and what can be detected behind you.
- Check that the lighting doesn't create shadows or make you look too harsh on screen.
- Conduct a quick test the morning of the interview to ensure the camera and microphone are working.
- Silence your other devices and be sure that your call will not be interrupted.
- Just as during an in-person interview, write a few notes about topics that you want to discuss during your call.
- Focus on the camera, rather than the screen, when your intent is to maintain eye contact. If you are looking at the screen it will appear you are not looking at the interviewers. Move the video screen of the interviewer so that it is near the camera in order to maintain better eye contact.
- Pick an outfit that is professional and not distracting to the interviewer. Royal blue, navy, and sky blue often look great on video. Professional dress should be used just as you would in an in-person interview.
If you have a web-based interview and do not have your own technology, University of Idaho Career Services has access to laptops with Skype that you can use in one of our small, private rooms. Be sure to schedule with us well in advance in order to have everything properly prepared.
Interview Kickstart Video Series
Career advisors each share their own interview advice in several fun videos!