How to Ace Your Next Phone or Video Interview

Posted: November, 24, 2020 | Categories: Interview 101 for Job Seekers


There’s no doubt that the Coronavirus is changing the way we experience the hiring process. According to LinkedIn, more than half of the working professionals in the United States have started changing their in-person meetings to either phone or video. With everyone practicing social distancing or self-quarantine, the necessity for virtual communications has increased significantly.

While phone interviews existed in the past, they typically served as a screening step which then led to an in-person interview. Now, phone interviews can serve as full length interviews or as a prerequisite to a video interview. The idea of video and phone interviewing is not new, but the ability to interview remotely has become increasingly important to employers. With the convenience of these methods of interviewing and recent technological advancements, there is a strong likelihood that your next interview will take place over phone or video. However, there are some significant differences between interviewing in-person and interviewing virtually that you should be aware of. The following are some tips on how you can navigate these differences and ACE your next phone or video interview.




Phone Interviewing

1. Prepare

You should still prepare for a phone interview like you would an in-person interview. Preparing for a phone interview includes having your information handy, using a cheat sheet, and even dressing for success. Our article, How to Prepare for a Phone Interview, goes into detail on how you can set yourself up for success.


2. Understand Your Tone

Since body language doesn’t play a role in a phone interview, it’s important to focus on other ways you can express yourself, such as your tone. You want your tone to exude confidence, professionalism, and respect. Record yourself answering common interview questions, play them back, and then tweak accordingly. It’s much easier to understand how you come off to others if you hear it yourself. 


3. Speak Clearly and Concisely

A phone interview isn’t a verbal race; take your time when speaking and pause in between sentences. You won’t be able to see your interviewer’s reaction, so it’s important to give them the time to respond or interject. If the interviewer needs more details, this will give them the chance to ask. 


4. Ask Smart Questions

Just like in an in-person interview, a phone interview should be treated as a way for you to determine whether you are the right fit for the role. Ask follow up questions wherever you can such as, “How has the company changed since you joined?” Asking smart interview questions will help you learn more about the company and the role you are applying for. You can find more examples in this article on Smart Questions to Ask an Interviewer


5. Don’t Interrupt

Just like you wouldn’t cut off an interviewer in person, you shouldn’t do so on the phone. Be conscious of the fact that you don’t have non-verbal cues to indicate to you that your interviewer intends to continue talking. Give them a moment to finish their thought before you start talking or asking for clarification on a question (they might already be planning to do so!).


6. Stay Calm During a Miscommunication

Again, a lack of non-verbal cues can lead to confusion. Let’s say the interviewer misunderstood one of your answers and took it negatively. Instead of frantically trying to explain what you meant, take a moment (again – pause) to reconcile your thoughts and clarify your previous answer in a calm, collected manner.




Video Interviewing

Elements of video interviewing (such as technological comprehension and the ability to see yourself on screen) can be intimidating. However, video interviews don’t have to be scary. If you know what to expect and how to prepare, your video interview will feel seamless.


1. Test Your Connection & Technology

Nothing is more embarrassing than joining a video interview late, cutting out half way through, or showing up as a distorted, pixelated mess. Before you go into your video interview, check that your internet speed, camera, and audio are running properly. Give yourself plenty of time in case there IS something that needs to be fixed. 


2. Find Your Ideal Interview Space

Choose a quiet, well-lit space, with a neutral background. Video interviews give a sneak peek into your personal life, so make sure that your space is clean, free of distractions, and comfortable (so you aren’t fidgeting!). Tuck yourself away from pets, young children, and house mates (along with any other potential background surprises) and don’t forget to turn off all your phone and computer notifications!


3. Dress Professionally

Just because you are having your interview in the comfort of your home, doesn’t mean it is okay to shy away from business attire. Dress as if you were going into the interview in person…this means dressing up on your bottom half too! It doesn’t matter that no one will see your dress pants, dressing up fully and primping yourself before your on-screen début will help you feel more professional, confident, and ready to make a great first impression. 


4. Stay Focused

Make sure you are looking at the screen during the interview. Whether you are speaking or not, it can be distracting to the person on the other side of the monitor if you are constantly looking away. Make sure your screen is at eye level and avoid looking around you during your interview.


5. Practice, Practice, Practice

LinkedIn found that 54% of job seekers say the interview phase is “moderately to extremely challenging” due to a lack of confidence and uncertainty. In order to prevent any insecurities, practice video conferencing with your friends or family to get comfortable talking on camera and to work out any kinks. You will be thankful knowing that you’ve figured out how to get that (dang) microphone to work with a friend instead of your future employer.



By JWilliams Staffing

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