Careers advice: How to ace a phone, video or Skype interview

12 March 2019
Been offered an interview via phone, video or Skype? Discover Careers Coach Donna Walker’s advice on how to secure your success.

Phone interviews

Phone interviews are used as a first level screening stage and may be outsourced. The format of the interview will depend on the organisation and the type of role you are applying for. They could be relatively informal and cover questions like Tell me about yourself and Talk me though your CV or they could follow a list of questions closely aligned to the skills and experience required in the role. In either case, the phone interview is your opportunity to convince the recruiter to invite you to a face-to-face interview.

  • Prepare as you would for a face-to-face interview: dress smartly and stand up during the interview – this will help to make you feel more confident.

  • Ensure that you are in a quiet environment where you won’t be disturbed.

  • Have your CV in front of you and consider making notes of key achievements that provide evidence for the competencies required in the role, for example when you have demonstrated teamwork, leadership or communication skills.

  • Do not memorise your answers but ensure that they are concise – no more than two minutes long.

  • As the interviewer can only hear your voice and not see your body language ensure you smile, vary the tone of your voice and speak clearly and slowly.

Video Interviews

Increasing numbers of employers interview applicants via video; this can save time in the recruitment process, act as an early sifting method, and allow recruiters to share the interview with colleagues.

A video interview is one performed using a computer, webcam and interviewing software. In a pre-recorded video interview you answer pre-recorded questions; this usually involves you hearing or viewing the question and then pressing record when you are ready to answer, you will have to give your answer within a specified time.

  • Look out for practice questions which video interview suppliers may allow you to access prior to starting the actual interview. They will not be the same as the real questions, but they will allow you to familiarise yourself with the process. 

  • Whilst it is important to be concise, try not to get distracted by the time limit when you are answering. 

  • Please note that while you will not be able to go back and re-record your answers the recruiters can rewind and re-play them, so it is important you think carefully before you answer.

  • You will usually be asked fewer questions than you would at a traditional face-to-face interview. 

  • Questions tend to be a mix of standard competency based questions rather than those on career motivation. They tend to be more focused on practical questions about how you could apply your skills to the role. These are sometimes referred to as situational judgement questions, where you will be given an example of a workplace situation and be asked what you would do in that situation. The employer will be looking to see how, in answering these questions, you are demonstrating the skills that they require.

  • Ensure your technology (headphones, webcam, etc.) is working correctly.

  • Dress as you would for a face-to-face interview, speak slowly and clearly, and remember to smile – try to let some of your personality through.

Skype Interviews

Skype interviews are often used when the candidate and company are in different locations. You should prepare exactly as you would for a face-to-face interview but ensure that your technology works so the interview goes smoothly.

  • Ensure that the webcam and headphones are attached properly and that you have a strong internet connection. Perform a test run with a friend or family member to confirm that the system is working.

  • Select a quiet, appropriately lit place that does not have a distracting background.

  • Add the recruiter as a Skype contact in advance and log on 15 minutes before the call to avoid any last minute technical problems.

  • Dress professionally and look straight into the camera as this is the equivalent to making eye contact. Sit up straight and show interest and enthusiasm. It is harder to build rapport over Skype, so remember to smile.

  • Keep calm if you lose your internet connection or get cut off during the interview. These things happen, and it will not be the first time this has occurred for the interviewer. Call them back, explain what happened and resume the interview. (You may want to have a tablet or phone on standby as a backup device).