How To Prepare For Video and Phone Interviews

Preparing for your first video interview? 

If you’re getting ready to graduate, it means it’s time to find your first real job and go through the interview process for the first time.

As students begin to get their feet wet and start the interview process, it might come as a shock that not all interviews are conducted face-to-face. In fact, many times, the first interview (also known as a phone screen) is over the phone.

The phone screen is generally fairly laid back and conducted by a recruiter. During this call, they’ll ask questions about work history, skill sets, pay expectations, and make sure the candidate is a good fit for the role before moving on to the interview process.

Once you’ve made it passed the phone screen, it’s time to prepare for the rest of the interview process. This can be done in a few ways: face-to-face, over the phone, video conference, or any combination of the above.

Preparing for an interview

Whether the interview will be conducted over the phone, via video conference, or in person, there are a few key rules to follow to best prepare. 

  • Research the company. A good place to start is the “About Us” page on the company website. This will show their mission statement, which will give you a good idea of what they stand for and how they compare to other businesses in the same field. 
  • Network. Do you know someone who works for the company? Speaking with a current employee could help give you a competitive edge. 
  • Practice interviewing. You can familiarize yourself with common interview questions and practice answering them (or coming up with answers if they’re difficult). 
  • Don’t memorize answers. While practicing your interview skills, don’t memorize your answers. You don’t want to seem rehearsed during your interview, and you want to seem authentic. 
  • Dress for success. If you’re having trouble deciding what to wear, a good rule to follow is: don’t dress for the job you have, but the job you wish to have. Make sure your outfit is clean, pressed, and lint-free. 
  • Make copies of your resume. Make copies of your resume and bring them with you to the interview in a clean folder or portfolio. Always offer a copy before the interview begins. If your interview is over the phone, ask if they’d like to you share it via email.

With any interview, regardless of how it’s conducted, make sure you show up a few minutes early, even if you’re sitting in an empty video call or waiting for someone to call into a conference line. You want to show that you respect their time by being early and are very interested in the position.

Phone Interviews

Telephone interviews can feel very informal, but don’t be fooled. They’re just as formal and important as any other interview and should be taken seriously. 

Since you won’t be able to make a great first impression with a smile, firm handshake, and freshly pressed outfit, think of another way to shine. 

A friendly greeting and confident tone will help. Smiling (although the interviewer won’t be able to see) will help your voice sound more positive and friendly. 

Now that you’ve made it through the intro, follow these tips to help  you ace your interview:

  • When the interview begins, ask if they have a copy of your resume or if they need a copy emailed to them. They will most likely have it, but offering to send one over shows you’re prepared and ready.
  • Don’t wear pajamas. You don’t have to wear a suit either, but getting ready and dressed will help you feel more comfortable and confident. 
  • Have a copy of your resume in front of you as well as any important notes or information you’d like to have on hand. Take advantage of the fact that they can’t see you and give yourself the best chance of getting a job offer.
  • Don’t speak too quickly, make sure you’re speaking clearly, and they’re able to easily understand your answers without you needing to repeat them. 
  • Eliminate distractions. Don’t have the TV on in the background, keep your pets in another room and make sure your roommates know that you’ll be in an interview so they can keep the noise level down and not disturb you. 

Video Interviews

Video interviews can seem intimidating, but they’re actually not very different from face-to-face interviews. Video conferencing is becoming an increasingly popular way to conduct interviews, especially for those pursuing an opportunity in another city, state, or country.

Follow these tips for a great video interview:

  • Since they’re going to see you, dress exactly as you would if you were interviewing in person. 
  • It can be easy to look at yourself more than the interviewers, but try to keep your eyes on them. This will help keep you focused and engaged. 
  • You don’t have to clean your whole house, but make sure what they’re seeing is clean and clutter-free. A blank wall behind you is best. 
  • The day before the interview, download any necessary software and make sure everything is working correctly.  
  • Make sure your webcam is working properly.
  • Let your roommates and family know that you’ll be in an interview, so they steer clear of the room or area you’re in. 
  • Have a copy of your resume in front of you as well as any necessary documents you might need throughout your interview. 

Ultimately, it doesn’t make a big difference in how the interview process is conducted. What truly matters is how prepared you are. 

After the phone or video interview is complete, you should always send a follow-up email thanking the interviewer for their time. If you don’t have the contact information for those who interviewed you, email the recruiter and ask them to pass along your thanks.