Telephone and Video Interviews

Read this article to learn how to prepare for various types of technology-based interviews. Remember, the interviewer is looking for the same information during the interview no matter what the format of the interview is – using technology or face-to-face. You always have to pay attention to your posture and body language.

Introducing technology to improve interviewing is an ever growing area; in fact FirstJob, a San Francisco-based HR Tech company have now developed a recruiter robot to increase recruiting efficiency. Long-distance interviews are commonly used in the early stages of the recruitment process. The Institute of Student Employers found over 50% of its members had used video interviewing and as far as possible you should treat them as you would any other interview.

They may be “live” interviews with an interviewer – for example on Skype or by telephone – or they may be pre-recorded questions that you answer on video for review by the firm at a later time. The most important fact to remember is that the employer wants to find out the same information as they would face-to-face, and the questions that you will be asked will be similar to those in a standard interview. As such, your preparation needs to be just as thorough.

Top Tips

Getting Ready

When readying yourself for a long-distance interview, ensure that you have:

  • Privacy for the interview, away from noise and distractions.

  • A decent connection! If it is a telephone interview it is best to use a landline, but if using a mobile make sure you are in an area with a good reception. If using a laptop or mobile phone for the interview, make sure that it is fully charged.

  • Your CV or application form available as a prompt, as well as some paper and a pen for making notes. However, be careful not to have too many materials in front of you that may become a distraction.

  • Dressed smartly. Even if you are interviewing via telephone, do not just sit in your pyjamas as research shows this will affect your overall attitude. Do not wear busy patterns or overly bright colors for a video interview.

Live Virtual Interviews

Telephone Interviews

The main difference to any other interview is the lack of visual cues, but your body language is very important:

  • Sit up straight or even stand, as it will help you to project your voice effectively.

  • Smile! By smiling, you will sound friendlier and more confident.

  • Try to avoid monotones and use gestures as you would in a normal conversation; they will tend to make your voice sound livelier.

  • For key questions such as "What are your strengths?" it may be useful to signpost the interview to indicate how you will be answering this question e.g. "I have three major strengths relevant to this role, the first is…" This will help you structure your time and alerts the interviewer when you will be coming to the end of a question.

If there are any long silences after you have answered a question and you are not sure whether to continue, you can always ask "Would you like me to expand further on that?”

If the employer calls you for an impromptu interview, you are within your rights to ask to schedule another time when you are in a better situation to talk.

Skype or Live Video Interviews

The added element to Skype or "live" video interviews is obviously that the interviewer can see you and visa versa. Therefore:

  • Think about your setting and consider what will be seen on-camera during your interview.

  • Think about the image you project and how your clothing will be perceived.

  • Bear in mind the distance you sit from the camera.

  • Consider practicing with a friend, asking them to feed back on how you and your surroundings appear on camera.

  • Consider your interaction with the interviewer, look into the camera (not the screen!) and take into account possible lags between the visual and audio. Follow visual cues from your interviewer so you do not interrupt before a question has been completely asked.

  • Dial or log in at the correct time – arriving 10 minutes early works in person, but not for a virtual interview.

  • You should also have a backup plan (such as the correct phone number to call) in case your internet connection should suddenly go, or camera stops working!

Pre-Recorded Video Interviewing

If you are invited to a pre-recorded video interview, you will be sent a link in advance and will need to log-in to a system where there will be a series of pre-recorded questions to answer. This system means you do not have to travel to face-to-face interviews, and unlike a telephone interview you are able to communicate using body language too. There is, however, no opportunity for interactions with the interviewer.

There has been a large jump in the prevalence of pre-recorded video interviewing in recent years. A recent Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) survey revealed that 42% of its members had used them. Employers including Accenture, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Clifford Chance, Goldman Sachs, Nestle, Shell and Unilever were using them in 2017/18.

Top Tips:

  • Consider the advice given above for Skype interviews with regard to presentation and preparation.

  • Speak clearly and enunciate – there is no opportunity for the interviewer to ask for clarification.

  • Once you have begun you are not usually allowed to rewind or restart the interview, however there may be the opportunity to try a practice question before the recorded questions start.

  • Often you will be able to pause the interview after you have answered one question and before you move onto the next. However, you are usually not allowed to pause after you have heard the question and before you start answering, so ensure you have done sufficient preparation in advance.

  • Usually, you are only given one shot at an answer. However, if you are allowed to make several attempts, try to get it right sooner rather than later; a big video interview provider has found that multiple attempts may begin to dilute a clear message.

  • There may also be an element of time pressure built in, for example, you may be given the question, have 15 seconds to consider your answer before an additional 60 seconds to record your answer.

Submitting a Video You Have Created Yourself

For some creative roles, in media or marketing for example you may be asked to upload a pre-recorded video that you have created as an early part of the recruitment process. Typically you will be asked to submit your video CV or to answer a question such as "tell me about yourself" or "what are your biggest achievements."

Source: University of Oxford,
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Last modified: Monday, March 29, 2021, 1:55 PM