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6 ways to prepare for phone & video interviews

Posted by: Rebecca Craighill
Company News

We’ve already been through how to make a great first impression over the phone, but before saying hello, what steps can you take to make sure you’re fully prepped and ready to impress? Whether it’s over the phone or via video call, read on to find out.

1. Be ready & make time

The biggest mistake you can make going into a phone interview is being unprepared. You should treat this like any other interview and make sure you’ve got all your bases covered before going in. Make sure you’re ready at least 10 minutes before the call, set your stall out, compose and organise yourself, and make sure you’re in a quiet room away from distractions.

If this is a video call, make sure you’re in the right environment, which means a well-lit room with a plain background. The last thing you want is for the interviewer to be focused on the Spider-man poster in the background rather than your amazing skills and dazzling personality.

2. Have info to hand

The great thing about a phone interview is that no-one can see you checking your notes. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a crib sheet in front of you so you’re fully prepped for those hard-to-answer questions. You should also be armed with the job description, company website, your CV, and any inside info you’ve managed to gather during your research.

During a video interview it’s still perfectly fine to have all of this in front of you. Just make sure you don’t start reading from a script. We’d recommend having some of this information on a second computer screen so you can quickly flick to it when needed.

3. Look the part

Just because the interviewer can’t see you, that doesn’t mean you should be taking the call in your pyjamas. Dress smartly to put you in the “I’m professional” mindset, but wear whatever makes you comfortable so that you’re relaxed and composed. 

For a video call, you should wear what you would wear to an interview. Even though the hiring manager is probably only going to see your head and shoulders, you should still make sure you’re as professional as you can be. Another top tip is to position the laptop/camera at eye level so you can stare straight ahead and make eye contact.

4. Rehearse & practice

Phone interviews are usually a little less formal than face-to-face interviews, but that’s not always the case. As above, behave as you would in any interview setting. There might be a little more chitchat but it’s key to show the interviewer that you’re able to compose yourself. Make sure you’re well-rehearsed and ready for anything.

Keep in mind that the hiring manager is probably wanting to see how you conduct yourself verbally. At Navartis, our recruitment consultants’ main form of contact with clients and candidates is over the phone. This is one of the reasons that we spend a good amount of time calling prospective Trainee Consultants before inviting them in for a face to face interview.

5. Technology

Most interviewers will arrange a simple phone call and we’re sure you’re able to work out how to answer the phone. However, there are always companies who will call upon Skype, FaceTime, or even an online video call platform you’ve never heard of. We’ve known some hiring managers switch from a phone call to a Skype call with an hour’s notice, which tests your ability to think on your feet.

Like anything, make sure you do your research and be sure to test out your microphone to avoid any awkward silent movie moments.

6. Active listening

“Are you still there?” – the one thing you never want to hear during a phone interview. The interviewer is going to do plenty of talking and you want to show that you’re an attentive listener. But that doesn’t mean you need to be silent. Feel free to interject (politely) and ask for clarification. There’s also nothing wrong with the occasional “uh-huh, yep, ok” moment to let them know you haven’t fallen asleep.

On a video call this is especially important. A common problem is to become a static image on the screen because you’re not sure how to behave. After all, you don’t want to move around so much that the interviewer becomes sea sick.

A good rule of thumb is to treat this like any other conversation. Forget that you’re a moving head on a computer (or mobile) screen and compose yourself how you would in a normal interview. That means body language is just as important as ever – don’t be afraid to demonstrate your points with hand gestures and open mannerisms.


Further Reading

6 things not to say in an interview & what to say instead
6 essential interview questions you should always ask
7 tricky interview questions & how to tackle them

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