Technology has changed the way employers screen candidates, and not just with the use of automated resume screeners. While previously more commonly used when a job candidate was considering relocating from another city, companies are increasingly undertaking telephone and video interviews as a way to vet candidates before inviting them for more intensive, face-to-face interviews. And if you want to get into remote work or freelancing, video conferences are virtually guaranteed.
Interviewing for a job is always a little intimidating and stressful. The stress can increase when you’re really eager to get a position. Parents who suddenly find themselves supporting their children on their own, or anyone who has undergone a change in their life that merits a career change can acutely feel the pressure to perform well in an interview.
Stress can also increase when you don’t feel prepared for an interview. If you have never done a video interview, fear of the unknown can heighten your anxiety. Most people have likely not done a phone interview, let alone video interviews (often held via Skype) that present their own unique challenges.
Here are some of the things you’ll need to keep in mind when you are preparing for a phone interview.
It’s Not ‘Just a Chat’
While these types of interviews might feel more low pressure than in person, they are just as important. You’ll need to do the same levels of interview preparation and remember that the first impression you make via your phone or laptop will determine whether you get to make an impression in person or not. As well as researching the company, practicing your answers, and all the other usual interview prep, here are some specific things you can do to nail phone and video interviews.
Select a Location Carefully
Don’t just go about you day and take the call wherever you happen to be when your phone rings. You need to select a location carefully and find somewhere:
- with good internet or cell coverage
- with good lighting (for video calls)
Intend to be at home when you are in a video interview. Pick a room with a door you can shut to block out any noise that may be going on in the house and avoid interruptions. If you have pets, make sure they are not in the room. If you have young children at home, you’ll want to make sure an older sibling or someone else is responsible for them during your interview to avoid interruptions.
Once you have a quiet and private room, you may want to consider rearranging a bit. Don’t have anything behind you that is too busy. You also don’t want to have any mess behind you. Declutter! Find the window in the room and make sure you are facing the window—you don’t want it to be behind you. Natural light is always best, and you should always be facing it, not having it behind you. This will give you the clearest picture in a video call.
Dress for Success
Everyone knows that you need to dress well for a face-to-face interview; obviously, the same principle applies for a video chat. For a phone chat, you might be tempted to just wear, well, whatever you happen to have on when your phone rings, but this is a mistake. In addition to affecting the way others see you, what you wear has an impact on your mood, your mindset, and even your thinking ability.
Remember the old adage, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” If you are interviewing for an office position, you should have on business attire. Even if you are interviewing for a freelance position where you will work from home for the most part, looking like you could walk into an office and sit in on a conference will give a prospective employer more confidence in your abilities.
Be on Time
Even though you don’t have to leave your house for your interview, you can still be late. If your phone rings while you’re halfway through eating a sandwich or doing the dishes, you’re not going to be in the right headspace to ace the interview. Ensure the phone, tablet, or computer you will be using is on and that the relevant software is connected. You don’t want to miss the interview because a potential employer couldn’t get through to you.
Get all pets and kids taken care of and in their proper places. Go to the room you’ve set up for the interview. Double check your appearance, and take a drink of water to make sure your throat isn’t dry. It is really important to be sure you’re prepped and ready to go at least 15 minutes before your call is scheduled.
Clear, Slow, and Loud
When some people are nervous, they start talking faster. In a video interview, you must be very conscious of how you are projecting your voice as well as your speaking pace.
Speaking clearly is important in face to face interviews as well, but over audio or video chat that importance is heightened. Audio through a phone or computer speaker is never perfect and your interviewers won’t have the same access to non-verbal cues as they would face-to-face. So speak just a little slower, louder, and clearer than normal to cancel out this effect.
Engage in Active Listening
All interviews require active listening. Active listening shows that you’re paying attention not only to the questions or the statements the interviewer is making, but also to the meaning that might lie behind their words.
When you’re speaking on the phone, you need to listen very actively to make sure the conversation flows. You don’t have any access to your interviewer’s facial expressions or body language and some subtleties of tone are lost over the phone. It is important to be on the aural lookout for the right times to speak and the right times to listen.
This practice is important on a Skype call as well – even though you can see them, you have limited visual access to your interview and video quality during calls is rarely perfect. A short pause after the interviewer stops speaking is fine to ensure they have finished talking and you do not start speaking over them.
Bonus Tip: if you find phone calls awkward, talking into a mirror can help — it might sound silly, but your own face in the mirror makes it feel more like a face to face conversation.
Sit up Straight and Smile
Body language is very important on a video chat, so sit up straight and don’t be afraid to show your natural smile. Sitting up straight exudes confidence, and you cannot ask a potential employer to have confidence in your ability to do the job if you do not have confidence in yourself. Smiling helps to break down initial walls a bit and make both you and the interviewer feel more comfortable.
This is surprisingly important during phone calls, too. Sitting up straight opens your airways and helps you project your voice, sounding more confident. Smiling while you talk on the phone might feel a bit silly, but it will actually change the way you sound to the other person, helping you convey more warmth and create a better connection despite the distance.
Keep a pen and paper next to you while you talk and take notes. These will be useful when preparing for the in-person interview and help you remember the names of your interviewers. Before the interview starts, note any questions you might have as well as relevant experiences so you have an easy reference point. Having your resume handy can also help keep your mind focused when/if you get a tricky question.
Be Ready for a Video Interview and More with CCI
At CCI Training Center, we endeavor to help you learn as much as possible for your new career. But we don’t stop there. We also offer resume building, as well as interview preparation. We are not merely content to have you pass our classes, but we want to see you safely settled in your first position of your new career.
Our courses are designed to be flexible for the adult learner. Whether you are just out of high school and looking to transition from an hourly job to a career path, or a single mom who needs to make sure she can work and take care of her kids while training for a better career-- you will find a schedule that will work into your life.
CCI Training Center is committed to providing everyone an opportunity to educate themselves and enhance their lifestyle. No matter your age or socioeconomic status, we can help you provide the kind of life you want for you and your family. Our staff can help you find the courses you need, obtain financial aid should you need it, and set you up with a schedule of courses that will put you on the path to your new career.
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