Resumes, Letters & Interviews

Phone and Skype Interviews

Why companies use phone and video conference interviews:

  • the cost is less
  • the list of questions can be standardized
  • it can be done quickly

The aims on both sides of the telephone are limited. The caller wants a selection of qualified candidates, and the process screens out many candidates. If the call is a straightforward screening call, the caller will likely ask about your experience, availability and salary requirements.

Your strategy is to provide facts that support your resume, with some context about your performance. Try using numbers and facts to be effective, however, you don't want to volunteer anything that could disqualify you. Make every effort to sound professional; follow the interviewer's lead. If they are business-like and wants only facts, give only facts. If the interviewer is more conversational, interact accordingly and build rapport.

Since you are unlikely to win the job from a telephone interview, your goal is to secure an in-person interview with the person who has the authority to hire. Approach the call with that attitude.

Preparing for a telephone interview

Try to reschedule surprise interviews. Say that you have a conflict and suggest a time you can call back. When you call back, be prepared for the call just as you would for a full-dress interview.

Have ready

  • Pen, paper, a calculator, your calendar, and water
  • The job listing and the resume and cover letter which you sent in when you applied
  • A list of your relevant experience which relates to the job you are discussing
  • Short list of questions about the job, company, and position

The techniques of a pro

  • Smile - it comes through in your voice
  • Speak directly into the phone
  • Don't smoke, chew gum, eat anything. Your interviewer can hear everything over the phone
  • Stand up to make your voice sound stronger
  • Avoid verbal utterances like: ah, er, so, hum. This habit is especially noticeable on the telephone.

For a winning performance

  • Be aware that the caller can't see you - can't see your hand gestures, can't see you taking notes. Use an occasional "I see" or "I understand" to indicate you are listening.
  • Pace the call. Let the caller do most of the talking, without interruptions. Try to keep your answers to under 3 minutes.
  • Do use the technique of repeating or re-phrasing questions. It tells the caller that you listened carefully, and gives you time to think about your answer.
  • Avoid the simple "yes" or "no"; add selling points at every opportunity.
  • If you need time to think, say so. You can say, "that's an interesting question, let me take a moment to think before I answer."
  • Compensation issues come at the end of the interviewing cycle, never at the telephone stage. You can truthfully say you don't know enough about the job to state a salary figure.
  • Close with a "thank you". Graciously thank your interviewer for taking time out of their day to speak with you.
  • Be in a quiet place
  • Use a landline, if possible, or at least make sure you have good reception (and your phone is charged). You want to make sure that the employer can hear all of your statements and that you can hear them.
  • Treat a phone interview as an in-person interview. Dressing appropriately will help maintain the air of formality and boost your confidence.

Skype/video conference interviews

Dress for success - Dress how you would for a face-to-face interview.

Clear any distractions - Position yourself in a quiet and de-cluttered room with good lighting so that you are visible.

Conduct a trial run - Test to make sure your audio and video are working properly beforehand.

Look at the camera - If you are looking at the screen and not the camera it will appear as though you aren’t looking at the interviewer(s).

Control body language - Over zealous gestures can appear distracting to the employer and may also distort the image to seem blurry as quick movements tend to lag during video calls.

Keep a professional profile - Avoid username and profile information that could give your interviewer the wrong impression as this will be the first detail they see before the interview.