The interview is an irreplaceable part of the hiring process. It is pretty much impossible to get hired without going through at least one interview and usually you will need to pass muster multiple times with multiple people. In person interviews are the norm but phone interviews have been a staple for many years now too.
The newcomer to the group is the video interview, but with employers and job seekers alike looking for ways to save time and money, it’s becoming increasingly popular. Phone interviews, which used to be almost exclusively used as an initial screening tool, are being used more often and later in the process.
Most of us know that preparing for an interview is critical, absolutely critical. Blow the interview and you don’t get the job; it’s as simple as that. So how do you prepare? Is it different preparing for a video interview than one in person? If it’s just a phone interview you don’t have to worry about it as much, right? Wrong.
The first thing to know is that almost everything you would do for an in person interview (sans practicing your firm handshake!) you should do for a phone or video interview. Period.
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Now it may seem obvious that you should research the company, the position, and the person you are interviewing with. Also obvious that you should practice your answers and prepare questions that demonstrate your knowledge and interest. But some others might not seem so obvious, like showing up early. Of course it’s a basic piece of advice for an in person interview but for a phone or video interview too? Yes.
1. Be in the room where you will take the call at least 5 minutes before the scheduled time. This will give you a chance to collect your thoughts, and catch your breath. Just because you are at home doesn’t mean you should take the call in the laundry room or pick up the phone after running upstairs or inside from the back yard. This will also give you time to review your notes, the job description, etc. Get yourself in a professional and work focused frame of mind.
How about dressing for the interview? Surely that’s different than for an in person interview? Nope.
2. For a video interview you should dress the same way that you would for an in person interview. Again, being at home isn’t an excuse for being casual. You want to make the same good impression. And not looking good just from the waist up! Dressing for success puts you in a more professional mood and will help you come across as the talented individual that you are. Which is why we suggest dressing for a phone interview as well. Maybe not the full regalia of a suit, but certainly something clean and not sweatpants or pajamas.
Video and phone interviews also have some unique things that you need to think about, things you wouldn’t ever worry about for an in person interview.
3. You need to be in a quiet place, free from distractions and extraneous noise. If you take the call in your car, turn it off, roll up the windows and create a quiet space. Be aware that background noise that seems unnoticeable to you can be amplified by cell phones or computer microphones. For video interviews double check that no one will walk behind you. Also make sure that the desk or table you sit at is free from clutter and that nothing messy or inappropriate is visible behind you either.
4. Make sure your equipment works. Check that you have good reception if you are using a cell phone, and make certain that it is charged. If you have one, utilize your land line to avoid a dropped call, static, or other interference. Temporarily disable call waiting and/or silence any notifications that you usually get. Test the microphone and webcam on your computer before any video call, and don’t wait until the last minute to do so. If there’s a problem, you want time to fix it well before the interview.
5. Speak slowly, clearly, and pause a little longer to allow the interviewer to interject. On a phone interview, neither of you will have the usual facial or body cues that let you know when someone wants to speak. With a video call, there is a lag time as it transmits. Be sure you speak clearly to avoid mishearing and pause a little longer at the end of a sentence or thought to allow the feed to catch up or the interviewer a chance to speak without having to interrupt you. One last video tip: look into the camera not at the screen. This way you will be looking the interviewer “in the eye.” Otherwise, it’s the equivalent of looking down at the table during an in person interview.
The interview won’t ever be obsolete in hiring and phone and video interviews are only going to gain in popularity since the cost and time saving benefits are huge. Make sure that you don’t make the mistake of not preparing properly for any type of interview you have!
Looking for a new job? Read: How to Optimize Your Job Search, A Comprehensive Guide for Every Job Seeker