So, you’ve passed the initial CV stage – next up is that all-important phone interview or perhaps a Skype, Zoom, Google Meet up interview. Even if it’s just ten or fifteen minutes, what you say and how you project yourself over the phone or video determines whether you get to the next level. How should you prepare for that initial conversation?
Before your video or phone interview
Research, research, research
Be prepared for questions asking what you know about the company. Stumbling on this question will expose your lack of planning, so gather your facts and figures ahead of time to show your commitment to the role. You’ll also have the benefit of having your notes and space laid out in front of you.
Search Google news for the latest news stories about your prospective employer – show them you have thought outside the box – and are clued up on news that may not be on their website yet.
Sharpen your phone voice
Practice by doing a mock video or phone interview with a friend, family or a coach. They’ll be able to spot any areas for improvement, particularly with verbal stumbles such as speaking too fast or slow, not enunciating properly, stuttering, or ‘filler’s such as ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’. Clear and confident articulation over in an online interview will get you closer to a face-to-face interview.
Prepare your own questions
Having your own list of questions at the ready will show your level of interest about the role and enthusiasm to prove your potential. Don’t overwhelm the interviewer with a barrage of questions – and, equally, don’t just say you’ve got no questions.
You can acknowledge that the interviewer has covered all the bases and answered your questions, but go one step further to show this. Think about the company’s current circumstances, the projects they’re working on, potential challenges ahead; take notes during your interview and draw on anything that piques your interest.
Create your interview ‘dojo’
Create an environment that will enable you to be calm and relaxed. Make sure that any pets, family or flatmates are kept at a distance, as any interruptions can throw you off track. Also, turn off your TV or radio while you’re speaking on the phone or video. If you’re on a laptop or tablet, switch off noisy notifications and make sure your mobile phone is on mute.
During the video or phone interview
Have your CV in front of you
You’ll likely be asked to talk through your experience and career. What the interviewer can’t see won’t hurt them, so while the video or phone interview is taking place, have your CV in front of you to refer to anything that relates to the job you’re interviewing for. It can also serve as a gentle reminder of your credentials including qualifications and timescales of employment.
Remember your interview etiquette
Listen carefully, take your time to respond, and only jump in during gaps in the conversation – and bear in mind that calling via video including Skype or Zoom can lag behind by a few seconds.
When on a video or phone interview, don’t be shy about taking notes – making that clear lets the interviewer know that you’re listening and paying attention, and you may need those notes for your face-to-face meeting.
When speaking, be clear, concise and articulate. If you smile, you’ll actually sound more pleasant and personable. Only use the interviewer’s first name if they allow you to.
After the video or phone interview
Follow up the call
When the interview is coming to a close, thank the interviewer for the call, and for taking the time to speak to you.
After a couple of days, you can then follow up with an email. This isn’t to chase them up, but to thank the interviewer for their time, that you’re still interested in the role, and that you look forward to speaking with them again soon. Make sure you know what their timeframes are for making a decision.