Phone & Skype Interviews

How to prepare for a phone or Skype interview

  • Find a quiet place to do your interview where you won't be disturbed.
  • For Skype interviews, make sure your background is appropriate.
  • Have your CV & some key pointers in front of you.
  • Don't rush your answers and remember to listen carefully.
  • Be aware of your body language and what you're wearing.
  • Jot down the main points you covered once the interview is over - this will be useful to go over before your face-to-face interview!

Phone and Skype interviews have become a popular first stage of the interview process, providing employers with an opportunity to narrow down their pool of candidates before meeting them in person. These interviews should be taken as seriously as a face-to-face interview. To be rejected so early on in the application process due to under-preparation is just frustrating and, moreover, avoidable! Here are TalentPool's top tips for interview success:

Be ready

Get everything set up and ready at least 5 minutes before the interview is due to take place.

  • If the caller is 3 minutes late, wait! They may be slightly held up and will probably call you very shortly.
  • If you haven't received a call in 7 minutes, send an email asking the employer if they are still available to speak.
  • If the caller is 15 minutes late, assume the employer is busy and you'll need to rearrange the interview. This is rare but can happen, especially if something more urgent has come up on the employer's end.

No interruptions or distractions

There's nothing more embarrassing or off-putting than someone bursting into your room halfway through your interview. Alert all family members or housemates to the time and duration of your interview. Stick a note on your door reminding them not to disturb you! Remember to also turn off all your other electronic devices - nothing should be distracting the interviewer from focusing on you and vice versa!

Where should I carry out my interview?

This is particularly important to consider when you're doing a Skype interview. If possible, try and take the call in your kitchen or living room as this will look more professional than your bedroom. Ideally you'll have a blank wall behind you and if you have no other option but to take it from your bedroom than make sure that there is no unmade bed or messy clothes in sight!

Similarly for a phone interview, it's better if you can do it in an environment where you'll feel more focused - do not do it from your bed!

Prepare a few key pointers

It's a good idea to have a few pointers jotted down to help avoid stress-induced memory blanks or to prompt you if you have something that you really want to remember to slip into the conversation. Do not have too much written down, though, as this will be more distracting than helpful! A few keywords is enough. For Skype interviews, position your notes as close to the camera as possible so that the interviewer cannot tell that you have any there.

Make sure that as well as your pointers you also have you CV in front of you - the employer will!

Speak clearly and take your time

If you're speaking on the phone then you can't use hand gestures or facial expressions to get your point across. Don't mumble or talk too quickly as the interviewer might have a difficult time understanding you. It can be hard when you're nervous but try to maintain a level of enthusiasm in your tone of voice. If you're doing a Skype interview then we recommend using headphones and a microphone to prevent any awkward feedback occurring.

We'd recommend doing a Skype test call before your interview just to check that your microphone works correctly.

Listen carefully

Particularly during a phone interview, questions tend to be fired quickly and it can seem more intense and less conversational than a regular interview. It's important you demonstrate your listening skills here rather than panic and blurt out pre-prepared answers that don't really answer the question. It's ok to take a few seconds to compose your answer - you can buy a little time by saying something along the lines of "That's an interesting question...".

Body language

If you're doing a Skype interview, make sure that you've positioned your camera well - you want your face to be well-framed and centred. Maintain eye contact with the camera (don't look at the monitor or yourself, however tempting). Maintain good posture and use hand gestures to make your point - don't fidget!

If it's a phone interview you're doing, remember that just because the interviewer can't see you doesn't mean you should neglect your body language. If you're sitting upright then you'll definitely be more focused. Use headphones so that you can still gesticulate with your hands - this will help you express your points and sound more natural.

Dress professionally

Although you're not actually going in to meet the employer, this isn't a reason to under-dress for the occasion. If you're dressed the part, you'll feel the part. Even though the interviewer cannot see what you're wearing in a phone interview, we still recommend wearing semi-formal attire to get you more in the zone. You'll definitely be more alert than if you're slumped on the sofa in pyjamas. Check out our Pinterest boards for examples of what to wear!

Finishing up

Remember to thank your interviewer once your interview has come to an end. Jot down key points of conversation - it will be useful to remember what was discussed should you get invited in for a face-to-face interview. It's always good to be able to reference back to a previous discussion and not to repeat the points you've already made - or to remind yourself of any particularly great points you did make!

Phone interviews, like face-to-face interviews, require preparation. Make sure that you have researched the company and its employees. For more detailed information on how to do this, have a read of our general interview advice article.

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