Acing Video and Phone Interviews

Increasingly, phone and video interviews are used to screen applicants because they are cheaper and often more convenient for the employer to conduct than face-to-face interviews. Many of the same principles of effective interviewing apply to phone and video interviews, but some aspects are quite different.

Consider enlisting a friend or family member to conduct a mock phone or video interview with you for practice, using the actual mode you’ll use for the real interview. Be sure you’re in a quiet, secluded place, free of distractions, at the time of your interview appointment.

In the real interview, avoid any behaviors that will cause distracting sounds during the interview, such as chewing gum, coughing, snuffling, sneezing and throat-clearing. Have a glass of water handy in case your throat gets dry or ticklish. If you feel yourself going off on, for example, an unstoppable coughing jag, ask if the interviewer would like to reschedule. For video, avoid visual distractions, such as a person or pet walking into the room.

Just as you should smile in a face-to-face interview to project enthusiasm, smile as much as possible in your phone or video interview. The interviewer can’t see your smile over the phone but will hear it in your voice. On video, you’ll be seen similarly to how you’d be seen in person, so smiles and other nonverbal positive behaviors are called for.

Don’t feel you need to fill lulls in the conversation. If the interviewer doesn’t respond at the end of your answer, ask a question to deflect the conversation back to him or her. Similarly, don’t be afraid to take a good pause before answering any question that throws you for a loop. Pauses and lulls seem much longer on the phone or video, but don’t let them rattle you, and don’t feel you must blurt out an immediate response. Take a moment to think and then respond to the best of your ability.

Since phone and video interviews are often initial interviews intended to screen out candidates, expect the unexpected. Remember that afterwards, phone and video interviews require thank you notes just as face-to-face sessions do.