Prepping for Virtual Interviews

There are many different ways to interview now, but interviewing via phone and video is more and more common.

Phone Screens and Interviews

There are many good articles on phone screens. A phone screen is a preliminary interview, which takes place before a company brings you in for a formal interview. It means your resume is good, but they aren’t quite sure. Sometimes these are scheduled, but sometimes the person will call you out of the blue. You might even call to inquire about a position and find yourself in the middle of a phone screen.

An phone interview means that they schedule a time and consider this to be an actual interview. There is really not a huge difference between a phone interview and a phone screen. As the person being interviewed, you should treat both very seriously.

Here are some tips for phone screens and interviews:

1. Make sure you’re on a phone with good reception and very little noise around you. Yes, this can often be difficult, but having an interview where you’re constantly screaming “what?!” because you’re at an outdoor cafe and trucks keep passing will not endear you to the person on the other end of the line.

2. Think about the points you’d like to make before you start talking. You should always have some idea of what you’d like to say, including your selling points. However, don’t be afraid to stray from these points. For instance, you might tell an anecdote that makes something on your resume seem much more important.

3. Answer the questions clearly and thoughtfully. Since the person on the other end doesn’t have any visual context, they focus on what you’re saying. This is good, since the quality of your ideas, answers and skills will come through. However if you’re nervous, it may make you seem disinterested. If you’re nervous, remember to pause and take breaths. Every question is not a race to see how quickly you can answer it. It’s ok to pause, take a deep breath, collect your thoughts and then answer.

Video Interviews

While video and Skype interviews aren’t yet as common as phone screens, they’re becoming more and more prevalent. There is also a lot of advice out there about video interviews. As with phone interviews, if you’re the person being interviewed, you want to make sure that you are treating this as seriously as you would if it were an in-person interview.

Here are some tips to help you deal:

1. Look behind you. Love that bright pink moose head that you found on the side of the road: think it might help to show off your quirky side? Most likely your interviewer will find it distracting, as will clutter, bright lights and no lights at all. Make sure your background is as clear and calm as possible because that’s what the interviewer will see. Also, make sure you’re the main focal point in the center of the screen and that you’re well lit.

2. Look directly at the camera whenever possible. Yes it is always easy for you to look at the person who is speaking, but you also want to convey (as much as possible) that you’re making eye contact.

3. Don’t type notes. It may seem like you’re extra prepared, but since they can’t see what you’re writing, it just looks like you’re typing to someone else. If you think it’s appropriate, go old school and write it down on a sheet of paper. That way it doesn’t seem like you’re chatting with someone else while the interview is going on.

In the end, it’s important to remember that phone screens, phone interviews and phone video interviews should all be taken as seriously as in-person interviews.