How to prepare for phone and video interviews

With the prevalence of digital technology, some hiring managers may choose to conduct preliminary interviews by phone or video conference. Phone and video interviews can be as challenging if not more so than being physically in the room with your interviewer as it can be even harder to stand out.

In the last few weeks we covered interview tips and common interview questions you are likely to receive in an interview. This week, we cover how to prepare for phone and video interviews.

How to prepare for a phone interview?

Don’t underestimate a phone interview – phone interviews are often used by recruiters or hiring managers for preliminary screening often where employers have received a large number of applications. Usually upon a successful phone interview will an applicant be invited to a face-to-face interview. So it is important to take a phone interview seriously.

Make sure you are in the right mindset. Dressing as you would for any other interview will help you get into the right mindset. Try to sit at a desk or table – it also helps in the mindset but also helps your posture so you can articulate your words better.

In the last few weeks we have outlined common interview questions and strategies – so please have a look at those sections if you want some great tips on interviews. However below we outline five specific phone interview tips that you need to keep in mind that you might not have thought about:

1. Use the landline

If you have access to a landline, you would be wise to use it for the phone interview. Mobile drop outs can kill interviews or destroy the flow of an interview. Not only is it the best connection option available, it will show commitment and effort.

2. Eliminate distractions

Turn off the TV, sit down and have all your phone interview preparation material handy. You need to concentrate a little more during a phone interview so make sure you create or are in a quiet environment.

3. Make a list of questions

Keep your notes close and put some thought into making a list of pre-written questions (refer Part 2 & Part 3 in the Interview series for help). Jot notes down during the phone interview and ask your questions clearly.

4. Speak clearly

To be sure the interviewer can hear you, ensure you speak directly into the phone or headset. Let the interviewer finish speaking before responding to his/her questions as not only is it courteous, but your interviewer might not hear the first part of your response. Be sure to smile while giving your answers; even if the interviewer cannot see you, the tone in your voice will come across as energetic and positive.

5. Use proper etiquette

After the phone interview it’s a good idea to send the interviewer a thank you note. This would be a good opportunity to also reiterate your key points and show your interest in the role.


How to prepare for a video interview

As with phone calls, video interviews can be tricky – the good news is, at least during a video interview, the hiring manager can see you.

Video interviews are a great way to connect and can save both parties the hassle of travel. Before your video interview make sure your technology is up to date and working. Take the time to also check that your surroundings are clean and tidy. It may seem obvious, but in the midst of delivering an answer, it can be easy to forget that you’re sitting in front of a camera.

Video job interviews are becoming more common each year. Make sure you’re prepared to get in front of the camera with the following video interview tips.

1. Preparing for a video interview

Check your surroundings. Be sure to set up your webcam is in a quiet, distraction free zone. Make sure the background is free from clutter and embarrassing items like laundry piles. Try to avoid too much background noise like cars passing or ticking clocks.

2. Equipment check

Get familiar with the webcam and microphone and understand how they work. The audio and video must come through clearly and the camera should be set at eye level. If you have a friend or family member who can assist doing a trial run, this will help prevent potential equipment issues. You’ll be more at ease during the video interview if you do a technical trial run.

3. Charge your battery

Charge your laptop or tablet the night before. If you are using a tablet be sure to set it up on a solid surface so that the screen doesn’t look shaky.

4. Lighting check

If you put a light behind your computer your face will be illuminated. This will help avoid shadows.

5. Appearance

When preparing for a video interview, appearance matters a lot. Even though you are not interviewing face-to-face, you should still wear business attire. To avoid contrast issues, stick to solid colours that aren’t too dark or too light and stay away from stripes and plaids .

6. Rehearse some video interview questions

Your video camera will have a recording function. Prior to the interview, rehearse your video interview questions and answers direct to camera. It will give you some great insights to how you are delivering your answers so that you can make adjustments in advance, and make you feel more confident in the interview.

7. General video interview tips

  • Keep it professional. Be sure that if you are using Skype or another video platform your user name is professional just as you would with your email address and social media accounts.
  • Maintain eye contact. Look directly into the camera, try to avoid looking into the centre of the screen. Speak directly into the microphone so the interviewer can hear you clearly.
  • Take a pause. Let the interviewer finish before giving your answers. Digital video streaming can be delayed so take a couple of seconds before responding.
  • Keep your resume close. Finally, it’s not a bad idea to keep your resume close. Just be sure not to look away from the camera too much. Having notes can be a good tool to refer to between the video interview questions.
  • Remember that they can see you. Unlike a phone interview, the interviewer can see you. It may seem obvious, but in the midst of delivering an answer, it’s easy to forget that you are on camera. Remember to smile and come across as warm and personable. You have more opportunity to connect and bond with the interviewer than in a phone interview, so use it to your advantage.

If you do video interviews regularly, perhaps consider taking a course to polish your skills in front of the camera. MentorSelector is thrilled to share an exciting new initiative by one of our Mentors, Shelly Horton! Shelly shares her wealth of experience in media and provides an online training program for anyone who needs to step in front of a camera. For more information about this course and how to enrol, click here!

If you haven’t gotten up to the interview stage, take a look at our other articles below to make sure your Cover Letter and CV are up to scratch:


To learn more about MentorSelector or to find your mentor or life coach, please click here. We are always looking for more mentors to join our family – its a great initiative that is mutually rewarding for both mentor and mentee. Register now to become a mentor or a mentee.