Telephone and video interview advice

So, great news, a potential Employer or Recruiter arranges a telephone or video interview, but what next? How do you improve the chances of snagging your dream job?

Although a remote interview can mean a more relaxed environment, the end result is exactly the same as a more traditional, face-to-face meeting; your fate is in the interviewer’s hands, so please don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Be assured that it most certainly is not “just an informal chat”. You should treat it as you would a face-to-face interview and be equally diligent in your preparation.

The following advice from our Consultants and Hiring Managers should help you ace your remote interview.

Telephone interview advice

Minimise disruptions and distractions

Be aware of what is happening around you and let other members of the household know of your forthcoming interview so you’re not disturbed.

Any pets should be kept out of the room and you should close the door; the last thing you want is for Fido to interrupt your call as you’re talking business. Similarly with kids; arrange the interview for a time when someone else can look out for them and keep them occupied, away from you, but if this is not possible please forewarn the interviewer.

Even if it’s a voice call, rather than a video, keep emails, magazines and other distracting visuals out of sight and switch the TV, radio and other phones OFF (not just on mute).

Please do not be tempted to start using your keyboard during a call, whether to Google the answer to a tricky question or to read an important email, the interviewer WILL be able to tell.

Be personable

A friendly voice and a sense of humour is a sure way to ease conversation and quickly establish rapport with the interviewer. Injecting some fun into your answers also helps breaks down barriers. On a telephone call pay particular attention to your voice inflection because when you can’t see someone’s facial expressions, the tone can play as big a role as what you’re saying. Be aware that on the phone people often come across as flat/unenthusiastic.

Be Punctual

Ensure you’re ready 5 minutes early, as you would a face-to-face meeting.

Request feedback throughout

During a phone interview you obviously can’t read the interviewer’s body language to know if you’re on track, so, when in doubt feel free to ask: “Is there any area you would like more detail on?


Phone interviews are often used (in the first instance) to reduce time and unnecessary travel costs at the preliminary stages. In this instance, especially if the employer is not providing a relocation package, show how committed you are to make it happen yourself, eg let them know that your house is already on the market, which instils confidence and expedites the hiring process.

Ask questions

When the interviewer is done talking, ask smart, pre-prepared questions about the job and company to demonstrate your interest and research.

Say thanks

Before hanging up, thank the interviewer for his or her time and, just as you would in a regular interview, draw the interview to a close in a professional manner including

  1. Ask if they have any further questions
  2. Ask them how you did
  3. Ask them how the selection process progresses from here
  4. When you might expect to hear further
  5. Finally, of course, thank them for their time and re-iterate your keen interest in this opportunity.

Video interview advice

When attending a video interview, whatever format you’re using (Teams, Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts etc), you should also consider the following to portray yourself in the best light possible:

Eye contact

It will feel natural to look at the interviewer’s image whilst on a video meeting but you should try instead to give a sense of eye contact by looking directly into the web-cam, otherwise it can appear as though you’re looking away from the interviewer. The best way to do this is to minimise the window containing the interviewer’s video and position it as close to your web-cam as possible. Keep your notes at eye level also – if you’re eyes keep dropping you don’t want the interviewer thinking that you’re checking your phone or are otherwise distracted.

Facial awareness

Are you aware of the facial expressions you use when talking? Don’t worry, you’re not supposed to! But using a video camera gives you the ability to view your face on screen. It may put you off when speaking and one way to avoid this is to practice talking whilst looking into a mirror. Get used to how you look when you speak and you will feel more confident when talking to your interviewer via camera. Some people prefer to conduct video meetings standing up, as this naturally sets you up with more energy, which is critical in an interview.

Getting shirty

Dress to impress! You’re still attending an interview regardless of where it’s being held and turning up in your pyjamas no matter how tempting (or comfortable) isn’t going to score you any points with the interviewer. It’s a good idea to keep in mind also that certain prints and colours may appear louder on a computer screen than they do in the cold hard light of day. Bright colours and flowery patterns should be avoided, instead, wear colours that compliment your skin tone.

He’s behind you

Things aren’t obvious to a person when it’s behind them. You don’t want the interviewer to judge you on what they see in your background, so check out what they will see beforehand. Keep the background as neutral as possible, against a plain wall is ideal, and avoid unnecessary clutter or particularly busy rooms. Please also ensure you are well lit, facing into the light, which avoids any ominous silhouettes.

Houston we have a problem

Of course you should think about what you’re going to say and ask in the interview, but what about the process of “attending” the actual interview itself? Does your microphone register your voice clear enough? Is your camera quality sufficient? Is your internet connection capable of transmitting your video call without interruptions? Test these things before the actual day and order in better equipment if required.

As with all other forms of interview, please ensure you are punctual, arriving in the virtual lobby 5 mins before the scheduled meeting.

Practice makes perfect

If you’ve never had a video interview before, or even if you have, it’s a very good idea to have a mock interview with a friend that you trust. Are you coming across on camera in the best way? Are you pronouncing words clearly enough? Is the lighting suitable? Get the other person to give you feedback not only on what you say but how you say it and present yourself. This will prove invaluable and will give you more confidence in your meeting.

Follow up

After a successful phone or video interview, you will likely be invited to attend a more formal face-to-face interview; why not prepare yourself by reading our Interview Tips and Interview Question pages?

Also, please remember to politely follow up after your interview, rather than waiting for the interviewer to do all the chasing.