For many businesses, the telephone interview is a relatively inexpensive and yet quick alternative to get a first impression of an applicant’s capabilities. While an interview by phone or via Skype often acts as the first meeting of the company and the applicant, a job interview can also take place over the phone. If the physical distance between the business and the applicant is too big, a Skype interview or telephone conversation can make establishing first contact much easier.
The telephone interview has advantages for the applicant as well. The applicant gets an insight into the prospective business and creates a good base and point of contact for further communication.
Telephone interviews are often advertised as only a short preliminary talk, but herein there is of course the risk that the person is not only looking for a small chat, but wants to know exactly what experience you have, how communicative you are and what technical skills you possess. You should also carefully consider in advance, what information you want to pass on to the recruiter, so that you can leave the best possible impression and present why you are the right person for the job!
Just like with a classical job interview, preparation is incredibly important for a telephone, or rather video interview, and it pays to be ready for anything. For that, you should not only find out about the company through their website or press releases, but also scour social networks, such as XING or LinkedIn for information relating to the firm and their partners.
Lay-out a piece of paper, ready with notes and information about yourself that you want to convey, and place it somewhere it can be easily read – so that you don’t forget any important details and you can get a small plan of procedure ready for yourself. You should also always have your application documents and the business information, which you picked out, within arm’s reach.
To check your spontaneity, a time for the interview will not always be agreed upon. Therefore, you should expect a phone call at any time and be prepared for it. In the period before an upcoming video or telephone call, or rather for the entire application phase, you should always answer the phone with your name and surname. I also recommend having ready a piece of paper or a small notepad with pre-prepared information, so that you can react confidently and quicker.
To achieve the most positive outcome from a Skype or telephone interview, places with a lot of noise (such as street noise or people talking) should be avoided. If you happen to be in such a place when you get a spontaneous call, you should ask for an alternative date for the interview, and you can logically use this as justification for postponing. A quite place is the most suitable for having all necessary documents laid out; e.g. at the desk at home.
During video chats, via Skype or FaceTime for example, you should always make sure that you are wearing clothes that you would have worn during a job interview in person. Additionally, the working space in front of you as well as the background should be suitable for this type of interview – for this I recommend a single-coloured surface or a still and unchanging background (without a window). Another important point is good lighting – your person and face should be easily recognisable and no dazzling items should be located within the field of view.
Many companies would like to know from their applicants, why exactly they have applied in this company for the advertised position. At this point often follows further questions popular in job interviews. For such a situation, it is advisable to have your CV or notes regarding your career to date on hand, to give your interview a list of the most important points concisely during the interview via PC or telephone. A one minute presentation of this kind can be prepared well for a telephone or Skype interview and can be customised to the specific situation. Of course, you should also make sure that it does not sound read off or that, during a video call, the recruiter is not just watching you constantly looking at a piece of paper.
To show your competence and ability to communicate, questions during video or telephone interviews are not only welcome, but desirable. A word of caution – because the type and quality of these questions in an interview quickly indicates to an employer which characteristics the applicant possesses, ask well-considered questions that express interest in the job and paint you in a good light. Issues that can be addressed here are, for example, how the initial training in the position takes place or which further training opportunities there are. You should not speak about holiday time or a thirteenth month salary in the first interview if possible.
If possible, during a telephone interview try to act as if the interviewer is sitting directly opposite you. An attitude that is too laid-back and informal leads quickly to a dull expression and tone of voice. Your interviewer will notice exactly how the demeanour and concentration of the person sitting across from them is. Laughter will be perceived positively even through the telephone handset. I recommend laughing on the telephone and adopting the right attitude, which will in turn create a positive atmosphere.
As your interviewer can’t see you through the handset, you should form answers which are clear and memorable, yet still emphasise your open-mindedness and sociability. A lack of communication skills will be particularly harshly scrutinised by an interviewer conducting an interview not in person. How quickly you speak and clarity of expression are also important points that should absolutely be kept in mind. An additional tip from me: it always makes a good impression when you take note of the name of your interviewer and address them personally.
At the end of the telephone or video interview you should discuss the next steps.
If you follow my tips, you are well on your way to successful employment. I wish you all the best with Skype and telephone interviews and hope that you can now cope with them well and be invited to heaps of job interviews.