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How to Nail a Phone/Video Interview

Technology has changed essentially every aspect of our lives, including looking for a job. More and more employers are using phone and video interviews to conduct not only first-round interviews but all interviews. And although many agree there's nothing better than being in the room, there are a lot of things you can do to make yourself noticed in a phone or video interview.

How to Stand Out in a Phone Interview

Phone interviews are often used to narrow the pool of applicants. So this is the time to stand out. Follow these tips to sound as qualified and professional as possible.

  • Talking on the phone, especially with someone you've never met, can feel awkward. Ask a friend or family member to do a mock interview call with you so you can get comfortable with it.
  • Just in case you miss the call, make sure your outgoing voicemail message sounds professional.
  • Answer the call by saying your name, instead of "hello."
  • Don't be afraid to take a few seconds before answering a question, just try to avoid really long silences.
  • Do your best not to talk over the interviewer. When they're asking a question wait a second to answer to ensure they're finished.
  • Try to smile while you talk. Even though the interviewer can't see you, facial expressions change the way your voice sounds.
  • Have your resume and a few notes handy, especially if you're nervous.
  • Take a deep breath, and try not to talk too fast.

Tips for a Successful Video Interview

Many organizations use video for the first round of interviews. Or, if you're interviewing for a job in a different geographic area than where you live, the video chat might be your only interview. Use the tips below to get yourself camera-ready in no time.

  • Test your camera/microphone/speakers ahead of time.
  • Check your internet speed. Generally, you need at least 1 Mbps (megabits per second) for reliable video.
  • If you're using Skype, make sure your username is something you don't mind an employer seeing.
  • Make sure your device is charged or plugged in during the interview.
  • Eliminate distractions such as pets, loud noises, people, your unmade bed, or your unique collection of artwork that might draw attention away from you.
  • Think about lighting. Ideally, face an open window for natural light that won't hit the camera.
  • Dress professionally (at least from the waist up).
  • When choosing what to wear, stay away from stripes/plaid. Those patterns tend to mess with cameras.
  • Make sure you don't wear colors that match the wall behind you. No one wants to interview a floating head.
  • Remember to look into the camera, not the picture-in-picture of yourself.
  • Speaking of looking at the camera: Try to have your camera at eye level. This mimics real eye contact with the interviewer.
  • Keep hand gestures to a minimum. Even with a fast internet connection, a lot of movement can cause the camera to "stutter."
  • It's okay to have your resume or notes handy, but don't rely on them. Looking down or away from the camera too much can make you appear untrustworthy.
  • Relax. You've got this.

We can't guarantee these tips will land you the position. But, the best way to approach any new task is to be prepared. By putting some thought into your phone or video interview beforehand, you can stand out among your peers as someone who has it together. 

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