How to succeed at phone and video interviews

It’s no surprise that phone and video interviews are becoming increasingly popular.

For employers, it’s a chance to conduct a screening interview without committing a lot of time and funds.  

For you, the applicant, it’s a chance to have an interview without spending money on travel. If it’s a phone interview, you don’t even have to wear a suit. You can do the interview from your apartment in your pajamas, right?

It can be tricky to succeed at interviewing when you can’t shake someone’s hand or make in-person eye contact. It’s harder to connect — literally and psychologically.

Here are some tips to help you succeed:

Phone interviews:

  • Dress professionally to get in the interview mindset.
  • Test the phone connection and assess if the environment is quiet.
  • Refer to notes, your resume and bios or LinkedIn profiles of your interviewers. Since they can’t see you, you can keep them in front of you.  
  • Stand up to project energy. Without visual cues and a handshake, you may need to sound especially friendly.

Skype and video interviews:

  • Skype and video interviews are better than phone interviews in the sense that you can see each other, and thus communicate better. But they have their own challenges.
  • Don’t panic. Technology can be unpredictable, so prepare for the unexpected. You might lose the connection, the screen might freeze, or there could be some buffering.
  • Very briefly pause before answering questions to make sure you are in sync.
  • Do a mock interview. See how your outfit looks on screen, and practice looking at the camera while talking. Try to project extra warmth and friendliness.

“It’s not the same, but you get used to it, and used to the sound of your voice and seeing your image on screen,” said Jorimel Zaldivar, a career counselor at Fordham University. “You are there to represent yourself as a candidate with energy, and ready to work with a team.”

The more comfortable you become with this new and popular interview technology, the better. It looks like it’s here to stay.

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Hillary Mantis consults with law students, pre-law students and lawyers about career and admissions issues. She is director of the pre-law program at Fordham University and author of “Alternative Careers for Lawyers.” You can reach Hillary at altcareer@aol.com.