A woman on a computer screen smiling because her virtual interview was successful and she got the job.

Traditionally, virtual interviews were used to conduct a pre-screening for an in-person interview and to answer any questions not addressed in the résumé. But, today, phone interviews and video interviews are replacing in-person interviews as we have transitioned to remote work. 

The most important advice for any type of interview also applies to virtual interviews: Practice really does make perfect.

The Phone Interview

The most common types of information generated from a phone interview are:

  • Credential checks 
  • Experience check 
  • Predictive information 

Phone Interview Preparation

Prepare just as well for a phone interview as you would for an in-person interview.

When scheduling a phone interview with an interviewer, find out:

  • The time of the call (and clarify any time zone differences)
  • Who is calling whom (and on what phone number)
  • How long to expect the call to last
  • Any specific preparation required for the call
  • Who will the call be with (name, job title)

Think about the questions you might be asked and prepare questions ahead of time that you will ask in the interview. Create a “talking points” outline. These are key points you want to cover in the interview. This can include:

  • Position and industry-specific accomplishments
  • Unique assets you possess as an employee
  • Information about the company that you learned from your research that ties into your skills, abilities, and qualifications

The more you prepare, the better. Review the company’s website. Google your interviewer. Make sure you are thoroughly familiar with the job description or job posting.

While you’re on the call: 

Convey enthusiasm through your voice pitch, tone, and volume.

Pick a location that will be free from distracting background noises 

Dress for an interview — even if it is a phone interview. This can help put you in the right “frame of mind” for your interview.

Listen carefully to the question you are being asked before answering. Be specific with your achievement, statistics, and numbers. 

Keep your answers brief and to the point. 

Video Interviews

There are two types of video interviews — live interviews (using Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, etc.) and recorded Question-and-Answer interviews, also called “time-shifted” video interviews. 

In a recorded interview, all applicants are asked the same questions, and the hiring manager can review and rate the responses. More common, however, are live video interviews.

Video Interview Preparation

Consider your background and camera position. Make it interesting, but not distracting. Prop up the computer so that you are not looking down at it and practice where to sit so you are framed correctly by the webcam.

Make sure you have Internet connectivity and that your webcam and microphone are working. You may also have to download the software if it is the first time you are using the application. Give yourself extra time to do this! 

Check your technology, lighting, and volume. Make sure your connection is good and the webcam is providing a decent picture. If you are using a laptop, plug it in so you have plenty of battery for the call.

Dress from head to toe. You never know when you might need to stand during an interview. 

When on the video call:

Look at the webcam when you speak. When you look into the camera, it appears to the interviewer that you are looking at them directly.

Smiling is an important strategy for video interviews. On a video interview, a blank expression comes across as a frown.

Be mindful of your nervous habits. Just like in a face-to-face interview, the interviewer will notice when you twirl your hair or chew your lip.

At The End of the Interview

As with an in-person interview, inquire about what the next step will be and email a thank you note as soon as you are off the call. Follow-up is key after a phone or video interview. Research indicates that employers are less likely to keep job seekers up-to-date about their prospects with the company after a phone interview than with an in-person interview.

Checklist for a Virtual Interview

  1. Print out a hard copy of your résumé (make sure it is the same version the interviewer has), cover letter, and the job posting/job description.
  2. Prepare your list of questions you want to ask in the interview.
  3. Assemble your talking points and company research.
  4. Record a professional voice mail message on your phone.
  5. Have a glass of water nearby in case your throat gets too dry.
  6. If using a cell phone, have your phone charger and an outlet nearby.
  7. If using a laptop, make sure it is plugged in and is charging.
  8. Eliminate any distractions and put up a “Do Not Disturb” sign.
  9. Have your calendar or schedule handy in case you are asked to schedule your next interview.

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