How To Prepare For Your Phone Or Skype Interview

21648331_sToday the hiring process often begins with a brief phone screening with a third-party recruiter or HR associate. The employer’s main purpose is to get some basic information: your salary requirements and availability.

The interviewer also is trying to get a sense of who you are and how you might fit into the company culture. Smart candidates use an initial interview as an opportunity to learn more about the employer as well.

In some respects it’s like a first date: each party is evaluating whether or not he or she wants to take the relationship further.

If you make it through the initial screening interview, you’ll probably be scheduled for a more in-depth phone conversation or, in some cases, an interview via Skype.

On the surface, virtual interviews seem like they are easier than in person. You don’t have to sneak out of the office for several hours for a half-hour interview. You don’t have to worry about finding the office.

Unfortunately, because you’re not meeting face-to-face, it’s tempting to think that a phone or Skype interview is just a formality. Don’t make that mistake.

Spend time preparing for any virtual interview: phone or Skype.  

1) Make sure you’re in a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted. Avoid the urge to interview in your office (even if you have a private office) or in a well-trafficked area like a stairwell. The day you’re interviewing with a recruiter will be the day that your boss decides to take the stairs.

2) If you’re scheduled for a phone interview it’s always preferable to use a landline but if that’s not possible be sure that you’re someplace where you have good cell reception. It’s nearly impossible for a recruiter to conduct an interview when your voice is garbled, or your phone keeps cutting in and out.

If you’re scheduled for a Skype interview test your camera, microphone, and Internet connection well before the interview. If you’re using a laptop, make sure the battery is fully charged. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, losing your cell-phone connection or being unable to connect via Skype doesn’t speak well for your ability to plan ahead.

3) Research the company and the person who will be interviewing you. Spend some time reviewing the company’s website. Look at their LinkedIn page and social media outlets. When the interviewer asks if you’re familiar with the company they aren’t expecting you to mutter “no” they’re expecting some intelligent comments. Take the time to visit the LinkedIn profiles of the people you’ll be talking with. It may help you find common ground.Prepare notes about the company and have them on hand for your call. Notes should include: information that you’ve gathered about the company; information about the person or persons you’re interviewing with; and any questions you have about the company and the position. Be sure to have your resume on hand to prompt you with names, dates, and accomplishments.

4) Prepare notes about the company and have them on hand for your call. Notes should include: information that you’ve gathered about the company; information about the person or persons you’re interviewing with; and any questions you have about the company and the position. Be sure to have your resume on hand to prompt you with names, dates, and accomplishments.

If you’re being interviewed via Skype, make sure that your notes are not visible during the call. Also, make sure that the background is clear and uncluttered. You don’t want it to appear that you have a treadmill sticking out of your head.

5) Know your resume cold. Also, be prepared to talk about everything you claim on LinkedIn and other social media sites as well. This is particularly important if you have your documents prepared by a professional writer. Everything on your resume and that the hiring manager can find online is fair game.

Bonus: A Few More Tips for Skype

  1. Make sure the light is shining on your face rather than behind you to avoid looking like a silhouette.
  2. Remember, the camera adds pounds, lean in to look thin.
  3. Have a professional looking profile photo and Skype handle.
  4. Turn off notifications on your computer and close other software programs.
  5. Choose your clothing carefully. Think TV anchor, not Rock Start. Try to avoid black or white.

Treat a virtual interview as you would an in-person meeting. Pay attention. Be enthusiastic. Sell yourself to the employer. Also, make sure to ask key questions. This is an opportunity for you to learn about them too.

Even if it’s only a 20-minute chat with a recruiter be sure to follow up with a thank-you email after the call. Express your interest and mention anything you forgot to say during the call. Acing the phone or Skype interview is the first step to being asked to meet face-to-face.

If you’d like to work with Annette Richmond, a certified resume writer, LinkedIn Profile writer, and career consultant, please schedule an introductory call to discuss your needs.   You will be able to access Annette’s calendar to choose a day and time that works for you.