Telephone/Skype Interviews

Employers use the telephone interview as a way of identifying and recruiting candidates for employment. 
Telephone interviews are often used to screen candidates in order to narrow the pool of applicants who will be invited for in-person interviews. They are also used as way to minimize the expenses involved in
interviewing out-of-town candidates.

While you're actively job searching, it's important to be prepared for a phone interview on a moment's notice. While the majority of telephone interviews are pre-arranged and scheduled, keep in mind that a recruiter or a networking contact might call at any time and ask if you have a few minutes to talk.


Be Prepared to Interview

Prepare for a phone interview just as you would for a regular interview. In addition, plan on being prepared for a phone conversation about your background and skills.

  • Sit at a desk in a straight backed chair.
  • Keep your resume in clear view so it's at your fingertips when you need to answer questions.
  • Have a short list of your accomplishments available to review.
  • Have a pen and paper handy for note taking.
  • Turn call-waiting off so your call isn't interrupted. 
  • Clear the room of people and pets. Turn off the music and the TV. Close the door.
  • Consider using a landline rather than your cell phone to avoid a dropped call or static on the line.
  • Wear business attire, even though the interviewer can’t see you. It can help you feel and sound more professional.

Practice Interviewing

Talking on the phone isn't as easy as it seems.

  • Have a friend or family member conduct a mock interview and record it so you can see how you sound over the phone.
  • Practice reducing the "ums" and "uhs" and "okays” from your conversational speech.
  • Rehearse answers to typical questions you'll be asked.
  • Contact the Pomerantz Career Center about using BIG INTERVIEW for practice.

During the Phone Interview

  • Don't chew gum, smoke, eat, or drink.
  • Do keep a glass of water handy, in case you need to wet your mouth.
  • Smile. Smiling will project a positive image to the listener and will change the tone of your voice.
  • Listen to the questions carefully. If you are unsure of the question ask for it to be repeated or for clarification.
  • Speak slowly and enunciate clearly.
  • Use the person's title (Mr. or Ms. and their last name.) Only use a first name if they ask you to.
  • Don't interrupt the interviewer.
  • Take your time - it's perfectly acceptable to take a moment or two to collect your thoughts.
  • Give focused answers.
  • Remember your goal is to set up a face-to-face interview. After you thank the interviewer ask what the next step is in the selection process.


Virtual Interviewing is as Easy as 1, 2, 3:

  1. Practice and test your equipment ahead of time
    • Test a video call with a friend or family member to get a feel for it. This also means double-checking that all of your tecnical components are in order (be sure you have the latest verioin of the software).
    • make sure you do a microphone check.
    • It is always smart to use a headset, as it will have better sound quality than your computer (that said, you should always test the headset too).
    • Check that your internet connection can handle a video call.
    • If you have to do a demonstration during the interview - such as a PowerPoint or solving a written problem - use a desktop or laptop and practice "Sharing screen..." and "Sending files..." functions.
  2. The setting
    • It is best to have natural sunlight or a lamp aimed straight at you from behind the camera or computer.
    • A simple backdrop will look best on the other end of the video call. Tip: Use a Pomerantz Career Center Interview Room.
    • Eliminate background noise by choosing a quiet location and tell everyone in proximity prior to your interview keep noise down.
  3. Look and act the part
    • Avoid stripes or patterned clothing. Make sure that your clothes stand out from the backdrop.
    • Maintaining eye contact by looking at the camera and not the monitor. Move your picture to the top corner of the screen so you won't be focused on how you look.
    • If you are using a laptop with a built-in camera, it can be worthwhile to boost it up on a stack of books so that it's at eye-level.
    • Smile, just like you would if the interviewer were in the room with you.
    • Be sure your upper body is in the frame as hand gestures as integral to nonverbal communication.
    • Be enthusiastic, but speak clearly and vary your vocal tone.
  4. After the interview
    • Take notes about what you were asked and how you answered.
    • Remember to say "thank you." Follow up with a thank you note that reiterates your interest in the job.