Q: I have been unemployed since early January. This is my first time being unemployed and it is nerve-wracking. I am struggling with the concept of a telephone interview or video call. In the past, I always did well in face-to-face interviews but I am less confident with phone interviews or video calls, which seem to be very common now. What can I do to prepare?
A: When employers source candidates, online postings can increase the response rate tremendously. Recently we posted a job and over 400 candidates apply, some as far away as Germany. Telephone interviews are almost a norm, as a first step in the selection process. Video calls are also being use more often, especially if they can limit travel or a visit to a different geographic region. These calls are as important as a face-to-face interview. A candidate can either advance through to the next step in the interview process or a candidate can be eliminated.
- Confirm the call, in advance I prefer using email to confirm because then you have a record of the confirmed date and time.
- Ensure you have good phone reception or a reliable video conferencing option. A land line is often preferable but not always possible. If you are using a cell phone, make sure that test your reception in advance.
- Print a copy of your resume and have it accessible during the call.
- Prepare yourself. Sometimes candidates take a too-casual approach to telephone or video call interviews. Don’t make that mistake. Be as prepared for a telephone interview as would for an in-person interview.
- Be on time.
- Practice responses to questions. Ask a trusted friend or colleague to conduct a mock telephone interview with you.
- Do your research. Check out the company’s website if the company name is available to you.
- Eliminate distractions. Crate your dog. Close the door. If in your car, pull over to a quiet spot so you are able to talk in a focused way. Note – in Massachusetts, we now should be using hands-free options when talking on a cell phone in the car.
- Don’t forget to ask about next steps. One suggested closing comment: “Jane, thanks for taking time to talk to me about the Research Scientist role at ABC Company. Can you tell me what the next steps are in your process? I am really interested in this role.”
- After the call, follow-up with a thank-you email.
- Stay close to email. You want to be accessible if the employer is trying to reach you after the call.
This first impression is critical. Many treat it too casually and have to pick up another call, silence a dog or turn off other electronic devices. Don’t make this mistake.