How to Totally Nail That Phone Interview
If interviews make you horribly nervous, the thought of doing one remotely might be a relief — but you should still take them just as seriously as an IRL conversation.
Your interviewer may have a harder time seeing you sweat, but they'll still ask questions that test your preparation, interest, and poise. Think of a phone or video interview as an extra opportunity to impress. If you create a genuine connection with someone without being in the same place as them, chances are they'll trust your ability to knock it out of the park in the flesh. Here are five tips to make the whole process go much more smoothly.
Test Your Tech: Don't wait until right before your interview to make sure that your phone is charged and your Wi-Fi works. For a video interview, it's crucial to do a trial run in advance, since they can be especially glitchy. "These are live, so it's very important to test your connection ahead of time," says Scott Dobroski, the director of corporate communications at Glassdoor. Practice your interview on the hardware you'll be using day of, adds WayUp CEO and cofounder Liz Wessel. "You don't have to do a full practice," she explains, "but call your mom or dad, to make sure the sound is clear." For video interviews, turn on your computer, run any software updates that might cause a problem, and dial a friend to make sure everything is functioning. If it is, great; if it's not, at least you'll have time to figure out a solution.
Pick A Solid Spot: It's a little annoying when you're on the phone and can hear everything except for the person speaking. In an interview situation, "annoying" can quickly veer into obnoxious and unprepared. "You do not want to do [this] inside a Starbucks or coffee shop. You don't want to do it with dogs or children running in the background. And you do not want to do it with your roommate or partner walking by out of the shower," says Dobroski — so make sure that you're alone, with the door locked if possible. Yes, accidents happen. But your half-naked housemate or S.O. likely won't be embraced the same way as BBC Dad's kids.
Dress The Part: Wearing full business attire for a video interview is overkill. And maybe even a little weird. Dress in clean, presentable clothing — head-to-toe — that wouldn't cause you or your interviewer agita if something unexpected happened. You don't want to unexpectedly stand up and reveal the tomato sauce stains on your lap, or that you're wearing holey leggings from the waist down.
Get The Ambiance Right: You don't want your interviewer to think you're in an underground hideout, so skip the dark, dingy mood lighting. Pick a spot where the light is facing you, says WayUp cofounder Liz Wessel (think selfie lighting, but professional), and try to set yourself up in a flattering frame at a comfortable distance (i.e., not honing in on every one of your pores). Ideally, "you want to have slightly an inch of space above your head and stop at mid-chest level," Dobroski suggests. "It's the same spacing you'd see for a TV newscaster and it keeps the focus on you" — not on the paintings that you bought from Ikea.
Take Your Time: A common mistake people make, even in person, is cutting someone else off in conversation out of eagerness or impatience. This is even easier to do when you can't see the person you're talking to, to tell when their previous sentence has ended or the next one will begin. So even if it feels slightly unnatural or staged, wait a beat after your interviewer finishes a sentence. Cutting them off accidentally a time or two might not be a total deal-breaker — they'll understand why — but you don't want to come across as rushing the conversation or being more interested in hearing yourself talk than establishing a connection.