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7 Things to Do NOW to Ace Your Phone or Video Interview

Updated: May 7, 2020

Phone interviews are hard if you’re not prepared, yet companies rely on them to create a short list of candidates to invite for in-person interviews. In this day of COVID-19 and self-distancing, phone and video interviews are happening more than ever.

You might have a scheduled call or just happen to pick up the phone when a recruiter reaches out. The key to success is being prepared.

How you act before, during and after the call will likely determine whether you’ll be a final candidate.

1. Do your research.

Find out everything you can about the company and the interviewer. Google, Pipl, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and crunchbase are all good resources.

  • See if you or a friend/colleague are connected via LinkedIn to someone in the company who might share information about the position.

  • If the company is publicly held, listen to the last quarterly phone call and learn about its stock performance.

  • If asked how much you know about the company, be ready to explain briefly what they do. I’ve known candidates be rejected simply because they did no research.

2. Raise your energy level BEFORE the call starts.

Stand, stretch, smile, run around with your dog. Do anything to get yourself going. Energy is perceived over the phone. SMILE! You can tell when someone is smiling over the phone by the sound of their voice! During a video call you want to radiate energy whether you are naturally introverted or extroverted.


3. Practice your answers to these standard questions. I’ll have sample answers for you in future blogs.

  1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

  2. What do you know about this company?

  3. Why are you considering leaving your company? (Most people have an average of 12.8 jobs in their lifetime, so don’t worry about saying you need a new challenge.)

  4. What are you looking for? What does your ideal job look like?

  5. What are your compensation expectations?

  6. When has something not gone as planned?

4. Prepare vignettes/short stories that illustrate specific skills.

  • Always put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes. Imagine the type of person they want to hire and what is important to them and their company. Research about the interviewer is useful here. Use these vignettes when answering questions.

  • Telling a short story about the time you solved a complex technical problem is far more convincing than saying you are very technical.


5. Act as though this is the dream job you have been waiting for—even if it isn’t.

  • Circumstances and priorities change. You want to be in position to get an offer.

  • Companies typically want to hire someone who is enthusiastic, optimistic and humble about their skills and experience.

  • Your attitude, energy and positive outlook are important and will come across—explicitly or implied—during an interview.


6. Prepare specific questions.

Use your research about the company to frame your question.

  • I read that you’re expanding into Europe. Is that why this position is open?

  • In your opinion, what would make someone excel in this role?

  • In the last quarterly phone call, I learned about a new software engineering office you are opening. Given your expansion, can you share with me how this position might work with that group?


7. Be ready to say thank you immediately after the call.

  • Have the thank you email ready to go.

  • During the discussion, find something specific you can mention in the email.

  • If the hiring manager mentioned a challenge, choosing a new technology, find additional information or attach a relevant article that would add value.

Please use the comments below to let me know what questions you’ve found difficult to answer, and what you’ve done to prepare for a remote interview. I’ll keep the tips coming.

Linda Goodspeed is a professional certified Career Coach and experienced Recruiting Consultant. She has partnered with start-ups and expanding companies in the software and biotech industries to grow their talent base and establish recruiting operations. She blogs to share experience that can help candidates successfully transition between jobs. Linda has conducted thousands of interviews on the phone, via videoconferencing and in person. As a member of the board of Family Promise North Shore Boston, she enjoys providing mentorship and coaching to families experiencing homelessness. Linda can be reached at lindasjobtalk@icloud.com and welcomes LinkedIn connection requests and comments.

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