As remote interviews become the new normal, we provide some helpful tips on how to prepare for them.

2020 was a year like no other, with employers having no choice but to move just about all their recruitment over to virtual. Before Covid, we would estimate that just over half of employers were willing to use Telephone and Virtual (Video) interviewing to select candidates. Now all companies are using these means to find talent and this trend is here to stay!

A majority of interviews are conducted using video (Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams), with telephone interviews still being used to pre-screen candidates.

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The Lead Up

For employers, an initial telephone pre-secreening call is a great way to quickly filter through a large number of initially shortlisted CV’s, or to clarify any pointers or address any immediate questions about an applicants’ suitability.

Unfortunately many job seekers don’t always take them seriously and their approach to a telephone interview can be rather nonchalant.

Telephone vs Video; a commitment question

Given the choice of attending a face to face meeting (albeit virtual) and being available for a telephone interview with an employer, job seekers would usually give more commitment to the companies that invited them in to meet them via video call.

If you are ever asked to attend a telephone interview, think twice before you presume or doubt the commitment of what could be your next future employer. Although it is always preferable to meet face to face for a first round interview, telephone interviews can be advantageous to you. They might save you time if you have a busy work schedule and enable you to get an initial feel for the company and if it is the right fit for you.

Nowadays telephone interviews are mostly used to pre-screen applicants before inviting them for a face to face (virtual) meeting. They will give you the chance to demonstrate your suitability and also allow you to ask as many questions as possible about the role and company you are courting. But bear in mind telephone interviews are not always brief as some employers still prefer using telephone interviews to conduct an in depth assessment. It is therefore much better to be prepared for both.

So how do you ensure you get the best outcome from your interview?

Here are some tips that should help you..

Research the company

This means look at the website, news articles, information from the recruitment consultant, social media updates, blogs and make sure you understand what they do, or if anything interesting catches your eye about what they do.

What is happening in the business, can you find any information from employees about working there? Is there anything specifically they have won awards in?

What reviews do you see about them on Google?

Look at the job description.

What are the skills they are looking for?

Do you understand the role?

Can you provide examples of where you have applied those skills?

What do you like about the sound of the role?

Consider who is conducting the telephone interview.

Is it the Line manager? If this is the case you will be able to find out more about the day to day role and culture or team.

Is it the Human Resources manager? They generally have a slightly different angle when interviewing as they’ll often focus on your overall fit for the role and company,  and they may not be able to talk so much about the details of day to day responsibilities that you will have.

Have you checked their LinkedIn profile?  You may come across some interesting articles and updates about them and their work.

Choose the right setting

Find a quiet space and set the right background. Find out how long the interview will be and make sure there are as few distractions as possible (admittedly hard sometimes if you are working from home with family/flatmates present). The right setting will enable you to focus more clearly on the actual interview and the background you select can offer a lot of information about your personality without you realising it.

Prepare for questions they may ask, and prepare questions to ask depending on who is doing the interviewing

What do you like about the role? What are you looking for?  Does this match what they offer? Why do you want to leave your current job?

The questions you may be asked could be competency based (click here for tips).

Ask the interviewer questions about the team, the company, why the role became available, what they are looking for, and if applicable, what the clients you would work with are like. Don’t just ask about money and working hours (never in a first interview) but show you are interested in them, what they are looking for, why they are hiring, what challenges (good ones) the role might offer you.

Don’t be afraid of asking questions you would ask in a face to face interview; it’s your interview too and you should be allowed the opportunity to ask at least one or two questions.

Be aware of how you present yourself

Talking on the phone or over video is never as intimate as in person meetings, so it is important you make an added effort to get your personality across. Sit in a good comfortable chair as your posture will affect how you speak. Make good eye contact so you are looking at the interviewer and not down or away from the camera. Use your tone to convey enthusiasm, and be aware of your facial expressions. They are a large part of your message online. Silence any notification noises which could cause distractions such as emails, messages, your phone ringing through your laptop

Close the interview

Let them know what you think about the role and the company at the end of an interview.  If you are keen, ask them what the next stage is in the process. Ask them if they have any reservations about your application and if they do, respond to them. This may be your only chance to address this.

Finally… take it seriously!

Remote interviews are more easily accessible and take away the added effort of travelling to a destination to meet in person, however it is important to remember that be it an initial telephone call or a conversation over Zoom, decisions are now being made without ever having to meet face to face. This means you have to ensure that they see you as the right person for the job without ever actually meeting you. So bring your A game so they can remotely see that you are the best person for the job!

If you would like any more advice on improving your interview skills or have any suggestions for any future posts then get in touch with us or have a look at our current vacancies.


by on February 2nd, 2021
posted in Advice, Sector News